This is my review of MAPS Performance, a training program by the guys over at Mind Pump.
I’ve been training at home and in commercial gyms for almost 20 years. If there’s a program out there, I’ve probably tried it at least once. I’ve used MAPS Performance from start to finish several times. It’s in my yearly training plan in full once per year, and I integrate parts of it into the rest of my training throughout the year.
MAPS Performance is a program that will benefit anyone who trains with weights regularly. While it’s not the best program for beginners, it’s one that any intermediate or advanced lifter will appreciate and benefit from.
It’s also an essential program for anyone training for health, longevity, injury prevention, or sports performance. For those looking purely for strength and size gains, MAPS Performance will allow you to hit those goals much more quickly if you use it to periodically break up your usual strength and hypertrophy training.
This review will walk you through who this program is and isn’t for. I’ll outline the pros and cons, tell you what it costs, and what kind of equipment you’ll need. I’ll even provide my top tips for success based on my own success with this program.
Let’s get started!
What is MAPS Performance?
MAPS Performance addresses strength, mobility, stability, and injury prevention. It does this using 4 phases of programming that focus on building strength outside the sagittal plane (front to back) and emphasizing stability that directly correlates to how we move in real life.
Make no mistake. MAPS Performance is a resistance training program. Don’t confuse it with mobility programs like MAPS Prime or Prime Pro. You will gain muscle, strength, and aesthetics, and you’ll do it in a different way than 95% of the other programs out there.
MAPS Performance is a must-have program for anyone concerned with training over the long term. It’s one of those tools that you don’t know you need until you have it. But once you’ve completed it the first time, you’ll wonder why no one else is addressing strength training in this way.
In the 12 weeks it will take to complete MAPS Performance, you’ll work muscles you didn’t even know you had and do it in a way that’s fun and challenging. It will produce results of its own that are different from most other strength training programs, and it will also improve the results of whatever program you decide to run after it.
The program consists of three core strength days and up to 4 “mobility session” days. If you follow the program exactly, you’ll be training seven days a week, but you can scale it back if seven days is too much.
The three foundational days will take most people 60-90 minutes, depending on warmup and cool-down time. The mobility sessions take 15-30 minutes each.
What’s included in MAPS Performance?
- Easy to use online portal
- Lifetime access
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Over 100 instructional videos (including separate exercise demos for men and women)
- Detailed blueprint and training calendar
- General guidelines and FAQ to maximize your results
- Four individual phases totaling 12 weeks of programming
- Foundational 3 days per week strength training
- Mobility session programming for up to 4 “off” days
- Basic tracking sheets/workout logs
- Complete at-home modification for those who only have a bench and dumbbells.
- Detailed Instruction
- Mods for home gyms that only have a bench and dumbbells
- Forum available for questions & form feedback (additional cost)
- Enhances results from other programs
- Videos for men and women
- Well designed and produces consistent results
- Mobility sessions
- Builds muscle
- Increases athleticism
- Trains lateral and rotational strength
- Grows work capacity and endurance
- Improves strength throughout many ranges of motion
- Strengthens joints and connective tissue
- Can reduce the nagging pains many people feel after doing too much traditional strength training
- You can use parts of it throughout the year as needed
- Videos have cheesy music instead of voice coaching
- Tracking sheets/workout logs are minimal and could be much better
- Set and rep schemes are confusing for some movements
- Work capacity jump from phase 1 to 2 can be discouraging
- It only includes three regression exercises when there should be many more
- Warmup and priming exercises are not included.
- MAPS Prime is sold separately instead of being integrated into the training. For me, this is a big miss.
- While the program can be done in as little as three days per week, full results require a 7-day commitment
What results can you expect from MAPS Performance?
Most resistance training programs work in the sagittal plane (front to back) and focus on bilateral (both arms or legs) movements. In other words, almost all resistance training you’ve ever done consists of movements like squatting, deadlifting, or barbell pressing.
Traditional programs rarely, if ever, mimic real-life movement where you find yourself moving side to side, rotating, and using your arms and legs independently of each other.
While those programs can be very effective at building size and strength, they can leave you sore, achy, and overtrained very quickly.
MAPS Performance is designed to break up that training monotony and address the fundamental aspects of healthy movement.
The first time I ran MAPS Performance, I was very skeptical (in fact, I returned it for a refund the first time I tried it). The training is so different from what I’d done for years that I doubted I’d get any results at all.
Once I returned to it again, the first couple of times I started the program, I stopped after a few weeks in fear that I would lose some of my gains from previous programs.
