Strength Training 103: GPP Explained

If you were to walk into any gym and ask them about GPP, I’m not so sure you could get a good answer…

…as a matter of fact I had no idea about General Physical Preparedness (GPP) in college…

Sad admission, I know, but since then I have been reading a lot of eye opening texts on the importance of GPP.  

GPP Defined

General physical preparedness refered to as GPP, is a component of training.  Many people only train to get stronger, but then run out of breath tying their sneakers.

Louie Simmons explains GPP as “you have to be in shape to train, not train to get in shape.”  By training, I believe Louie is refering to powerlifting – the sport that has given Louie a lot of recognition.

GPP is the groundwork and general anareobic and aerobic foundations that a person can achieve BEFORE they get into heavy weights. 


To provide a more exact definition, GPP is explained by Medvedyev (1988):

1.  The formation, strengthening or restoration of the habits (skills), which play an auxiliary, facilitatory role in sport perfectioning.

2. As a means of educating abilities, developed insufficiently by the selected type of sport, raising the general work capacity or preserving it.

3. As active rest, assisting the restoration processes after significant, specific loading and counteracting the monotony of the training.

Verkhoshanky echoes the third aspect when he wrote “GPP helps prevent imbalances and boredom with both specific and non specific exercises by conditioning the body to work.”

Any simpler?

Probably not.  So I’ll make it as simple as possiblewith Verkhoshanky in mind:  GPP is conditioning the body to do work.

Exercise, especially loaded lifts, require general abilities to be performed successfully.  GPP simply is building those abilities!

GPP Exercises

Body weight exercises (catch my theme for the last two weeks with the bodyweight training articles!)


Sled Dragging


  • Forward (oxen or sprinting)
  • Backwards
  • Side
  • Lunges
  • Restoration Sled Drags (VIDEO)
  • Prowler

Other Options


  • Tire Throwing
  • Tire Flipping
  • Sandbag exercises
  • Car Pushing
  • Medicine Ball Toss

GPP Workouts

I’m trying to go above and beyond with this post, so I here are two sample GPP workouts.  One for in the gym, one for the garage gym people!

Intermediate Upper Body Gym GPP Workout

Warm up and mobility (jumping jack series, general movements, etc)

1. Pull ups – 5 x 5-8
2a. Supine Rows 4 x 10-12
3b. Hindu Pushups 4 x 10-12
4a. Handwalking over plates 4 x 10-12
5b. Medicine Ball Slams

Warm down and restoration.

Advanced Full Body GPP Bull Strength Style Workout

Warm up and mobility

1. Tire Flip 5 x 3-5 (no tire, substitute car push or pull 4-5 x 30 yards)
2a. Sandbag Shouldering 4 x 8-10 (each shoulder)
3b. Feet Elevated Push Ups 4 x 15-20
4. Sled Dragging 4 x 30 yards (alternate forward and backwards)
5. Sled Recovery Dragging (VIDEO)


Try one of these two sample workouts to increase your GPP (and stay consistent with incorporating some of these movements into your regular training program). 

I purposely made these workouts drastically different between bodyweight exercises and odd objects to show that most movements after the primary lifts are GPP in your program already!

GPP Conclusion / Summary

Our bodies are typically not prepared to step in the gym and lift heavy weights, just like we are rarely prepared to step onto an athletic field and perform at a high level.  General strength and movement patterns are a great base for lifting or athletic preparation.

In addition, even once people become “elite” lifters or athletes, GPP will still prove valuable in the areas of recovery, restoration, mobility, and more. 



==> I’m looking forward to reading your comments and exercise choices! 

- Joe Hashey, CSCS –

PS.  If you want an exercise program that takes GPP into account?  Get Bull Strength!


1. Hashey, Joe. Bull Strength. Synergy Athletics 2008.
2. Zatisiorsky, V. and Kraemer, W. Science and Practice of Strength Training. 2nd Edition. Human Kinetics 2006.
3. Medvedyev, A.  A System Of Multi-Year Training in Weightlifting.Sportivny Press. 1989.
4. Simmons, L. Louie Simmons Frequently Asked Questions. Deep Squatter.

Synergy Facebook Comments


  • Matt "Wiggy" Wiggins

    Reply Reply December 3, 2009

    Great post Joe! GPP is one of the most often overlooked parts of a program, and really, GPP can (and should) make up a big part of one’s program.

    Something I like (and since you’ve been talking so much about BWE as of late ;-) is to add some basic BWE between sets of strength work. For example, after every heavy set of strength work, do 5 burpees, 10 situps, and 15 jumping jacks – then rest. You’d be surprised how much overall volume this adds up to by the end of a workout.

    Keep up the great posts, Joe – you’ve been on fire lately! ;-)

    Wiggy – MMA Training | MMA Workouts | Cardio Workouts | Workout Plans

    • Thanks for the comment Matt!

      Very true GPP is overlooked. On the good side, a lot of people perform GPP, but just dont know they are doing it (like BWE). I hope this post clears some things up!

      Matt – things have been clicking lately on the posts! Finishing up the bodyweight and gpp and hopefully getting into some programming and exercises after this week!


  • Randy Prater

    Reply Reply December 3, 2009

    One of my favorite GPP workouts is:

    A1 Kettlebell Swing, 30 seconds skip rope
    A2 Sledgehammer Slam, 30 seconds skip rope

    Repeat five times.

    The rope skipping acts as active recovery between the “loaded cardio” work sets.

  • Chuka

    Reply Reply December 3, 2009

    How do you do the “Handwalking over plates” exercise?

  • Chuka – The simple version – stack 2 plates on top of each other about 2 feet apart. Start outside one stack, climb your hands up onto the stack, down to the middle, up to the other stack, over to the outside and repeat back. Great for young athletes to work up to push ups.

    To make it harder, perform a push up each time you move your hands.

    Most advanced – perform a jumping pushup to the multiple positions. I hope that helps!


  • Chucka – similar to the sundail push up video I put up a long time ago, but with just two objects, not a whole circle.


  • gene

    Reply Reply December 4, 2009

    one day a week I have been doing circuit trianing with tire flips, jump onto tire, sledgehammer the tire to submission, then clubell/mace-like cast the sledge around, rotate slam a small tire into the tree, pant for 30 seconds and start over for more self abuse. Sometimes I throw in light weight barbell snatches.

  • haha well put with the “pant for 30 seconds” Gene


  • Fred

    Reply Reply December 4, 2009

    Terrific post! I’m going to have visit you more often! That’s a great list of bodyweight options…(thanks for describing what “handwalking was)…have to start mixing more of those into my training sessions.
    Thanks again.

  • Santa Monica Jack

    Reply Reply December 4, 2009

    Great article! Love them all! Conditioning work rules, bodybuilding stuff suck!

  • Bryan

    Reply Reply December 6, 2009

    Let me start by saying this site is getting better with each post. Congrats on that Joe. My GPP exercises would include push ups (different styles), Pull ups (different grips), BW Squats (with and without bands), different banded exercises, sled work and finally jumps ( box and long).

    • Bryan – thanks for the kind words!

      I also like your GPP list – good variety and difficulties. Nice Mix!


  • jhashey

    Reply Reply April 30, 2010

    Strength Training 103: GPP Explained

  • Isaac

    Reply Reply April 30, 2010

    i love conditioning work….wave of the future.

    my favorite workout is:
    1 min kettlebell swing
    30 sec rope jump
    1 min of tire hopping(hop in and out of tractor tire without touching rubber)
    30 sec rope jump
    1 min tire flips
    30 sec rope jump
    1 min sledgehammer swings
    1 min rest
    repeat 3 times

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