We believe the aim of a good GPP program is to get people fit without breaking down their bodies.
Our GPP program is built to keep our members fit for life. The Fitness Tracks at CrossFit Haymount are designed to encourage decades of health and fitness.
“Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.” – Greg Glassman (CrossFit Founder/CEO)
CrossFit prides itself on the fact that its athletes train and prepare for the unexpected. We believe a GPP program is the best way to do that. GPP is short for General Physical Preparedness, and it is used to improve your ability across all areas of fitness — speed, strength, endurance, flexibility, power, coordination, and so on. It is the opposite of SPP, or Specific Physical Preparedness, which is used to increase your capacity in one area of fitness.
GPP is non-biased, meaning not biased toward one skill or area of fitness, such as strength or gymnastics. SPP is biased, with its programming predominantly built around one area. Programming that includes a strength piece before a METCON every day is biased toward strength. It is an SPP program.
The problem with SPP is that you end up “specializing” in whatever you decide to train. When you specialize in one area, you lose capacity in others. For instance, if you are too good at strength, you will probably have limited cardio ability (and vice versa). That is the problem with a strength-biased program. You can get strong, but your focus on strength sacrifices other skills, such as flexibility, speed, or endurance.
This is why many professional athletes’ training consists of both SPP and GPP — they are trying to round out their physicality, but need to be great at their one thing. They follow a varied program and then target their weaknesses with a biased program. You see this a lot with CrossFit competitors. The big strong folks hit the track, and runners try to make the barbell their new best friend.
For the general public, who is not competing in a sport, GPP is by far the best option because the goal is to be more fit for life, meaning the focus is on decades of fitness, not just this year or next year. Everyday people are not competitors. They are not willing to sacrifice their long-term health in order to “win” in the short-term.
We believe the aim of a good GPP program should be to get people fit without breaking down their bodies or over stressing any one area. And, of course, to physically prepare them for whatever the world throws their way.
We are focused on overall fitness and longevity, not quick wins.
We do not write strength-biased programming because we believe you can get as strong as you need to be with a GPP program, with less risk of specializing or losing overall fitness.
Because we program GPP, we generally only have one true focus every day. If you look at a session plan, you will see that each plan has a general warmup, skill work, a workout and cool down. Yes, there are different components to a session, but those pieces are not all workouts in themselves. There is, for the most part, one workout and then all the other pieces are built around it, to support it.
A major problem with the “Strength + METCON” formula is that one session can include two to three workouts. When there are multiple workouts every day, there is little to no time to learn, practice, rest or coach. We see this as one of the biggest problems with many “CrossFit” programs — there are just too many workouts packed into one session.
We’re not saying it’s impossible for a gym to run a quality “Strength + METCON” model, it’s just a lot harder to write a solid program if you’re following that formula. Our session plans each have multiple components, but there is generally one main focus per day. We can look at the weekly calendar and see the focus for each day, allowing us to carefully organize and plan a balanced program across each week, month, and months. Conversely, when you program both “Strength + METCON” pieces into every session, you are doubling or tripling the complexity of focuses for the day, week and month, which makes it much more difficult to see the nuance in the program.
We program for the 99% because most of us don’t need to train like competitors to get fit. Volume comes with a price.
Most of us come to CrossFit to be better at activities they enjoy, to look better, to get healthier, to have a positive outlet for stress, you name it. We are the 99%. We do not want to risk burning out our members, creating over-fatigue, or causing injuries by running aggressive, SPP based programming.
From the beginning, CrossFit was one WOD a day. Either a strength workout or a metcon, rarely both. That was it. No matter who you were, or how fit you were, that was the daily routine. After the CrossFit Games became a global sensation (~2009), athletes began adding volume to their routines to keep up with the demands of competition. That training mentality has begun to creep into the local CrossFit gyms as athletes yearn to hang with the top athletes.
