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General Physical Preparation
from "R Factor for Golf" By John Davies "If you are going to win any battle, you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do...the body is never tired if the mind is not tired." -General George S. Patton Golf TrainingWhile each of the physical attributes noted in the Renegade Wheel of Conditioning is essential, work threshold needs to be considered carefully given the broad age of those who play the game. Golf is truly a lifetime sport and naturally given how our level of health and fitness change during our lives, work threshold plays an integral part of our game. From an intensely practical vantage, it is quite easy to see that the majority of golfers, with their vast age range, focus their training on range of motion and this topic, general physical preparation. To enhance total work threshold we look to an area of generalized development, GPP. In some training circles today, General Physical Preparation (GPP) is unheard of, while within others it has become a bit of a buzz-word of late, a catch-all phrase for some mistaken idea of cardio-training. GPP may be in fact the hidden gem to improve athletic performance at all levels and furthermore combat the nation's failing health. This is of particular importance when you consider the other misused term of "functional training," which in golf circles has incumbents emulating their golf swing with weighted apparatus (highly unadvisable as noted in Chapter 9, as it could be detrimental to your performance). One very major error in training today is that it is confusing generalized training with intense specialized sport specific work. With a solid base of training and generalized development, enormous specialized gains on the golf course can occur and thus it is imperative to ensure your training has a high component of GPP, particularly in the earliest stages. Akin to a structure having a great foundation, a solid base of GPP will allow future gains and even specialized skills (if so desired) to be built upon. As we age this becomes much more important as it is necessary to not only specialize on certain activities and pursuits but still maintain broad-based levels of fitness and health. Amongst the many benefits such as work threshold development and enhanced recovery, it will also make you leaner and more virile, regardless of age. As we explore the use of General Physical Preparation in training it is valuable to understand the evolution of its needs. Over the last 25-50 years, one very common problem that filtered its way throughout a vast majority of the youth is that they were quickly evolving into an out-of-shape generation and the overweight youth population slowly emerged. Infected by a growing malaise of undisciplined work ethic, a society in which hard work seemed to have evaporated with every known convenience, a lessening demand of physical education classes in the school system, and poor training concepts, the general public was heading into a downward spiral without a pathway out. Simultaneously, along the same line much of our great country's youth had basically abandoned a healthy lifestyle and diet--one in which healthy recreational activities were a large part of, and instead the lifestyle has become sedentary with a diet based upon the deadly drive-thru. Shockingly, at this writing the majority of money spent by youth of this country is on fast-food. As decades rolled by from the 1970s to the present, new generations evolved into "living the dream" through video games. Incredible--using their thumbs to pretend playing healthy, fun games that should be a part of everyday life. Why bother going outside to play? The public's burgeoning waist-line has allowed itself pathetically to be sold by the corporate powers that be of the idea of watching life go by instead of living it. To the youth of America I wish to reveal that shockingly there was a time that you actually played outside with friends dawn to dusk. To further complicate matters for the strength and conditioning community, general athletics in the form of basic physical education has also been all but abandoned. Many of us are old enough to remember climbing ropes or circumventing obstacle courses in school, but those days have since long been abandoned and replaced by less strenuous work that could never serve as a foundation of general health. While those "quaint" approaches were considered outdated, what they truly did was help pave the way for improved athleticism via enhanced motor skills, overall athletic development and even the psychological process of learning how to attack challenges and overcome adversity. Within higher level athletic circles the work that is being done now is more and more highly specific to a particular athletic venue without a foundation of general physical development. Most young athletes today work on complex specialized needs of their sport but yet have never climbed a rope, done a somersault or even considered working on their range of motion. The strength and conditioning community will debate endlessly sets and reps schemes ad infinitum between exfoliations and re-filling their blue-pill needs