It seems that a current trend in strength and conditioning for athletes is to ignore "sport-specific" training all together in the weight room and lump it under the umbrella category of "GPP". This is a poor excuse on the part of trainers and coaches to ignore the needs of specific clientele.
The term GPP (general physical preparation) is used to describe preparatory training for a specific need or goal. GPP is a phase of training that is a pre/co-requisite of "SPP", or Special[ized] Physical Preparation. It is NOT the same thing as general fitness, although it could be a phase of training towards the goal of general fitness. GPP is only relevant when considered in the context of SPP. The inclusion of GPP (as I have defined it here) in a training plan indicates an awareness of the need for sequencing in the training process.
As Greg Everett writes in a recent article, entitled Plandomization, "Being prepared for any random task is not the same thing as preparing randomly for any task". Many people take the idea of being "ready for anything at anytime" too far, suggesting that adaptation is somehow a bad thing and that being "ready for anything" requires a large corpus of exercises and training modes. The reality is that most of us need to focus harder on less.
We are all familiar with the famous Friedrich Nietzsche quote, "That which does not kill me makes me stronger", and it's nice and motivational, but in reality (training-wise at least) it's a bunch of crap. Misplaced effort can and probably WILL make you weaker.
Everyone who's given the idea much thought at all knows that not all GPP is created equal, especially when the ultimate goal is (as it should be) to further SPP. Developing athletes can afford to be sloppy in their programming and will often show improvement no matter how foolish the training plan. Advanced athletes, on the other hand, still need GPP, but, in the big picture, they need much, much less than developing athletes... and the absolutely last thing they need is a lot of superfluous GPP work. I don't mean to pick a strawman argument here, but 100 ring push-ups and air squats for highly skilled football players are just misplaced effort in my humble, humble opinion.
It may also be relevant to curtail or eliminate standard types of GPP from the training programme of anyone who is an advanced athlete or has trained regularly for a prolonged period at increasing levels of proficiency. Similarly, the use of GPP-type exercises may be appropriate for brief periods during the SPP to facilitate recovery or prevent stagnation. Moreover, the methods of GPP training are unsuitable for adequately or timeously stimulating improvements in performance among advanced athletes, whose trainability has already waned considerably over years of competition and whose continued growth depends on more specific or demanding methods.
- Siff (Supertraining, p. 315)
In my last post about "Drinking Kool-Aid", I asked two questions:
"Is it necessary to 'drink the Kool-Aid' if you want to see how far a specific program can take you?"
The answer to this is maybe.
"If you 'drink the Kool-Aid' does that render you completely incapable of seeing a program’s possible limitations?"
The answer to this is obviously.
When I was 11 years old, in the Post-Bruce Lee and Pre-Karate Kid/Ninja-Boom era, I started Tae Kwon Do lessons. I had class everyday during summer vacations and three or four times a week during the rest of the year. I loved it. My teachers were my heroes (and still are btw). Tae Kwon Do was the best martial art in the world. I had arguments with students of other arts about which was best. Eventually, I learned that such arguments were silly at best and did absolutely nothing to better anyone - it took me years to realize this however.
you will see every problem as a nail."
- Abraham Maslow
It really is about the right tool for the right job. NO tool is the best for everything. Let me repeat that NO TOOL IS THE BEST FOR EVERYTHING.
Needs and goals, and how effective and efficient the tool, method, or coach is in delivering the goods is all that is really worth considering. Disparate goals may require different training plans, but a divide and conquer approach, considering developmental sequence will almost always be more effective than a mix-mash training potpourri.
When considering a training approach you may be tempted by stories of others who attribute their achievements to a coach or school of thought. Success stories are helpful. We make decisions based on trusting these endorsements - as we should. But, success stories are NOT proof that the training method or mode is the best for any or every individual or goal at any given time. We all know examples of athletes who succeeded despite their training regimens and poor coaching, not because of them. Statistics have a way of becoming skewed when we listen to the zealots. "Research" in the S&C field, especially research comparing the relative effectiveness of specific programs, still has A LONG way to go.
Enthusiasm for a given school, approach, method, way, template, routine, diet, or tool is natural, and trust in your training is essential if you want to succeed. If your Kool-Aid du jour is helping you achieve your goals, great! More power to you and your Kool-Aid! But, please, please, please don't become the annoying Kool-Aid evangelist...
Kool-Aid Evangelist (kool eyd i-van-juh-list)
1. A person who sings the gospel of their chosen training/diet regimen and denounces all other forms of training/diet as less worthy.
2. A person who believes the answer to every training question is to follow the guidelines and principles stated (or unstated) by their chosen training/diet regimen.
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