General and specific physical preparation (complete guide)

In any sport, good physical preparation is essential. However, each discipline requires different skills.

In general, athletes who follow a structured and planned training program incorporate exercises and training that develop their general and specific physical abilities to prepare them for competition.

When the weather is bad and there are no matches in sight, a football player, rugby player, tennis player, rider or surfer (or any other sport) have one thing in common. They can always do weight training sessions to be ready to resume training.

Their conditioning can be general or specific. These two elements are essential in the performance objective. That is what this article will explain to you as clearly as possible.

General physical preparation (GPP)

GPP aims to elevate all the different components of fitness at once, i.e. strength, endurance, coordination, agility, speed, flexibility, etc. The objectives pursued can be very different depending on the person.

For example, you can look for:

  • Lose weight (fat) and improve body composition;
  • Increase your strength and gain muscle mass;
  • Correct your posture;
  • Increase joint mobility and muscle flexibility;
  • Improve your cardiovascular health;
  • Work on balance, agility, coordination, speed, quality of movement;
  • Or simply improve his physical appearance.

The PPG lays the foundations that allow amateur sportspeople and athletes to take on many challenges. It also helps to erase weaknesses and physical imbalances. And that should make up the bulk of your workout. This is especially important if you are beginners or enthusiastic hobbyists.

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Differences by sport

That being said, not all sports need the same level of PPG. Try to compare golf and rugby for example, and you will understand. And others don't even need any specific preparation.

The competitions of CrossFit, of Strongman (strong men) and Power lifting are 3 perfect examples. Indeed, CrossFit requires more endurance while Strongman events require more strength. The exercises are completely random and some events may even be completely new to the athletes. Also, these sports do not require specific preparation for a particular movement. But they require a crazy PPG!

In Power lifting, what is required of the athlete is much more specific: Squat, bench press and deadlift for a single repetition at its maximum. In this case, specific work is necessary.

As a general rule, it is when an athlete has laid the foundation of the PPG that he can begin to specialize.

Fitness programs

Before you continue reading, here is a list of all the blog posts on physical preparation:

Adjustable dumbbells 24kg

Specific physical preparation (PPS)

Volleyball physical preparation
A volleyball player must work on his relaxation

You may be wondering what it is or what it is for.

We can speak of PPS when an athlete undergoes specialized training for a sport. This is the case of a tennis player who tirelessly repeats forehand strikes only to improve his stroke. No other form of exercise or training other than playing and practicing tennis-specific movements.

PPS can be described as an athlete's ability to perform a specific movement or series of movements. This special training can therefore include workout exercises that improve the muscular capacity, endurance or speed specific to these movements.

The risks of premature specific physical preparation

However, this type of training should not occur too soon. Indeed, if premature overspecialization allows a rapid improvement in performance, it is often followed by stagnation. In the book Easy Strength, specialists Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline explain that PPS without prior PPG is usually accompanied by injuries and an inevitable stagnation in sports results.

By focusing only on one sport, you will miss development in other areas and will not be a balanced athlete. Not only will you have weaknesses, but you will undoubtedly be prone to injury. Your joints and muscles will be underprepared, weak and overused.

You have to find the balance in your training

I don't know if you follow tennis, but if you do you probably remember that a lot of players in the past had one arm much bigger than the other. However, this is no longer the case today. Athletes have understood that PPG is essential to a successful career. Except apparently Nick Kyrgios, which seems to explain his posture problem and the incredible number of injuries he suffers from.

An athlete can have high levels of PPG while having low levels of PPS, and vice versa.

For example, a CrossFit specialist with excellent general physical preparation may have difficulty during an event. This may be due to poor technique and poor execution because he has no PPS for this exercise. The muscles required during this event may be weaker or simply not used to or comfortable with the movement.

On the other hand, an athlete may have excellent PPS and lack PPG. In basketball, for example, you might have a great 3-point shooter who is a tench in the other game compartments.

Now that you understand the concept of different physical preparations, you will learn how to improve yourself to become a more balanced athlete.

