Practicality comes from science, and science involves total integration of knowledge. Failing to integrate is failing to be scientific.
In “Beyond GPP: The New Model of Performance Training,” Danny Clark writes:
GPP, general physical preparedness, should always come before SPP, specific physical preparedness,” [Pavel Tsatsouline] explained with a thick Russian accent. He labeled strength the “master quality,” and his training protocols clearly nurtured the development of this quality.
Concurrently, Greg Glassman was popularizing his famous definition of GPP, with a broader scope to include “work capacity across broad time and modal domains.”
Both Tsatsouline’s and Glassman’s approaches were correct in their own way. But now, decades later, it’s time we as coaches re-evaluate the current performance model, as emerging evidence points to its lack of completeness.
In the early 1950s, a French developmental psychologist named Jean Piaget published his work on the link between movement, external environmental challenges, and cognitive ability in children. His work was inspired by watching his own kids interact with natural environments, which he contrasted with the sterilized laboratory settings found in most research studies.
Piaget discovered that sensory-rich environments stimulate the brain’s ability to perceive and produce adaptive movements. This neurological problem-solving process is called perceptual motor behavior, and it is essential to a child’s overall ability to learn and develop properly. His work would become a powerful theory of cognitive development, which acknowledges the extensive neural interconnectedness of the brain. Piaget is still referenced extensively in modern child development research and occupational therapy.
The driving force of perceptual motor development (PMD) is motor learning in response to environmental demands, which is a step beyond learning new movement patterns in isolation. For example, balancing on a new surface requires far more sensory integration and adaptive movement, and thus perceptual motor skill, than deadlifting a heavier load. Complex, highly practical, functional movement drills, such as crawling, become perceptual motor drills when unfamiliar obstacles or other environmental complexities are gradually introduced. Any external challenges that demand complex, adaptive movement patterns stimulate the brain to refine and build its neural pathways, increasing its ability to adapt via this neuroplasticity.
In the same way that general work capacity (GPP) increases the capacity and robustness of the body, general perceptual motor development (G-PMD) can be seen as increasing the overall capability and robustness of the brain.
To learn how to best exercise ourselves — we who are rational animals — we must fully investigate our nature. People like Ido Portal, Erwan LeCorre, and Katy Bowman — and others!! — do so.
We must integrate physics, chemistry, biology, sports training, physiology, anatomy, diet, sleep science, brain science, neurology, philosophy, and more.