PRACTICAL GUIDE: GENERAL PHYSICAL PREPARATION (GPP)

How do you improve your performance in a way that supplements your sports training? By doing general physical preparation exercises, also known as GPP! Following is a practical guide that will help you build your general physical qualities all year round.

 

What is physical preparation?

The goal of physical preparation is to supplement your sports training and facilitate your ability to practise a sport. It helps you build your physical qualities and thereby improve your performance. It is also used in injury prevention and recovery.

There are two main types of physical preparation:

  • General physical preparation (GPP): serves to build and balance your body's general physical qualities as part of a general or extensive preparation workout.
  • Specific physical preparation (SPP): used by athletes especially during a pre-competition or competition phase. This workout helps them to reach their peak physical condition.

 

Which training program should you use to boost your physical condition?

Following is a general physical preparation programme that will increase your respiratory capacity and strengthen your entire body. If you already do another physical activity, do these exercises once a week in addition to your regular sport. If you don't, then ideally you should repeat these exercises 2-3 times a week.

Tips:

  • Allow one day of recovery between each training session (example: if you work out the upper body on Mondays, wait until Wednesday before working out that same area again).
  • Don't forget to keep your muscles well nourished by properly hydrating during and after your session.
  • Lastly, when you finish a session, do a few stretching exercises to recover (take deep breaths and stretch the muscles that you have worked out during your training).

 

1. CARDIO WORKOUT

How? On a treadmill or exercise bike at the gym or at home.

 

OPTION 1: treadmill or exercise bike / spinner.

  • Warm-up: Start your session with 10-15 minutes on a treadmill or exercise bike at your own pace, without pushing yourself. At home: if you don't have any exercise equipment, warm up by doing 5 minutes of skipping rope. Or run outdoors for 10-15 minutes to gradually get your heart rate up.
  • Main session: interval training. Start with 2 minutes of running (or pedalling) at a moderate pace (you should still be able to hold a conversation while running/pedalling) followed by 1 minute of sprinting. Repeat this exercise 5 times for a total of 15 minutes of training.
  • Cool down: finish your session with 5 minutes of active recovery. Walk/pedal to gradually lower your heart rate (it's important to never suddenly come to a full stop while exercising). Please note: if you do this training session on a bike, check your resistance setting: you should feel some friction working against you as you pedal (it shouldn't feel like your legs are just spinning).

 

OPTION 2: do the same session outdoors (on a bike, or running).

 

OPTION 3: use a skipping rope.

Following the same principle, do 1 minute of skipping rope (moderate pace) followed by 30 seconds of recovery. Repeat this same exercise 5 times, followed by 2 minutes of cool down (skipping rope without pushing yourself = don't relax), or walk to gradually lower your heart rate.

 

MORE DIFFICULT OPTION: in addition to the above workout (indoor/outdoor/skipping rope), do a 1 minute/1 minute loop a total of 5 times.

 

TRAINING #2: UPPER BODY STRENGTHENING

Repeat the following set of physical preparation exercises: perform each exercise one after the other. Once you've finished the entire set, rest for 1 minute before repeating the set. Do a total of 3 to 5 sets.

 

Exercise 1: PUSH-UPS

 

  • Objective: build your chest muscles.

 

  • Performing the exercise: Place your hands flat on the ground, spaced apart past your shoulders; fingers spread out and facing forward. Spread your feet to hip width. Push yourself up with your arms while keeping your body straight. Your head should stay aligned with the rest of your body.

 

  • Breathing: Inhale as you lower your body to the ground by flexing your elbows, then return to your starting position by extending your arms as you exhale. Repeat the movement.

 

  • Safety tips: Remember to keep your body straight and contract your abs throughout the exercise.

 

  • Repetitions: 15 to 20 (or 10 to 15 reps if you find the exercise too difficult).

 

Easier option: perform the same exercise on your knees.

 

EXERCISE 2: CRUNCHES

 

  • Objective: build your rectus abdominis muscles.

 

  • Performing the exercise: Lie on your back and pull your legs towards you until your thighs are at a 90° angle with your torso. Keep your hands behind your neck for support (but don't pull your head forward). Roll your torso forward while tucking in your chin. Contract your abs and keep your lower back touching the floor. Smoothly return to your starting position (no jerky movements).

 

  • Breathing: Inhale at the start of the movement, exhale as you roll up your torso.

 

  • Safety tips: To protect your lumbar vertebrae, do not lift your lower back off the floor.

