Seems as though everyone in the gym, on the track, in the spinning class are all trying to get in shape. Get in shape for what? What does this all too common saying actually mean? To be honest, being in shape means different things for different people. For the mile runner it might mean running a 4-minute race, for the powerlifter it may be squatting 1,000 pounds in competition, and for the football player it may be ruling the fourth quarter. The only common thread for all these different athletes is they all rely on having an elite level of work capacity to match the goals of their sport. This is where a concept of General Physical Preparation (GPP) and Specialized Physical Preparation (SPP) come into play. For the past several weeks I have made reference to GPP in different terms. So, on the encouragement of the staff at Bodybuilding.com I will go into specific aspects of GPP and SPP.
The purposes of GPP and SPP training is best explained by sports science expert, Dr. Siff, "GPP is intended to provide balanced physical conditioning in endurance, strength, speed, flexibility and other basic factors of fitness, where the SPP concentrates on exercises which are more specific to the particular sport. (Siff, 2000)" In Eastern European countries they often encouraged their athletes to participate in a wide variety of sports during their off-season. For example, many Soviet weightlifters would practice aspects of gymnastics and track and field to compliment their typical weightlifting program. This allows the athletes to improve different aspects of athletic performance and minimize the repetitive motions of their chosen sport. Improved body awareness and new strength improvements are typical results of using this methodology.
It is important to recognize GPP and SPP are considered cycles in developing the annual training program. GPP is generally considered the earliest phase of any of the training cycles. However, it is also incorrect to examine these concepts as separate entities. Usually a cycle will have an emphasis of a specific motor quality, but there will be a mixture of training methods. For example, even though SPP should follow a period of time utilizing GPP, however, these two methods are often combined within the same program, but one getting more attention.
In essence GPP is an opportunity for individuals to participate in low-intensity movements that improve all-around conditioning. This may include improving body composition by losing bodyfat or increasing functional lean body mass. Another benefit of using GPP is to teach basic concepts of sport such as proper foot contact, correct foot and body positioning during different movements. This will help the athlete become more proficient when they perform their actual sporting movements.
SPP is a continuation of GPP, but with more of an intention on the actual sporting skills. When used in the earlier phases, SPP can be helpful to correct past injuries, postural problems and improve neuromuscular skill. SPP can become more important as the athletes progress through several annual programs. Once the individual has some experience within a system more of the focus can be translated to SPP work as it allows the athlete to remain closer to the actual sporting performance.
Now that we have laid a foundation of the concepts of both GPP and SPP we will next learn how to employ specific exercises into training programs to match our goals. These concepts can actually be utilized by those that have a primary interest in physical appearance as well. The focus will be more toward the GPP phase, but the exercises themselves can provide a whole new level of physique transformation and strength gains.