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At Black Flag Athletics, every 10 days or so, you’ll witness our classes engaging in what might seem like unconventional workouts: carrying heavy kettlebells, lugging sandbags, pushing and pulling sleds, and crawling in various directions. This isn’t just a random assortment of exercises; this is General Physical Preparedness (GPP) work should be a cornerstone of any functional fitness program.

What is General Physical Preparedness (GPP)?

GPP is all about preparing the body for a wide range of physical activities. It focuses on building a base level of fitness that enhances overall capacity to work and maintain strength. The concept is simple: picking things up and moving them from point A to point B is one of the most fundamental and functional movements you can perform.

In a fitness world often dominated by flashy trends and complicated routines, GPP stands out for its simplicity and effectiveness. It’s about going back to basics and focusing on movements that create the biggest return in terms of strength, endurance, and overall fitness.

The Benefits of GPP Work

  1. Increases in Work Capacity: By regularly engaging in GPP, you build the ability to perform a wide range of physical tasks efficiently and effectively.
  2. Core Strength Enhancement: Movements like carrying heavy objects demand stability and strength from your core, leading to significant improvements.
  3. Overall Strength Gains: The full-body nature of GPP exercises means that you develop strength in multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
  4. Cardiovascular Fitness: GPP isn’t just about muscle; it also challenges your cardiovascular system, enhancing your endurance and overall fitness.
  5. Fixing Asymmetries and Imbalances: By engaging in multi-directional and varied movements, GPP helps correct muscular imbalances and improve symmetry.
  6. Improved Coordination and Body Control: The diverse range of movements enhances neuromuscular coordination and overall body control.
  7. Increased Muscular Mass: The resistance and effort required in GPP exercises promote muscle growth.

Real-Life Impact of GPP

Our commitment to GPP at Black Flag Athletics is not just based on theory. Over the years, we’ve conducted small case studies within our community. Over the course of six weeks, we simply challenged our athletes to perform loaded carries weekly, while limiting their loaded squatting (they still did air squats and Olympic lifts). The results were pretty cool: almost all participants either maintained or increased their back squat numbers. This underscores the importance of GPP in developing postural strength and stability, key factors in improving squatting performance and increasing overall systemic strength.

The GPP Experience

Imagine picking up a sandbag, hugging it close, and taking it for a long walk. It sounds simple, but the challenge is profound. The act of pushing, pulling, and walking with heavy objects teaches you to appreciate the value and simplicity of GPP. It’s a workout that tests your limits, builds your strength, and enhances your stability in ways few other exercises can.

Why GPP Should Be Part of Your Routine

Some of the world’s strongest athletes dedicate up to 80% of their training to GPP work. If strength development, quality of life, and longevity are important to you, incorporating GPP into your routine is a no-brainer. Its benefits far outweigh any potential drawbacks, making it a key component of a well-rounded fitness regimen.

At Black Flag Athletics, we believe in the power of GPP. It’s more than just a workout; it’s a fundamental approach to building a strong, resilient, and capable body. So next time you see our classes carrying kettlebells or crawling across the floor, know that they’re not just exercising—they’re laying the foundation for a lifetime of strength and fitness.

Yours In Fitness, 

Thomas M. Rini, MEd.

CSCS | CFL3 | Fitness Specialist | Biomechanics Specialist | USAWL1 

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

Owner/Head Coach – Black Flag Athletics