 

  • Repetitions: 20.

 

Exercise 3: FRONT AND SIDE CORE MUSCLES

 

  • Objective: Core exercises work out most of the muscles of your torso but especially help strengthen the surface and deep muscles of your abdominals (rectus, transverse, and obliques). They protect your inter-vertebral discs by strengthening your back's muscle tone (the para-lumbar muscles).

 

  • Performing the exercise: Propped up on your forearms and toes, raise your pelvis so that your legs, pelvis and torso are aligned. Tighten your glutes and pull in your stomach to stabilise your back, and hold the position for 45 to 60 seconds. Keep this raised position and perform the same exercise while leaning on your right side, and then your left.

 

  • Breathing: Breathe slowly and deeply as you hold each plank position.

 

  • Safety tips: Take care to correctly tilt your pelvis while contracting your glutes and abdominals throughout the exercise.

 

  • Repetitions:  Hold the position for 45 to 90 seconds on each side (front, right, left).

 

  • Easier option: rest on your knees instead of your toes, while keeping your pelvis raised.

 

Exercise 4: PULL-UPS AND PULL-DOWNS

 

  • Objective: build your dorsal (back) muscles.

 

  • Option 1:  pull down.

Pull the bar down to your chin by lowering your elbows to a right angle; don't pull in towards your chest.

Note: you should lift about 1/4 of your body weight (1/2 for men). For example, if you weigh 60 kg, lift a 15 kg load. Note that this number is simply a guideline; you should adjust the load based on your physical condition and fitness level.

  • Option 2: pull up.

Grasp the bar with arms extended (palms of your hands facing upward), and lift your body by raising your chin towards the bar. Tighten your abs to protect your lumbar muscles (be careful not to arch your back).

 

  • Repetitions: 10 to 15 pull-ups.

 

EXERCISE 5: PRONE BUST LIFTS

  • Objective: build the lumbar (lower back) muscles.

 

  • Performing the exercise: Lie prone on your stomach, facing the floor, arms alongside the body. If needed, place a towel under your forehead to be more comfortable. Inhale and then exhale while simultaneously raising your bust and your legs off the ground. Return to your starting position.

 

  • Breathing: Inhale at your starting position then exhale while contracting your muscles.

 

  • Safety tips: Do not raise your bust too high. Make sure to pull your stomach in to tighten the abs and protect your back throughout the entire exercise.

 

  • Repetitions: 10 to 15 reps.

 

TRAINING #3: STRENGTHEN THE LOWER BODY

Repeat the following set of physical preparation exercises: perform each exercise one after the other. Once you've finished the entire set, rest for 1 minute before repeating the set. Do a total of 3 to 5 sets.

 

Exercise 1: SQUATS

 

  • Objective: Build your thigh and buttock muscles (quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes).

 

  • Performing the exercise: Stand with your back straight, feet at shoulder width. Bend your legs while keeping your upper body as straight as possible. During the movement, your knees should not bend further than a 90° angle. Exhale as you come back to your starting position by pushing down on your heels.

 

  • Breathing: Inhale as you lower your body and exhale as you come back up.

 

  • Safety tips: Keep your upper body as straight as possible as you lower and raise your body. Contract your abs throughout the exercise. Focus your gaze on a point in front of you to keep your balance.

 

  • Repetitions: 20 reps.

 

Exercise 2: Lunges

 

  • Objective: Strengthen your quads, glutes and hamstrings.

 

  • Performing the exercise: Stand up with one foot in front, arms down at your sides, upper body straight. Inhale and flex both knees to 90°.

 

  • Breathing: Inhale as you lower your body, exhale as you come back up.

 

  • Safety tips: Remember to keep your upper body straight and contract your abs by pulling in your stomach throughout the exercise. Focus your gaze on a point in front of you to keep your balance.

 

  • Repetitions: 15 reps for each leg.

 

Exercise 3: SIDE LIFTS

 

  • Objective: to build up your glutes.

 

  • Performing the exercise: Lay on your side with legs extended and head resting on your arm. Lift your leg until it is a bit higher than your hips, and then lower it back to your starting position but do not rest it (continue to contract your muscles, do not relax them).

 

  • Breathing: Inhale at the starting position and exhale as you lower your leg.

 

  • Safety tips: Keep your body tight, and do not raise your leg too high.

 

  • Repetitions: 20 reps on each side.

 

More difficult option: add ankle weights to further strengthen your legs. 

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