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Kevin Nason is one of the top Mash Mafia Powerlifters. He’s looking to close in on a 2000lb Raw and Drug Free total next weekend at the IPL World Championships. He has implemented a lot of new General Physical Preparedness into his program to increase work capacity, and to guarantee that there will be some energy left when the bar hits the floor. No matter if you are a powerlifter, weightlifter, or anyone that loves the barbell, this article should give you some cool ideas as to conditioning for the strength athlete. Enjoy!
Implementing G.P.P. Work for Strength Athletes by Kevin Nason
Follow Kevin on Instagram: ==> @knae55
Conditioning. What is it about this word that scares most strength athletes?
Just speaking of it strikes fear in our hearts. In our society, most of us would associate conditioning with doing cardio, or in simpler terms: running. In strength sports, we just don’t run. Why you may ask? Simple. The answer is ‘fear of losing strength.’ It wasn’t too long ago I would have been preaching the same message. Now I’m singing a different tune.
A few months ago I competed at the USPA Drug Tested Nationals and put together the best meet performance in my powerlifting career. At this competition I had personal records in all three lifts, as well as a personal best total and a National Championship. I should have been “on cloud nine” that day. But to tell you the truth, I still wasn’t satisfied with my performance. As a matter of fact, I was downright disappointed.
At the competition, the plan was to go 1900+ total. This should have been no issue. The first half of the meet was fantastic; I went 3 for 3 on both the squat and bench press. Needless to say, I was feeling very confident going into my final lift – the deadlift.
Here’s the deal. As I started preparing for deadlifts, I began to notice something else while warming up: FATIGUE. It was rapidly approaching with each warm-up set. Mentally, this was very frustrating. This feeling of exhaustion quickly changed my plan to just making it through the meet. By the end of the competition I went 1 for 3, just hitting my opener and finishing the meet 24 pounds short of my goal. I ran out of energy at the end of the day when it mattered the most. It was a hard pill to swallow.
For several days, I speculated about why it happened. I ended up going back to my training logs, videos, and talking with my training partners. What I realized was I needed endurance, or more GPP (General Physical Preparedness) work. From that moment on, I knew it was imperative to incorporate it into my next training cycle. So what exactly is GPP? And does it help?
General Physical Preparedness has been around since the 1950’s and was first used by coaches in the eastern part of the world (Russia, etc.). Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell defines it as ‘a degree of fitness, which is an extension of absolute strength.’ Think of it like this: the higher fitness level you have, the more your body can handle. The higher work capacity the athlete can handle, the faster the athlete can recover in training and in competition. The more you improve your strength, the more force you can produce on the main lifts. It helps prepare you for the more intense training coming up in your program.
As a powerlifter, how would I implement this into my training? The approach I took towards GPP was to treat it as an accessory exercise to help compliment my main lifts. You want it to help improve the powerlifting movements – not make it the main focus in your training. What I decided to do was program it for twice a week… sometimes three if everything is feeling good. Here is a list of exercises (with different variations of doing them) that I have been using to help improve my GPP:
Farmers walk: trap bar, dumbbells, farmer handles
Circuit training: tires, sleds, farmers walk, bear crawls, burpees, anything you can come up with
Log carries: 50 to 100 pound log, carry it 20 to 40 yards down and back
Tire flips: any size tire
Sled and prowler: 20 to 30 yards
Yoke walk: 20 to 25 yards down and back
Overhead carries: 20 yards down and back
Swimming: intervals (every hotel has a pool)
Uphill running: intervals
I have done all of this at one time or another with the goal being to do at least 3 to 5 rounds. I have noticed improvements in my conditioning and training with each session.
In raw powerlifting, it usually comes down to the deadlift to determine a winner. Whoever has more work capacity and can recover more quickly throughout the day will likely be the one standing on top of the podium. Conditioning yourself for a long competition might just be the advantage you need to get over the hump. By doing GPP, you not only improve your strength, speed, endurance, and flexibility, but your overall health. That’s the most important thing in the long run. I challenge you to try something out of the box and see the benefits you can gain from this type of training. If you don’t like it, at least you tried.
Remember to always stay hungry, be humble, and always be the hardest worker in the room.
Put God first and the rest will fall into place,
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