Improve your general physical preparation

general physical preparation for women
Dumbbell chest press

Here are 3 rules to follow for your training, whether at home or in the gym:

  1. Think carefully about your sport. What movements are you likely to do most often? What are the most stressed muscles? Choose the exercises that will help you in your sport and integrate them into your sessions. Don't ignore the other muscles though. Work your whole body so you don't have a weak point. If the cardiovascular capacities are important, do dynamic sessions such as HIIT Tabata or Insanity.
  2. If you start or resume sport, work all muscle groups. Don't leave anything out. Build a solid muscle base before looking to specialize.
  3. Develop your general strength. Strength builds endurance by making everything you do easier and lighter. You can't be tough if your muscles are sluggish.
Muscle gain with elastics

Examples of PPG weight training sessions

PPG can take many forms. Minimal equipment is required and often body weight is sufficient. If your sport is very demanding, you may need additional resistance. This can go through weights and dumbbells or elastic bands .

If you play soccer, sessions can be done on days when you don't have a match. They can also be added at the end of a practice match. Just look at Cristiano Ronaldo's fitness sessions to understand. If you do bodybuilding, it's easier since your physical preparation is also your sport 😉

In the next part, I give you PPG examples which are effective for footballers or tennis players. These exercises will develop your strength and explosiveness. The times recommended below are not set in stone. So do not hesitate to carry out more or less long sessions.

If you do a PPG session at the end of your workout, only spend 10-15 minutes.

Preparation in the field

NOTE : All the exercises presented here can be consulted in the Bodybuilding exercises section.

Use a timer and program it to ring every 20 to 30 seconds. Between each exercise in the series, you will run at a leisurely pace to recover. You will repeat the series until you have finished 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Push-ups
  • Squats
  • mountain climbers
  • Walked lunges

Don't forget to do a cushy jog between each exercise. Normally you will have done 2-3 full rounds by the end of the session.

Preparation at home

You will need a pull-up bar or Roman chair and some space in your home. Breathe 15 to 30 seconds between each exercise.

  • 5 pull-ups (if it's too difficult, help yourself with an elastic band or by putting your feet on a chair)
  • 20 bodyweight squats
  • 15 push-ups
  • 10 side lunges per side
  • 10 burpees
  • bear walk, 15 steps forward and back

Repeat until you have reached 30 minutes (or less if you died before).

Ken Coaching muscle gain

Improve your specific physical preparation

In some sports activities, it is essential to work on certain gestures in order to progress. We can think of hitting the ball in forehand or backhand in tennis, throwing the ball in baseball or free kick in football. The examples are legion since each discipline has its particularities.

Once you have a good degree of PPG, you will need to upgrade to PPS to become good at your sport. However, not all disciplines have not the same degree of requirement in this domain.

Here are some helpful tips:

Specific physical preparation for running

Here are some important points to remember and apply:

  1. Learn good form and technique for the movements required by your sport. If you run, learn the biomechanics of running for your posture, arm movement, stride, etc. For a power lifter, your lifting techniques must be perfect. If you're a rugby player, learn the proper way to throw and receive a ball. Does that make sense to you?
  2. Once you have learned the correct form of a movement, work it again and again. Perform it 2 times a day at low intensity (morning and evening) to develop your muscle memory. Once you get to a point where you don't even have to think about movement and it feels natural, you've progressed.
  3. When you do cardio, do it for your sport ! For example, a soccer player can line up sprints of 5 to 10 seconds with 10 to 30 seconds of rest. When you're conditioning or training, try to keep pace with your matches or competitions so your body gets used to those bursts of energy and recovery phases.

Of course, each sport is too different for me to cover them all here. However, you will find programs for different sports on this site. I will try to add more in the future.


Do not forget that this work is essential for any sport. Proceed in this order:

  1. To begin, identify the areas in which you are weakest;
  2. Next, look for the main exercises to correct your weaknesses;
  3. Finally, train like a beast and track your progress.

PPG and PPS are not new as athletes have been doing it for decades. What you should take away from this article is the idea that your physical preparation is strongly linked to your health. Sit less often and move more. Even if you don't do a particular sport, strength training will change your quality of life.

I take this opportunity to say a word about your diet once again: Eat real food.

If your grandparents don't recognize what you eat, don't eat it! Follow a regular, smart, structured and effective exercise program. You will find several on this blog that you can make your own.

Make it a priority, you'll thank me later 😉

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