It’s thought that the origins of the word Jeep, as in the car with the same name, was from an abbreviation of the words General Purpose. GP was the standard term for anything that was a stock issue item in the military and not just confined to motor vehicles. I’ve even owned pairs of GP boots. (Horrible things that I advise never wearing unless you absolutely have to).
When it comes to training we often see people talk about GPP, which stands for General Physical Preparation. This term refers to all training that is nonspecific in nature and designed to give us a broad physical base upon which to grow Specific Physical Preparation, or SPP. But this is also about where most people lose their minds. You see, SPP is only needed for advanced athletes in specific sports. If you’re not advanced you don’t need SPP. And if you’re advanced in one sport, but not in another, then you don’t need SPP for the second sport either.
The first question people should really ask themselves then is whether or not they’re advanced. In the gym this is an easy question to answer as the Russians have kindly given us their definition quite clearly. If you can’t squat or deadlift twice your body weight then you’re not advanced. If you fall short of this magical two times body weight number you do not need a specialised plan for any form of strength training. Simply sticking to a tried and true beginner/ intermediate plan will do more for you than trying to follow Klokov’s routine or thinking you need to do the Russian Squat Assault to bring your squat up from 100kg to 110kg.
And then we get to sports training which is probably the most misunderstood thing in all of the fitness world. You know, besides, hypertrophy, fat loss, diet, “cardio” training, agility work, flexibility….wait…
Sports training, or trying to make people better at their sport in the gym, is a huge waste of time for most. Again, if you’re not advanced it’s a bad idea. Here’s a few basic reasons why:
Most people have poor posture and mechanics. Playing their sport actually places their body under enormous stress – like racing a car that has a twisted chassis and has to continually overcome massive amounts of mechanical resistance. Getting them to spend more time working on adding stress to their body in the gym is likely going to break them sooner, and it’s going to be tough to improve at your sport then.
Most sport can be nailed down to a few key components – game skill, basic strength, necessary fitness, basic biomechanics. If you lack game skill getting a bigger bench press won’t help you. Most adult athletes are so low in skill that what they need more of is game skill to improve performance. This will actually take care of nearly all of their basic fitness needs to play the sport as well. Basic strength is obvious – there’s very little chance that your athlete is beyond beginner status in the gym so they need a basic strength plan that fits in with additional game skill sessions and doesn’t leave them too sore to play their sport. For most adults if this can’t be accomplished in two sessions per week then you have no idea what you’re doing and you should go find a different job before you hurt more people. Basic fitness, along with match fitness also includes basic diet and body composition management. There’s no reason for an athlete, no matter the level to be fat. The final area is where most people fall down – biomechanics. If your athlete moves poorly this needs addressing. Boring out the engine and increasing horsepower won’t do much if the wheels are still all pointing in different directions, and this is why most people will benefit more from corrective type work than from adding load or intensity.
So what we’re really left with, if we’re actually training athletes, is that:
They’ll be better served being treated as beginners.
They’ll benefit more from spending time working on their sports skills.
They’ll need more work on corrective training to fix all the damage caused by their sport, and to allow them to perform their sport more effectively.
But what if you’re not an athlete? What if you’re what is currently being called “an every day athlete”? That is, you like to be in shape, you like to have decent levels of strength, fitness, low body fat, and be able to use your fitness when needed to play with your kids, play a game of tennis or basketball with friends, or even go on a hike. Guess what? You need GP training.
I’m not going to write out a done for you plan as I am not a big believer in cookie cutter plans. However, what I will do is show you a way to set your week up so that you get the most out of it. I will say that most people would actually benefit from a second mobility day placed later in the week, likely on a Thursday, but I have assumed that not many will want to train 7 days per week, leaving little time spare.
Monday – mobility and corrective work only. (On the understanding that you have spent the weekend engaged in some physical activity).
Tuesday – strength with limited conditioning.
Wednesday – as Tuesday, but different lifts and different fitness activity.
Thursday – as Tuesday and Wednesday.
Friday – strength endurance.
Saturday – endurance.
I’m not going to break down how we do each of these sessions but a basic format should be 30 minutes of mobility work, 30 minutes of strength work, and 30 minutes of fitness work. I’d suggest pairing two exercises together that don’t compete such as front squats and pull ups or deadlifts and dips. You can then either do something as simple as 5 x 5 of each, or use an EDT format. All fitness work should be below your aerobic HR. Leave the higher octane conditioning for your sport and don’t burn yourself out in the gym.
Following this simple plan will keep you fit for all general things and minimise injuries. In training there are no magic bullets. Anyone offering you a path that seems to good to be true is lying to you. You absolutely cannot get great results without consistent, dedicated training. Anything that works off the premise off infrequent, low volume training is a waste of time as I explained in this article in Breaking Muscle here. Further, all those intense efforts will burn you out, just like it does to a race car expected to run at high speed all the time. The thing everyone misses is that race cars are in the garage more than they’re on the track. Trying to spend your gym time as all out sprints won’t get you very far for long.
The final benefit of training like this is that you get to enjoy doing a wide variety of exercises. For fitness you can walk, row, swim, ride, run, hike, use kettlebell complexes or swings and snatches. For strength you can use body weight, bars, dumbbells, kettlebells, strong man equipment, and anything else you find lying around. There is simply no need to tie yourself into one tool. This integrated approach to strength and conditioning is exactly why we get such great results with our clients, making them fit for life, built GP tough.