I’m going to try to break a crazy myth here: GPP is only useful for athletes. I will concede that GPP (General Physical Preparedness) can be an invaluable tool for competitive athletes of any level. However, to say that it is only useful for athletes is just flat out blasphemous. Wanna test me? Keep reading.
What do you think of when you here the term GPP? Personally, I think of that whole spell pig backwards and says colors joke from elementary school. For those who are a little more grown up than me, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that explosive movement based exercises are at the top of the list – sled dragging, sledgehammer work, bodyweight circuits, just to name a few. Those are all great examples of GPP. But here’s where I’m confused – only athletes need the benefits of these exercises?
Surely not. If you answered no to that question then you’re telling me that you don’t need core strength, cardiovascular conditioning, heart health, and total body strength. I don’t know; seems a little fishy to me. What sane individual would turn down that rather impressive list? Isn’t that exactly what we hope to gain from exercise? That’s a strong yes for myself.
To be honest, though, that list barely even scratches the surface of the true benefits GPP provides. I’ll run you through the few that I listed real quick:
Core Strength – Dragging a sled with 100lbs slapped on top of it is sure to do a hell of a lot more for your core than 3 sets of crunches.
Cardiovascular Conditioning – Involving all of the energy systems.
Total Body Strength – You use your entire body to assist you in performing a sledgehammer swing. The power is transferred from your feet up through your hips and core musculature to your upper body where you are finally able to make the swing happen.
Heart Health – All of the benefits of traditional cardiovascular activity in fun-form.
Why perform GPP over traditional cardio? Your answer is the above. If that isn’t enough to convince you, let’s break it down a bit further. Because of the nature of GPP, it doesn’t even feel like work. It mostly consists of short-burst activity. This is a big change from the typical aerobic conditioning workout in which you run a super long distance, completely bored out of your mind.
It also fits much better into your training schedule than aerobic cardio. Let’s just be honest for a second – training for strength and endurance at the same time is intensely counter-productive. I like to consider GPP the strength training of the cardio world. Explosive, short-burst movements mimic the work done in the gym.
Here’s my big point; get ready for it. GPP consists of a number of everyday activities that most people would not even think to consider as a form of cardio. I’m going to talk about one in particular here – yard work. Harmless enough, right? My parents, the taskmasters, would argue otherwise. When I was younger, I did enough yard work to last me for a lifetime. I’m not just talking about the traditional male duty, mowing the lawn. Picture this; you’re sleeping comfortably in your king size bed, your fan briskly blowing to cool you. You notice that the sun is beginning to peek through the window across from your bed, but it’s too early for that. You roll over and shut your eyes. Just as you’re above to drift back into never-never landyour door is thrown open by a way too excited father who suddenly yells, mulch in the driveway, get up and let’s get it out! The harsh reality of childhood. Let’s take a look at shoveling mulch since I brought it up. You’ve got rotation through your hips, constant up and down movement slamming your lower back, as well as the push and pull movement of the shovel ripping up your shoulders, triceps, and upper back. It’s a full body workout.
GPP isn’t traditional in any sense, so what makes you think it should be treated as such? Get creative with your conditioning. You have the opportunity to realize all of the benefits of cardiovascular activity as well as a number of strength training benefits through this simple activity while actually having fun! You can’t go wrong with that.