How to Build General Physical Preparedness (Tips to Build a Fitness Foundation)

“…a state of readiness”
Fitness, strength gains, body re-composition, sport performance, etc all require one underlying trait:
General Physical Preparedness, according to Bondarchuk in his book Transfer of Training in Sports, “GPP appear as a means of all-round development of the individual, and have a positive influence on increasing to general level of work ability and coordination.”
From a practical application standpoint, if we want to improve our GPP for our sport or desired outcome we need to establish fundamental abilities of the:
– joint mobility, health, and ranges of motion necessary for the sport. Generally we need enough mobility and stability at the requisite areas to support the sport positions, help mitigate injury risk, and to be able to complete training exercises with utmost quality later in the program. 
– Soft tissue capacity to support the sport demands. i.e. we want to be able to do withstand absorbing and producing the amounts of force necessary. 
– Metabolic & Cardiac capacities necessary for the sport. i.e. we need the underlying conditioning needed to recover from more advanced training methods later on and to recover from competitive circumstances later on. A powerlifter doesn’t need to be able to run a marathon, but if your walk upstairs to the gym and your warm-up sets make you out of breath you’re probably not in good enough shape to perform the best at your sport. 
So, how do we begin to choose what to do to address the above qualities? Begin with a needs assessment! The point of this article isn’t to create a comprehensive tutorial on needs assessment methods, as many others have created diverse and effective methods for doing so which you can access elsewhere online. Assuming most folks reading this are not other coaching professionals but rather athletes trying to get better at their sport, therefore for our purposes we are going to ask a few simple questions as our needs analysis.
What joint actions to I rely most heavily on for my sport?
 – for example, someone competing in jiu-jitsu may note down they need hip mobility (flexion and abduction) and shoulder mobility behind the torso like in a kimura lock (internal rotation and extension) 
What kind of forces am I producing and absorbing and what parts of my body are doing this work?
– A basketball player might note that their Achilles and calves need to be able to absorb and produce explosive force along with the rest of their lower body. 
A pitcher might note that they need to produce lots of explosive and rotational force from the ground up through to their shoulder and arm. 
What are the conditioning demands of my sport?
What HR does the sport generally occur in?
For how long does a given intensity need to be maintained and what are the rest times?
– An MMA fighter is going to need to be able to repeat 5 x 5 minute rounds of variable but intense cardiovascular and muscular activity with 1 minute rests at maximum. 
A powerlifter needs the underlying ability to have heart rate recovery between sets and to recover from a baseline of supportive strength training volume.General cardiac fitness through low intensity activity in a sufficient volume (like lots of walking) will provide a great base. Because of Hennemans size principle, their type II muscle fibers will be used heavily so some conditioning work that prioritizes type II muscle fibers and their alactic capacity may also help support training as long as the volume of work isn’t excessive as to dip into their recovery from heavier work.  Though bike sprints near a powerlifting competition shouldn’t generally be occurring as GPP programming is executed the furthest out from competition and is the least sporting specific cycle of an athletes season. 

Action Items

If the above information felt overwhelming, this is your reminder that simple, imperfect, and highly executable plans are better than complicated perfect ones that are difficult to realize. 


Over the next 12 weeks spend time:

Working on the stability and basic mobility of your major joints 1-3 days a week. 

Use scaled, low intensity strength work at higher volumes shifting towards moderate intensity moderate volume work over the 12 weeks for the full body on a regular basis. Emphasize movements that develop musculature you need for your sport. Make a spread sheet, plan your set and rep schemes in advanced and track the changes in load moved and set volume over this time. 

Spend lots of time developing your general cardiac health:

  • get enough sleep
  • take your resting HR in the AM before getting out of bed or monitor it with a smart watch
  • test your HR recovery (how fast your HR drops back to baseline within 1 min, 2 min, and 3 min after activity). 
  • Walk 10,000 steps a day MINIMUM

Spend time 1-2 days a week doing short intense intervals at a low volume with small volume increases up to 12 weeks

Spend time 1-2 days a week doing work that mimics your sport needs.

If you have questions about specifically designing programming or are interested in customized programming and coaching contact me at 



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