but never take a step back and notice the incumbent athlete can't even do a somersault. From the vantage of the development of sport-specific skills, without a solid base of athleticism to build upon the athlete reaches the ceiling quickly and finds his efforts thwarted. Simply, we had gradually allowed the basis of our athletic work in the form of generalized physical education to be all but eliminated and it is manifested further in the burgeoning population's obesity problems as well as playing abilities. This is not simply an issue of discussing elite performance but also part of the reason why our nation is dying of obesity! So where does this take us now? Well, basically our nation has emerged larger, plumper and more out of shape than ever seen. It's pathetic really that a nation, a world of such wealth is devouring and under-working itself to death. Marketing crap is sold to us on the technological advances on virtually everything that would make our lives easier and more productive and yet the simple solution--work, hard work will set you free seems to be absent. True for many cases it has been highly advantageous for society, but of course that is a double-edged sword. Recreational activities or even exercise equipment were to designed to gradually make it easier and easier to perform tasks if not actually replace the physical activity. Basically, society has evolved in a manner akin to the troubled animal devouring it owns flesh to escape the confines of the trap. Yes, we as a culture have somehow become a generation that drives to the gym to walk on a treadmill. I suspect you now understand my opinion on the choice of walking the course versus the cart. With this problem squarely in my mind, I began designing my training programs realizing that most of my long-term objectives and training protocols would be severely impeded because of poor levels of fitness. Athletes at whatever level no longer had the necessary generalized training, basic motor skills, or the work threshold to undergo rigorous work and the fortitude to press on. Training, all training, must first recognize the need for a base or foundation. This may never be more of the case when you consider the incredible physical needs and technical skill needed to play golf. The success of my work has brought a lot of attention to GPP, and thankfully many athletes outside of the Renegade systems now attempt to employ it. Athletes throughout my programs that utilize my techniques quickly find a large series of benefits. But like many new concepts of training, they are easily misunderstood and incorporated in an incorrect manner. I see many programs throw the term around to describe a souped-up version on a 1980s dancercise class (sans leg warmers and those twisty headbands of course) or to give a coach his entry point into some bizarre sadistic, draconian adventure--both are way off the mark. The eight basic points that GPP has classically targeted revolve around the first three which are typical concerns for an athlete, and another five that uniquely work within the Renegade system. The final point is quite possibly the most important of all for team-wide concerns and from a coaching perspective cannot be overlooked.
1. increase work threshold, levels of fitness 2. assist in muscular recovery from arduous training 3. provide a unique variation to training that may have become monotonous or routine 4. enhance motor skills, general grafting of movement 5. provide a conduit to sport-specific movement patterns where appropriate or transitory effect during a training macro-cycle 6. development of sub-maximal explosive work and introduction into "complex" styles of training 7. prepare the psychological process of concentration with the "fog of war" 8. development of espri-de-corp and a relentless thirst for victory
From a compliance standpoint GPP is typically performed in both (a) weighted and (b) non-weighted variations. Most typically weighted and non-weighted programs will be designed such that overall time of training per section is equal but that is dictated by the athlete's goals, needs and passive activities. But be careful not to stray to merely what you prefer and, for example, focus on weighted work and let non-weighted slip by. Eliminate your weak spots and make them into strong suits. There is a virtually endless array of movements and each depends greatly upon the athlete's stage of development and should not be impeded by expensive or numerous pieces of exercise equipment. A key coaching point that needs to be highly stressed is that point (d) of the Renegade Training Concepts must always be maintained. The non-weighted variation of GPP (during first 26 weeks of training) typically involves "simple" bodyweight calisthenics further broken down into active recovery (i.e. jumping jacks, shuffle splits) along with semi-explosive work (i.e. burpees/squat thrusts and mountain climbers). Each section of "active recovery" and "semi-explosive" work consists of 2 consecutive sections of 30 seconds each and thus an entire "circuit" equals 2 minutes of consistent movement. For typical users of the Renegade system, without question, other areas of training such as hip mobility work