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Understanding General Physical Preparedness (GPP)

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By: Coach Ryan Chavez

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Crossfit OG (original gangster), Chris Spealler, answers the question “do you want a 3 minute mile or an 800lbs back squat” by stating, “I want the best of both worlds.”

General physical preparedness (GPP) is something that all crossfit athletes possess in some sort of way. This basically means that if you are asked to run a mile or back squat heavy, you’re going to be pretty decent at both, especially compared to an athlete who only runs or an athlete who only back squats. A crossfit athlete will have “the best of both worlds” because they will be trained and prepared for whatever is thrown their way.

Given a list of, let’s say, 3 different workouts, one being a marathon, one being to find your heaviest back squat and the last being max muscle ups in 5 minutes and  3 different types of athletes, one being a seasoned marathon runner, a body builder and lastly, a crossfit athlete, what results could we expect across all three WODs?

The marathon runner would take the run hands down, but will only be able to maybe back squat their body weight and probably knock out a few muscle ups, not too bad, right? The body builder will destroy the back squat, but can you see that 250+ pound athlete running a marathon? Muscle ups? Ahhh! Now let’s take the crossfitter. This athlete will finish somewhere in the middle of the marathon, lift a decent amount compared to body weight on the back squat, and will kill the muscle ups. Not one workout will be something that the crossfit athlete will be just terrible at. The crossfit athlete will be the most well-rounded and most prepared athlete when blindly being asked to do certain movements or workouts. This is called targeting programming vs bias programming.

In crossfit, we are targeting weaknesses every single day we step into the gym. The goal with crossfit training should involve us being good at many things and not just being great at one single movement or workout. Of course, we all have our one/few workouts or lifts that we know we can just crush, which is great, especially if you are able to recognize that and build off of it, but one thing we must not do is neglect those other areas which we know we struggle. If you love to overhead squat, GREAT, but that does not mean you have to overhead squat everyday. If you hate handstand push ups, that’s OK, you’re not alone, take some time after your workout to work on them and eventually master them. On that same token, if you struggle at something in particular, do not make it an obsession and forget or neglect all other areas of your fitness.

The moral of targeting vs bias is simple, you must first recognize your strengths and weaknesses , then key in on those areas which you want improvement. Target your weakness but do not be bias to those areas of great strength. The same goes the other way, don’t abandon something you’re good at, just because you think you’ve mastered it, fitness goals are lifelong and have no expiration date.