The difference between everyday CrossFitters and Competitors is that one group knows the bargain they made for that extra volume, and the other group doesn’t. Competitors know that volume comes at a cost. They understand that working out twice a day is not as sustainable for decades. But they’re not concerned about the long game quite as much. They’re focused on what they have to do right now, today, to prepare for the 3-day storm that is the CrossFit Games or Regionals or whatever local competition. Their goals and their time frame for getting there are entirely different than the everyday person who wants to get fit, look better, and be healthy well into their 90s. The art of being a competitor is to manage volume, injury, and adaptation. This thin line is something that normal members should not be concerned with.
Let us also consider that Competitors generally have mastered the basics and are heavily monitored by coaches and specialists. They know exactly how many hours they will train each week and when they will recover. They put in extra time for pain management, mobility, nutrition, you name it. And they work with doctors, surgeons and specialists to help with the damage. Regular CrossFitters don’t have an entourage of experts. They are generally not as proficient with all the movement mechanics. They need more education. They need to learn about intensity. They need help with finding better positions to potentiate the strength they already have, and that doesn’t require a daily strength piece.
When a session has a singular focus, instead of multiple workouts, there is more time for lower intensity work, which translates to more coaching and more time for practicing and learning new skills. These are neurological adaptations which are required for improvement in things like coordination, accuracy, agility, and balance.
Strength-biased program is not the only way to get strong.
We believe the “Strength + METCON” formula is popular because many people feel like frequent exposure to Olympic lifting is a faster way to accomplish two things:
1). Proficiency with Oly movements
2). Gains in strength
We’re not saying that’s wrong. We just think that a solid GPP program is another — perhaps better — way to accomplish those two goals without sacrificing overall fitness.
Individuals that want to specialize in Top End Strength should focus on Powerlifting.
Individuals that want to specialize in Explosive Strength should focus on Weightlifting.
At CrossFit Haymount, we want to train members to have an amazing capacity across both styles of strength and all other domains of fitness.
An individual’s approach to training ultimately comes back to their goals. If they want to get fitter, stronger, and healthier, they don’t need a strength-biased program. They will get plenty strong with a GPP program.
There are really only three groups of people who need a strength-biased program, or extra volume:
1. People who want to lift heavy more often simply because they enjoy lifting
2. Powerlifters and Weightlifters
Those of us in the 99% just need to get to the gym and workout hard, with good coaching. We need mechanics, consistency, and intensity – not a strength cycle.
One of the biggest myths around strength is that you have to follow a strength-biased program to get strong. And one of the biggest myths about switching to a GPP program is that your strength numbers will all slide downhill.
With our program, strength days are for strength only because we believe that when you do a genuine strength workout, you need to give it the respect that it deserves. If you want true strength gains, you need to spend a lot of time under a heavy amount of weight. So, when a strength day comes up, you need to focus, you need to take those days very seriously, and you need to hit that workout as hard as you possibly can. That’s how you get big, safe gains in strength without losing capacity in other areas.
For all Barbell Lovers and METCON Devotees
We believe it’s possible to make everyone happy with a GPP program. The lifters. The runners. The competitors. Please, just needs to stick with it.
We are not saying there is one right way to do CrossFit. A strength-biased program can work. So can a GPP program, with less risk of specialization. For that reason, CrossFit Haymount has chosen to follow a non-biased GPP model of programming. We are happy to provide extra barbell or conditioning work for anyone who believes they are not getting enough out of our daily programming — or if you happen to have unique fitness goals.
We hope that this page has been helpful, at least in understanding why we are following a GPP program. If you want to read more about what other folks in the functional fitness world think about GPP programming, here are some articles that you might find interesting —
- Volume, It Comes At A Cost. Chris Spealler’s blog.
- An Open Letter to the Big Dogs. The CrossFit Journal.
- An Open Letter to the Met-Heads. The CrossFit Journal.
- A Deft Dose of Volume. The CrossFit Journal.
- Programming for GPP. The CrossFit Journal.
- Programming Pitfalls. The CrossFit Journal.
- Programming as Culture. The CrossFit Journal.
- Biasing vs. Targeting in Programming. The CrossFit Journal.
- CrossFit and GPP. The CrossFit Journal.
- No Intensity, No Results. The CrossFit Journal.
- Intensity and Its Role In Fitness. The CrossFit Journal.
- Limited Membership, Limited Fitness?The CrossFit Journal.