GPP For the Bulk Season

By the end of the summer we wait for this time of year when we can trade our bathing suits for hoodies and the grilled chicken salads for steak and potatoes. It's bulk season, right? And this year you're serious! With every bite, your one forkful closer to the beastly physique you've been striving for every season. Just think, that bacon cheese burger is building your cobra-like lats and that cheese cake at the Christmas party? Massive forearms and brute grip strength will be yours! While pint after pint of holiday cheer pushes those abs out in massive, distended glory!

Or could this be one of those rare incidences where quality does trump quantity? Considering that you can only naturally put on up to 0.5 pounds of muscle a week and around 10-15 pounds a year, is it completely necessary to pack on massive amounts of weight in the "off season?" It might be tough to swallow but some of that extra poundage is a bit more quantity than quality. Even when gaining size and strength, the male body especially isn't required to go above 12% body fat to do so. Wanting to put on muscle is no excuse to get fat. This might be very disappointing for some but consider this: The more extra body fat you put on, the sooner you'll have to start dieting in spring and the tighter your nutrition will have to be. That's right, forget the cheat meals. But there's good news. I'm not trying to tell you what not to eat. Hell, it's the holidays. But let's look at this from a different perspective. What I can help you with is turning your body into even more of a food burning machine. Not only will this compliment your caloric influx but give you an opportunity to condition weak areas and boost your recovery time. So if you find yourself knee deep in eggnog with a mouth full of sugar cookies, read on.


As a female power lifter competing in the 123 weight class, I work to stay as lean as I can while consistently increasing my lifts. I need to make the most of every pound of body weight in order to be successful in each meet. I have 4 world records and 2 American records to defend. Needless to say, I take my condition very seriously. It can also be a challenge to keep the holiday pounds off to save me the trouble of dieting later to make weight. Even though you might be looking to pack on some size, our goals are not so different. The beauty to GPP intervals is that there is no end to possibilities no matter what your specific goal may be. They are ever adjustable. As Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell writes, they can even be used to specifically condition your weaker areas while increasing your overall work capacity.

No matter the season, pre or post contest of any sort, you need to keep your body conditioned. GPP is necessary in all stages of the game. We use the term GPP (general physical preparedness) to describe the process of increasing the body's work capacity. We also use it to avoid dirty words like "cardio" or "calorie burning." There are infinite possibilities and combinations. For our holiday purposes, the idea is to combine any conditioning movements in an interval style. The term interval refers to short intense bursts of exertion followed by a brief recovery period. This training pattern will push you mentally and physically to new limits. The interval style allows your body work intensely and get much more work done in a shorter period of time. Training this intensely has proven time and again to keep the heart rate elevated long after the training session is over. Even up to 24 hours! So while you're sleeping and eating, your body is still struggling to recover. For you, that's a great thing. The longer and harder your body has to try to recover from intense exertion, the higher your heart rate stays. The end result is burning more calories per hour on the couch. Meanwhile, you're spared the boredom and tediousness of steady state cardio (generally reserved for very low carb diet phases anyway). Your glucose stores are plenty full so tap into them and get bigger, stronger, faster and stay leaner.

These GPP/Interval style sessions should be put at the end of your workout and never before. If your regular work out takes longer than 45-60 minutes it would be best to save this workout for later or even 24 hours after a major workout to boost recovery. This is truly multitasking at its best. But keep in mind, after 45-60 minutes your testosterone level falls off a bit and you just won't have the tenacity you need to reap the full benefits of this bonus work out. The GPP interval sessions can range anywhere from a "no excuse 5 minute quickie" or a 30 minute slaughter. But no longer! Remember, intensity is the key to keeping the heart rate elevated longer and increasing your overall condition.

Here are some general conditioning examples but don't be afraid to get creative. I encourage you to mix some of your own exercises with conditioning movements to work on your specific trouble areas that could use some catching up.
General Conditioning Examples

1. 5 minute kettle bell tabata: 5 minutes of heavy swings using a 20 seconds on and 10 seconds rest pattern. Feeling brave? Try it with KB or DB snatches.
2. 15 - 30 minutes treadmill/jump rope intervals: walk one minute very steep uphill at a steady pace followed by one minute of quick jumproping.
3. 5 - 10 minute Thruster/Burpee combo: 20 seconds of thrusters, 20 seconds full burpees (complete with push up and triple extension) followed by 20 seconds rest

Upper Body Assistance Example

1. DB power cleans 15 - 20 reps, Alternating Renegade Rows for 20, plyo push up for 10, 30 seconds rest.

Lower Body Assistance Example

1. Sled dragging 5 minutes, 30 KB swings, 25 situps.

Work on flexibility even! Tight Hips?

1. 24 total alternating reverse lunges from a platform, 15 bridges, 30 second plank

GPP For the Bulk Season

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