I’ve been using the MAPS Prime program from the guys over at Mind Pump for a little over three years now. Even when I’m not running a MAPS-based program, Prime is integrated into my practice.
MAPS Prime is a program that helps you self-assess movement and mobility issues that should be addressed when training. It then helps you, step by step, to develop a customized warm-up and recovery program that is specific to you and the type of training you are doing each day.
Why I bought MAPS Prime
I’ve been training off and on (honestly more off than on) for most of my life (I’m 50 as I write this). My biggest regret as I look back is my lack of consistency. Whether it was lack of motivation, injury, or that I just wasn’t getting any results in the gym, I always seemed to fade away from training for years at a time.
Over the last 4-5 years, a lot of that has changed. I’ve spent a ton of time developing consistency and discipline. I’ve also invested a lot of money to learn from experts who know a good deal more than I do. The last three years of my life have seen that effort culminate into a training regimen that not only has me in the best health I’ve ever been in but uninjured for two straight years.
For those who have never battled with injury, this may sound like a weird thing to be proud of. But as someone who makes Derek Rose look bulletproof, I can assure you that two years without an injury is a significant life achievement!
While there are a lot of reasons that I’ve finally started to make progress in the gym, there are a few core practices that I give the most credit to. One of those is appropriately priming myself before training. Another is adding mobility work to my training that was specific to me and specific to the movements I was training that day.
This is where MAPS Prime comes in.
I used to treat “warm-ups” as optional. If I did do them, they were always haphazard and unhelpful. Rolling around on the floor with a foam roller felt good, but it certainly didn’t do anything to prevent injury or make my training more effective. Breaking a sweat on the treadmill sounded like a good idea but never actually contributed anything to my workouts.
Honestly, most times, I was just in a hurry and skipped it altogether. By the looks of what everyone else in the gym was doing, I wasn’t alone.
So when I decided that in my late 40’s I actually wanted to be consistent, get results, and stay injury-free, I knew I needed to commit to a smartly programmed and proven effective warm-up and mobility program. Research led me to MAPS Prime and Prime Pro (for a comparison of these programs, see my article here). And I’m glad it did.
MAPS Prime Overview
First of all, the guys over at Mind Pump know how to produce and deliver a program. All of their programs are well laid out and easy to follow. They are detailed and based on many years of real-world experience. They not only know how to program, but they know how to relay that programming in a manner that the person being trained actually gets it.
So many programs out there are poorly formatted .pdfs and nothing else. If they do have video, it’s shot poorly, edited poorly, and often causes more questions than it answers. Not so with any of the MAPS programs, including Prime.
You access Prime in the same place you access all of the MAPS programs, and it’s structured in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step manner. There are videos explaining just about everything, as well as downloadable worksheets and guides.
Give yourself a day to get oriented
One heads-up I like to give on both Prime and Prime Pro is that you need to set aside a few hours to go through the program before beginning. There’s a lot there!
At first glance, it might even seem a bit overwhelming. I know it was for me. But if you start at the beginning, don’t skip around, and follow the well-written directions included in the program, it will make a lot of sense and be pretty easy to follow.
Once you’ve gotten familiar with the program, you start with the assessment and go from there.
Prime begins with an assessment. There are a series of pass-fail tests that shape the rest of the program. Your performance on these tests determines precisely what you will be doing as part of the Prime program.
These assessments are deceptively simple to do and will give you an honest look at your own mobility as well as highlight any movement issues you might have. Give them your full attention and be honest with yourself!!! Don’t shortcut this step as the entire program rests on a good assessment to work from.
This section is where you take your assessment results, pair that with the type of movements you are training that day, and craft a custom-designed pre-workout priming session.
These pre-priming sessions are much more than a “warm-up.” They are geared to stimulate your CNS, prime your muscles for movement, and set you up for success on your big lifts of the day.
I’ve tested training with and without these sessions, and they make a huge difference. I can almost always lift more and better maintain stability through the entire range of the lift when I do these sessions.
The average time to complete these is 10-15 minutes.
So what happens when you fail the assessments? Does that mean you can’t train? Nope! I failed every single one my first time through them.
All failing means is that you now know where you should focus your efforts. It not only helps you pick out what should be in your pre-primer sessions, but it also shapes what are called “fortification sessions.”
These fortification sessions are a critical part of the program. These are sessions that you do often (I did them as often as three times per day, 6-7 days a week in the 6 months before I started MAPS Prime Pro). They specifically address your mobility issues and help you improve the things that caused you to fail those tests in the first place.
One note here is that work on your part is needed for these to be effective. My first six months or so with the program saw me doing these half-heartedly only once in a while. Doing that, I made no improvements. But when I committed to doing them regularly, I made surprisingly quick progress. I ended up being able to pass all of the assessments in a relatively short amount of time.
Once you can pass all of the assessments, you get to add some prime ignition movements into your daily training. These are dynamic movements meant to help you get the most out of your big lifts that day.
These ignition movements do a great job of priming your CNS and truly get you ready for your major lifts of that day. I’ve learned the hard way not to skip these now. My form and top-end strength are all better when the ignition movements are used.
Foam rolling & static stretches
Rounding out the program are recommended foam rolling and static stretching techniques. Yet another area tailored and tied to your assessment results; these are handy guides to the most effective methods you can use for your specific needs.
Both foam rolling and stretching are misused so often, it’s refreshing to have a simple, easy-to-follow guide for both of them. I wouldn’t say these are the main reason to get this program, but they are certainly a nice addition.
Is MAPS Prime worth the money?
Good programming isn’t cheap, and the MAPS programs are no exception. When I first looked into both the Prime and Prime Pro programs, I was hesitant. Especially about MAPS Prime.
My first thoughts were, “Why would I pay that much for a warm-up and cool-down routine?” and “I’m pretty sure I can find this stuff on YouTube for free.”
I was wrong on both counts. The beauty of MAPS Prime is that it integrates with whatever programming you are already doing. It makes that programming better and improves your results.
While there are no “new” movements or tricks or magic secret sauce in this program, it’s the way it’s put together as a cohesive system that makes it worth the purchase. It’s almost like hiring a personal trainer.
That’s exactly how I look at the price. While the results I’ve gotten alone are well worth the investment, the cost to hire a trainer for just one session to evaluate and create a custom program for you would be several times the price of this program.
Not to mention that all of the MAPS programs, including this one, come with a 30-day no-questions-asked return policy. I can vouch for this one from experience. I’ve actually returned one of their programs (MAPS Performance, it just didn’t fit what I needed at the time), and they did exactly as promised. No questions, no push-back, just a full refund.
You can’t ask for much better than that!