A Safe, Effective GPP Programme
The hot new fitness trend is ‘functional fitness,’ sometimes also referred to as ’GPP’, General Physical Preparation. That’s a shift away from the kind of training that you’d see in a traditional gym, which is maybe why the gym industry’s not doing so well these days.
Some GPP programs will see you doing ‘boot camp’ style exercises. Others borrow training methods form a range of other training modalities, such as Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics or kettlebells. Some of these are the hot new thing, some of them are forgotten favourites or ‘old time secrets.’ Whatever the method, the idea is to focus on strength and conditioning simultaneously, to arrive at a state in which you’re prepared for anything.
Think about it: marathon runners and powerlifters are seriously fit athletes, but one can’t move the couch and the other can’t run for the bus. They’re specialised forms of fitness. Most of us face everyday physical tasks like carrying shopping, holding a baby, or putting bags of mulch in the back of the car. We don’t need to bench 600lb, but we will be asked to put luggage in the overhead rack on a plane. We don’t need to run 24 miles but we want to play ball with our families. We need a training system that specialises in not being specialised. That’s as good a description of GPP as any.
So what does Cavemantraining have to offer that’s different?
There are a wide range of training modalities that promise to deliver GPP. And let’s not be mistaken: in the words of Dan John, longtime strength and throwing coach and competitor, ‘everything works.’
The question is which works best. Some GPP programs take a lot of their material from Olympic lifting or gymnastics. Many of these are the modalities of choice for serious athletes, getting truly impressive results. Why not use them ourselves?
In his classic A Programme of Multi-Year Training in Weightlifting, AS Medvedev, a Soviet weightlifting coach, advised that the first two years be spent lifting no more than half bodyweight, with technical proficiency the only goal. But most people don’t want to spend two years practising before they can even start working out!
The big advantages of Olympic weightlifting are in the compound nature of its lifts and in rate of force development, which simply means what it says: generating power from a standing start, as fast as possible. But both these attributes can be trained without using the O-lifts.
Cavemantraining focusses on training methods that are simple, intuitive and effective. Some will look familiar from MMA or wrestling training footage, because combat sports require a very high level of GPP – as do law enforcement and firefighters. But Cavemantraining is about efficacy and simplicity, so if a new tool delivers, you’ll encounter it. So you’ll find staples like sledgehammer hits and tyre flipping, both of which have great crossover to combat sports – but also to many everyday tasks. You’ll find prowler work, the conditioning tool of choice for… well, nearly every fitness professional, because it allows you to work your cardiovascular system hard without worrying about form. A prowler is a sled on wheels, which can be loaded with weights and either pushed or pulled. It sounds simple because it is, but if you think simple is the same as easy, try it! You’ll find sandbag work, because sandbags are a perfect training tool for simple, big movements that don’t have the technical demands that traditional weightlifting does. Sandbags and ‘logs’ (really a sort of barbell alternative) allow loading and strength development while keeping the movements simple enough to learn quickly and start using immediately. And you’ll find simple, effective bodyweight training using standbys like burpees and squats.
Cavemantraining is based on replicating the ‘training methods’ of our primal ancestors. As such it’s focussed on simple, instinctive movements that offer a lot of ‘bang for the buck’ by being compound, loaded and aimed towards improving fitness and strength at the same time.