and tumbling impact upon generalized development but are considered more static in work and less quantifiable. Foot contacts (sub-maximal) are generally in the 1:1 ratio in Active Recovery (30 movements per 30 seconds) with an acceptable range of .33-.5:1 (10-15 total movements per 30 seconds) and will exhibit a wave type pattern in both time duration and foot contacts. Total foot contacts will vary between 80-90 per 2 minute circuit with recovery based contacts representing 60-75% of that total. Sessions of this type of mixture should follow leg/hip dominant days. Additional days need to be implemented the day before or after these sessions which will substitute slightly less strenuous semi-explosive work such as (i) vertical hopping and (b) slalom side-to-side hops. Total work duration (in timed minutes) will be roughly 60% of more exhaustive daily preceding. Within the Renegade programs non-weighted GPP will start with 6 minutes of total work without rest in between sets in a highly periodized program that increases total duration over time. However, this amount will greatly depend upon the athlete's starting position and if need be adjusted to suit his long-terms goals. Recovery work must always be done in equal proportion to semi-explosive work from a timed capacity while always ensuring top quality form in all the movements. Never allow the athlete to do any of the work with poor form or bad postural alignment as it will carry over to daily habits. Distract (yes distract) the athlete from the work load during the active recovery section and integrate deep restorative breathing, slower elongated movements to bring down the pulse rate. Teach the athlete to relax during action and make the difficult easy. Consider this point intensely as it is an integral component in teaching the athlete to become conditioned to chaotic and rapidly changing environments. Pressure becomes something others have difficulty handling. Within weighted versions, there is even greater latitude in selection but far less complication in design. The major concern I have is that it equates equally to overall time duration as non-weighted work. Much of the choices for this work have been all but eliminated with the use of the form-fitted weight vest, aptly titled "Xvest". The Xvest has revolutionized weighted GPP work and is quite possibly the most important piece of fitness equipment to enter the market in the last twenty to thirty years. With the use of the Xvest you can eliminate the needs of cumbersome equipment, maintain correct posture (refer to concepts) and go for a hike or walk. One very pronounced benefit of this is not simply the transportability but the ability to walk on uneven surfaces which will have real-world carryover to a powerful, impenetrable core and strengthening ligament and tensile strength--not to mention the ability to adapt to striking a ball that's either above or below your feet. Weighted GPP will do wonders, if done properly, to create tremendous strength endurance and stabilization that pays rich dividends to performance on the course and in life. Clearly, the weakness of looking at this is from the standpoint of athletic-based training and how it works into the overall off-season training package. For the golfer who plays year-round, GPP is generally kept static to ensure that there is sufficient time to manicure playing abilities. Never is actual play deterred for training. However, for the majority of golfers who are unable to play year-round they will have the latitude to train with an eye towards "optimizing" for a period in the future. This is a particular troubling area for golfers for I do not believe for a second that you can walk away from your clubs for any length of time without significant negative impact. However, during the main periods that GPP is in use, relative volumes are significantly high with corresponding lower work intensity. This will give the periodization the visual impression like the classical Russian Matveyev model. The crescendo of work volume increases over the first 12 weeks of general preparatory training and quickly evaporates over the next 6 weeks, into week 18 of the 26 week off-season. Never forget that this is generalized work only and is part of a preparatory period and intense periods of specialization are necessary for maximization of athletic performance. As the snow melts and you're ready to bring the clubs out, the focus needs to be firmly upon sport-specific preparation (SPP) and at the time the athlete is considered both physically prepared for technical work and the psychological demands ensuing. During this period technical skills must be honed immensely, refined and become reliable but it is through the hard off-season of work, including rigorous GPP that this is possible. Please note that modestly intense GPP type movements can sometimes be used in SPP phases only to assist with muscular recovery or to alleviate tension but that is rarely done. In fact, a more advanced athlete's use of GPP will be significantly different than a less-developed athlete as much of their success is determined upon finite improvements of technical skill.
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