By Brian Hill and Willie Danzar

The competitive season is demanding on the anatomical structures of our athletes. As strength and conditioning coaches, we must establish the importance of eliminating these issues. At Northwestern State, we inform our teams that their off-season begins once their season completes but not as a means of max effort or dynamic effort. This block solely works to reestablish their initial general physical preparedness (GPP).

Program design

We recognize that this block needs to serve as the most general and the most varied for training exercises, but more importantly, it must serve as a means for active restoration. According to Medvedeyev (1989), GPP training serves several functions:

  • as the formation, strengthening, or restoration of habits (skills) that play an auxiliary, facilitory role in perfecting sports
  • as a means of educating abilities developed insufficiently by the selected type of sport, raising the general work capacity, or preserving it
  • as active rest assisting the restoration processes after significant, specific loading and counteracting the monotony of the training

These functions define the role of the general, preparatory exercises in the athlete’s training system. Exercise selection is crucial, and many coaches will relate to this. However, it’s difficult to assess every athlete when you don’t have the luxury of a large staff. So to help with exercise selection, little consideration was given to one single muscle imbalance or prehabilitation exercise unless the athlete was recovering from an in-season injury.

We utilized a three-day high volume program that incorporated weekly progressions of unilateral upper and unilateral lower body movements with eccentric, isometric, and normal speed contractions. According to Siff (2003), the volume of loading should be high during GPP and its intensity should be low.

We included several fundamental methods from Coach X’s GPP manual:

  • Develop, reestablish, and increase your work capacity
  • Reintroduce yourself to the fundamentals of strength development and dynamic functional flexibility
  • Start eliminating structural weaknesses developed over the course of a season
  • Provide a functional background on which to commence hypertrophy and strength training
  • Use lower intensities to provide a means of active restoration
  • Start eliminating unwanted body fat

One day sample of a two-week block

Week 1 Week 2
Core Work E - I - C Resistance S X R RI E - I - C Resistance S X R RI
A1. McGill sit-ups (sit on your hands) 1-5-1 BW 2 X 10e 1-5-1 BW 2 X 15e
A2. Lying leg raises (dorsiflexion & lead with heel) 1-5-1 BW 2 X 10 1-5-1 BW 2 X 15
A3. Front plank 1-45-1 BW X 2 1-45-1 BW X 2
A4. Lazy superman (opposite arm/leg raise) 1-5-1 BW 2 X 10e 1-5-1 BW 2 X 15e
Body Activation/Prehabilitation
B1. 2-board iso-push-up hold 1-20-1 BW 2 X 20s 30s 1-25-1 BW 2 X 25s 30s
C1. Band internal/external cuff at side 1-10-10 TB 2 X 10e 60s 1-10-10 TB 2 X 10e 60s
B2. Iso-lunge hold 1-30-1 BW 2 X 30s 30s 1-40-1 BW 2 X 40s 30s
C2. Hurdle overs and unders 1-1-1 BW 2 X 10e 60s 1-1-1 BW 2 X 12e 60s
B3. Half table tops (shoulders on bench, drive through heels) 1-30-1 BW 2 X 30s 30s 1-40-1 BW 2 X 40s 30s
C3. Manual resistance four way neck 1-10-1 MR 2 X 4 X 8e 60s 1-10-1 MR 2 X 4 X 8e 60s
Movement Preparation
D. Week 1: Fatman pull-ups: Overhand knees bent 1-5-1 BW 2 X 10 60s 1-5-1 BW 2 X 12 60s
Week 2: Fatman pull-ups: Underhand legs straight or or
Week 3: Fatman pull-ups: Overhand legs straight 5-1-1 5-1-1
Week 4: Fatman pull-ups: Underhand feet on box
Week 5: Fatman pull-ups: Overhand feet on box
Week 6: Eccentric (lowering) Pull-up
E.  Week 1: Bulgarian split squat 1-5-1 DB 2 X 10e 60s 1-5-1 DB 2 X 12e 60s
Week 2: Bulgarian sprinter squat
Week 3: Front lunge
Week 4: Front foot elevated backward lunge
Week 5: Backward lunge and twist
Week 6: Spiderman lunge
F. Week 1: Chest supported scap retractions with weight 1-5-1 DB 2 X 10 60s 1-5-1 DB 2 X 12 60s
Week 2: Push-up position scap retractions
Week 3: Plank position scap retractions
Week 4: Seated band or cable scap retractions B/C B/C
Week 5: Standing band or cable scap retractions B/C B/C
Week 6: Bent over barbell scap retractions
G. Week 1: Double leg sprinter bridge 1-5-1 BW 2 X 10 60s 1-5-1 BW 2 X 12 60s
Week 2: Single leg sprinter bridge or Or or Or
Week 3: Alternating sprinter bridge 5-1-1 2 X 10e 5-1-1 2 X 10e
Week 4: Alternating sprinter bridge straight leg march
Week 5: Eccentric glute ham
Week 6: Eccentric poor-man glute ham
H. *Special exercise 1-1-1 Bar 3 X 10 60s 1-1-1 Bar 3 X 12 60s
I. *Special exercise 1-1-1 Bar 3 X 10 60s 1-1-1 Bar 3 X 12 60s
J. *Special exercise 1-1-1 Bar 3 X 10 60s 1-1-1 Bar 3 X 12 60s

*Special exercises are incorporated to work technique on initial lifts in your program (e.g. box squat, hang clean, push press, bench press, front squat).

It must be noted that our fall season teams were given the first week off and performed week’s two and three at our facility. Weeks three through six were left upon the athlete to complete during their winter break. With the exception of a couple of sports (e.g. men’s and women’s basketball, who start their season mid-fall and finish mid-spring), their GPP phase was completed during the spring semester. Our spring semester teams were instructed on their summer workouts, which included the initial GPP block.


  • Coach X. GPP Training Manual. Elite Fitness Systems.
  • Medvedyev AS (1989) A System of Multi-Year Training in Weightlifting. (Charniga A, trans.). Sportivny Press: Livonia, MI. (Original work published in 1986 Fizkultura i Spovt: Moscow, Russia).
  • Siff MC (2000) Supertraining. Supertraining Institute, Denver, Colorado.

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