If you are deconditioned, out of shape, don’t know how to lift, and your endurance sucks, where should you start training?
You should start with GPP=General Physical Preparation. Translated into more colloquial terms, it is what you could call “general fitness”.
GPP assess three areas,
-Can you perform foundational movements?
-Do you have the energy/endurance ability to move for extended periods of time?
-Do you have any immediate limitations/weaknesses that need to be addressed?
GPP is assessing your overall movement capacity. If you cannot hip hinge, then having you barbell deadlift is probably not helpful. If you do not know how to press with appropriate technique, then bench press is going to cause problems. If you cannot run, its not going to make much sense to tell you to do hill sprints.
Additionally, if you don’t have competency in the foundational movements, then suggesting you follow a hypertrophy program is not going to be very effective.
GPP is, in essence, the question of “Can you MOVE?”
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GPP does not mean you have “elite” level strength of athleticism. Its a baseline assessment of motor skills. This baseline consists of being able to perform the fundamental movements, and fundamental patterns of locomotion.
-hip hinge, squat, press, pull, lunge, twist, carry
And can you; walk, run, sprint?
If you can do all the above with competency, you’d have well developed GPP. But How Strong Do I Need to Be?? This is a good question, but it’s somewhat misled. GPP is not assessing how strong you are in regards to load, but how precise you are in regards to TECHNIQUE.
For this to make sense, imagine you are a personal trainer.
Client 1 – You have a 17 year old male client. He isnt that impressively strong, but he is able to do ALL the movements. He can barbell squat his bodyweight, pull his body, and bench press his bodyweight. He can also run, sprint, and has great agility with directional changes. He can do pushups and chinups with relative ease
Client 2 – This client is 22 years old. He can squat 500lbs, but he’s done very little for cardio, and his endurance is very poor. He’s overweight, and while he can squat heavy, his hips are actually quite tight, and lunging is hard for him. He can bench press around 350, but his endurance for pushups and dips are actually pretty poor.
Which client has better GPP in this scenario? It’s going to be client 1. He is “weaker”, but he moves far better. If they are athletes, Client 1 is far less likely to get injured than client 2.
The GPP to Mastery Continuum
Hopefully this is making sense so far, but there is the question of “how long do i spend on GPP?”
-To make this practical, imagine GPP like this. And I promise you will understand this very clearly
Technique and Weaknesses–>Corrective Hypertrophy + Muscular Endurance–>Hypertrophy–>Strength–>Power
(Phase 1) (Phase 2) (Phase 3) (Phase 4) (Phase 5)
-In the beginning (Phase 1), you start with learning the foundations and doing them correctively. You also assess and address any particular weaknesses with stretching, activation movements, and special exercises that can remedy them. This is the “restoring your relationship with gravity phase”. This phase is likely to be 2-6 months for your average american.
From there (Phase 2), you begin to practice these movements, and develop endurance to do them repeatedly. This will build your oxygen capacity (endurance) and will typically be lots of bodyweight work and drills. Any free weights you do will be done for moderate to high reps, with the emphasis on technique first. You will build muscle throughout, and muscular development will especially be emphasized on the areas of your body that are particular weak (say upper back, glutes, core). This phase would last around 3-6 months also.
Going into Phase 3, you can then transition into more traditonal hypertrophy work. By this point you’ve learned proper technique, you have built up your endurance, and you can focus on the weights. Any conditoning work you want to do can be done separate, or you could elect to make your lifting very cardiovascular by shortening the rest periods, using circuit training, etc. Phase 3 is where I want people to spend most of their time. This phase could be lifelong essentially, although you would customize and specialize it to suit your progress
Lift weights + Sprints phase
Now, you may find with time that you favor heavier training over lighter training, and that Phase 4 is more your thing. Phase 3 and 4 COULD be interchangeable for some people. The point is that you’ve reached a physical state where you can choose your own direction and begin specializing and customizing your training
Phase 4-In Phase 4, you put emphasis on maximum strength. This would be powerlifting for some people. Or it could be “powerbuilding” where you base your training around overall heavier lifting (less than 6 reps), but do not necessarily do the powerlifts themselves for max attempts.
I suggest people move into heavier training AFTER they’ve built up a muscular base in Phase 3, but again, some people can go right into it, and respond far better to heavier lifting than more moderate lifting. Training for maximal strength IS harder on the joints, so at this level you have to be attuned to your biofeedback and not ignore your body. Strength training DOES require periodic breaks and deloads, so this style of training is typically around 2-3 months before breaking and then resuming
Phase 5-Phase 5 is POWER development. This is your ability to accelerate and be explosive. Some people never do much of this training, and while this style of training is great for athleticism, its also not entirely necessary that someone do it. If you play an explosive sport, you’d likely want to engage in power training at some point. Power training CAN be incorporated into strength and hypertrophy training, and by way of getting stronger and bigger, you will be more powerful. True power training is typically only 3-6 weeks in length This training stage is essentially a customization stage. If you are legimately doing this type of training, its going to be for a good reason.
Phase 5 and BEYOND-
The above continuum I just gave you is very linear. It takes someone from movement dysfunctional to movement capable to being strong and athletic.
The above is not the ONLY way to do things. Beyond the GPP stage, there is a method of training called CONCURRENT training, or Conjugate training. This training method involves training max strength, hypertrophy, and power ALL at the same time. While that sounds awesome, I don’t necessarily recommend it offhand, because it confuses the living hell out of people, and its a lot to keep track of. I’m much more favorable to my Lifting+Conditioning model for regular people.
For the sake of simplicity, its much easier to track ONE variable in your training, such as rep range, than it is to track multiple variables that are constantly alternating. Telling someone to go from high to low reps is easy. Telling you to track reps, weight, percentage, acceleration, special exercises, and make necessary changes weekly, that’s a lot harder.
Hopefully, this all gives you some sensibility of where you may be at with your training, and where you could be going. This is a subject that gets very pedantic in the fitness world, so I did my best to make it layman’s terms and relevant.
Questions, let me know,
Talk again soon,
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