Chalk Talk: “A Short Look at GPP”

*A Short Look at General Physical Preparedness*

Are you ready? Your response to that question is most likely “Am I ready for what?”. That is a valid and expected response. The truth is, we never know if we are “ready” for anything until we define what exactly we are ready for.

In the realm of sports and fitness, we can often determine how ready or prepared we are by the amount of time we spend perfecting a movement or enhancing a particular physical talent. For instance, the marathon runner will spend countless hours running. Mile after mile, they fine-tune their bodies and minds to perform at a level that many non-runners will ever understand. On the other hand, there is the bodybuilder, who spends hours sculpting muscles, lifting weights and dialing on food intake to ensure their bodies maximal performance.

To me, these are specialists. They focus on a certain aspect of physical preparedness and work diligently to better themselves at their craft. However, ask the runner to get under a heavy barbell and move it with force and precision, she will most likely fail. Ask the bodybuilder to put down the weights and immediately run a 10K race and they may not make it past the first 400 meters. Once again, they train to better their craft specifically.

As CrossFitters, we don’t specifically train to become great at one exercise, we train to be “good” at many; in essence out-lift a runner and out run a lifter. We train to have a high level of General Physical Preparedness. described GPP as short for “general physical preparedness and is used to describe your overall fitness level or your ability to perform work. Sounds a bit general, but it’s as simple as that. On the other hand, SPP, or specific physical preparedness relates more to your ability to perform and handle the rigors of your sport, whether it is MMA fighting, playing soccer or running a 10K road race.”

Coach Greg Glassman wrote several points outlining this idea as well:


  • GPP is the most underdeveloped and neglected aspect of athletic training, especially in elite athletes.


  • CrossFit produces an unmatched GPP in novice, intermediate, and advanced athletes regardless of their prior training and sport.


  • Every athlete we’ve worked with, from Olympic medalists to UFC legends, has some glaring chink in his/her GPP, and it takes at most two hours, two sessions, on average to find these chinks.


  • Fixing these chinks, these deficiencies, has an immediate benefit within your sport and very often in ways not quite obvious mechanically and perhaps metabolically. For instance, more pull-ups make for better skiing and skiers. Upper-body pushing movements make for better rowing and rowers. Anaerobic training is a boon to endurance athletes.


  • There’s greater margin for improving performance in elite athletes by improving GPP with CrossFit than can be garnered through additional sport-specific training.


  • “CrossFit produces a ‘ready state’ from which more advanced or sport-specific training becomes very efficient.” —Mark Twight


  • CrossFit will for many sports reduce the total training volume, reduce training injuries, and allow more time for vital sport specific skills and drills.


  • CrossFit is more fun and seems more athletic to experienced athletes than does traditional GPP.


  • CrossFit has athletes improving their fitness for years beyond, to levels significantly beyond, traditional GPP.


  • Sport training and physiology are not so well understood that highly specialized strength and conditioning routines are optimally effective.


This is just a simple overview of General Physical Preparedness and probably does not answer all the questions you may have as to why we train the way we do. You can define you fitness simply by the quality of fitness life you have now, versus the time before you started CrossFit. Did you ever think that you would be able to do 30 unbroken pull ups, then run 400 meters to return and then perform 20 squat cleans? That translates better to overall health than most activities out there!

We’ll continue to explore more about GPP in future Chalk Talks… as for now Team Manta Ray, remember that Ability is Limitless!