Wheelbarrow GPP: Part One.

A year ago I started to write about a new and different type of General Physical Preparedness (GPP) exercise: Sledgehammer GPP. Because of the overwhelming response, I feel it is about time we add a brother to the weighted GPP family: Wheelbarrow GPP!
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Note: This is part one, click here for part two!
click here for part three!
click here for part four!
click here for part five!
click here for part six!
click here for part seven!

A year ago I started to write about a new and different type of General Physical Preparedness (GPP) exercise: Sledgehammer GPP. During this past year, I have received thousands of emails regarding questions about the sledgehammer GPP. Several of the recent emails asked if I was going to add to the already popular form of weighted GPP, the sledgehammer. Well, I feel it is about time we add a brother to the weighted GPP family: Wheelbarrow GPP!


Dr. Michael Hartle bench pressing a new Indiana State Record of 518 lbs. at the recent 2003 USAPL Athletic Performance Center Open Powerlifting Championships.

I will continue to write occasionally about the sledgehammer GPP, but I will shift my focus to the new addition of the family. We have read and heard about weighted sled work, using the sledgehammer to pommel a tire with, tire flipping, jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, etc. What I am advocating is using a wheelbarrow as another form of weighted GPP.

Using Your Wheelbarrow To Improve Strength!

Just think about it: find a wheelbarrow and load it up with some weight. Now pick it up and start walking with it. Make sure you get a good grip on the handle. Walk with it for 5-10 minutes. Now set it down and what do you feel? Do you feel your lungs rapidly expanding and contracting, trying to get more oxygen into your bloodstream to feed those needy muscular structures? How about your forearms? Are they larger than you have seen them for some time? Feel how rock hard they are. Try to open your fingers all the way. Hard isn't it? How does your glutes/buttocks feel? Burning? Your hamstrings/calves? The same?

When you use the wheelbarrow with weight for a period of time, you will feel it everywhere. As a kid, I remember helping my father every spring haul black dirt around the yard for various lawn maintenance duties. However, I would walk the wheelbarrow for less than a minute and set it down for a much longer period of time. Now, we are walking with the wheelbarrow loaded with weight with no rest until you are done. You will feel it everywhere throughout your body.

Your abdominals, erectors, deeper lower back muscles like the multifidi and rotares (which help with rotation, extension and lateral flexion and overall stabilization of the spine-important functions for any sport), glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, hip adductors and abductors, upper back and chest regions and your forearms, wrists and fingers.

Athletes participating in sports such as basketball, football, wrestling, hockey, lacrosse, track & field, baseball, soccer, swimming, bowling, etc., would greatly benefit from doing wheelbarrow GPP. By having to walk with a weighted load for a period of time, you will make your trunk and extremities used to spending time with heavier weight than your own body weight. This will translate onto the playing field.

As a competitive athlete starts to get tired during an event, the body can dig deep and pull out those all-important recruitment patterns and various energy systems needed to finish the event since your body is now accustomed to pushing heavy loads with no rest. The competitive athlete needs to have these motor recruitment patterns in place in addition to them being strong and functional. If they are not functioning properly, sports performance will suffer and injury will follow soon thereafter.

What Is The Point?

The point is this: We are adding another dimension to our weighted GPP family. First was the sledgehammer. Now the wheelbarrow has been added to the family. We have several more to add to our family before the weighted GPP family will be complete. I will talk about these at a later date. Stay tuned ...

In the succeeding issues of wheelbarrow GPP I will discuss several different methods of using the wheelbarrow, including applying the periodization model to training with it and what type and where you can get the proper equipment to make this type of training effective and successful for you and your athletes!

The Athletic Performance Center (APC) is offering physical therapy and rehabilitation services, 1-on-1 personal training and last, but certainly not least, athletic performance training. Michael Robertson, MS, CSCS, a Ball State University graduate, is the director of this new division. We are currently working on the website for the APC and I will let you know when it is up and running. This is the place to go in the Midwest for the aforementioned services. More to come on this in the future!

Look for an upcoming book about the Renegade approach to Strongman/Strongwoman training by Dr. Michael Hartle! I look forward to hearing your comments. Remember to Live the Code and always train hard and be relentless. That is the only way to train! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at pwrdoc@fwi.com. (To read previous articles of Sledgehammer GPP by Dr. Hartle, click here.)

Note: This is part one, click here for part two!
click here for part three!
click here for part four!
click here for part five!
click here for part six!
click here for part seven!

Dr. Mike Hartle, D.C., D.A.C.B.N., C.C.S.P., C.C.N., C.S.C.S.