But I trust the guys over at Mind Pump and eventually committed to completing MAPS Performance. Wow, am I glad I did! Below is a list of the results I’ve gained from this program. But to me, one result stands out above all others:
This is the only program I’ve ever done where my girlfriend actually commented on the changes she saw in my body!
I’ve been training for a long time. I’ve gained muscle. I’ve lost body fat. I’ve focused on lagging body parts. And I’ve always seen the differences in the mirror. But this was the first time she ever made a point to take notice and say something.
Was I bigger? I don’t think so. Did I lose fat during the program? Maybe a little, but no more than I have at other times. The difference was in my overall shape and how I moved. When I pressed her, she described it as looking more athletic. Like I was healthier, more capable, and in better overall shape.
Here is a quick list of the other results I get every time I go through MAPS Performance.
- Joint pain diminishes or goes away completely
- Balance improves
- Core strength and stability improves
- Range of motion in every plane improves significantly
- Improved strength through those ranges of motion
- Improved strength in core lifts
- Greatly improved feeling of stability
- Massive increase in work capacity and endurance
What equipment do you need for MAPS Performance?
MAPS Performance comes complete with two separate programs, one for a fully equipped gym and one for a home gym. The home gym track only requires a bench and dumbbells. The full gym program requires a barbell, plates, rack, landmine attachment, dumbbells, and bench.
For both, you’ll also need a mobility stick. Included in the program is a video showing how to make your own. It was straightforward and the parts needed didn’t cost much at my local Home Depot.
I have every piece of gear needed in my home gym to run either version, but I prefer a combination of the two. It’s nice to have both available, and this is one feature that sets this program above most others when it comes to folks training at home in their garage or basement!
Who Should Use MAPS Performance?
If you’ve been using traditional resistance training for six months or more, it’s time to complete a cycle of MAPS Performance. I truly believe that it’s a program that ALL lifters should complete at least once a year.
I also think MAPS Performance is ideal for the following people:
- Athletes at the end of their offseason preparing to return to their primary sport
- Anyone with nagging joint pain (the usual caveat of checking with your doctor anytime pain is involved is appropriate here)
- Anyone who has solely focused on gaining size and strength without regard to mobility, lateral movement, or rotational strength
- Anyone who has become bored with their usual training and is looking for something different and effective
- Golfers, disc golfers, boxers, tennis players, baseball players, and anyone else who spends time in a sport or activity that relies on rotational strength and explosiveness
Who Shouldn’t Use MAPS Performance?
MAPS Performance is not for people new to strength training. If this is you, start with a program like MAPS Anabolic instead. You will absolutely need a training base to do well with MAPS Performance.
I also wouldn’t recommend MAPS Performance to those recovering from injuries. While it will help alleviate those nagging joint pains that tend to crop up from lifting too heavy for too long, I wouldn’t use it to recover from injury.
Lastly, I wouldn’t recommend MAPS Performance to those with significant mobility issues. If you can’t squat, hinge, or lunge with just your body weight, MAPS Performance is not for you.
Instead, start with a program like MAPS Prime Pro. Get those mobility issues addressed (at least a little bit) before stressing your range of motion with weights. Then move to MAPS Anabolic. Then hit MAPS Performance. (Or check out this complete programming package that includes all of that and much more!)
How Much Does MAPS Performance Cost?
At the time I’m writing this review, it’s listed for a one-time payment of $147. That said, there are ways to save money.
The best way to save is to take advantage of their bundle offers.
If you know that resistance training is a regular part of your life, I’d highly recommend going for their Super Bundle.
That bundle is one year of programming consisting of several of their programs packaged together. It’s a great value, and you can run it year after year after year. You save a ton when purchased this way vs. buying the programs individually!
The other benefit of going with that bundle (see my full review here) is that the MAPS programs are designed to be run in a particular order. Starting with MAPS Anabolic will build the necessary strength base and begin developing your work capacity.
This puts you in the perfect position to run through MAPS Performance. And once you are done with Performance, you are absolutely set to make incredible gains in MAPS Aesthetic. I’ve run all three programs out of order, but nothing compares to the results you’ll get running them in their intended sequence!
If you aren’t looking for a bundle option, the second way to save is to listen to their podcast for sale announcements. Not only is their podcast a great listen, but they regularly run sales on their programs of up to 50% off and sometimes more.
How to get the most out of MAPS Performance
I’ve run this program just about every way you can. I’ve done it by the book, and I’ve altered it. I’ve added, subtracted, and substituted movements. Based on that, here are my top tips on getting the best possible results from MAPS Performance.
- Don’t skip straight to the program blueprint. Take some time to go through the introductory material and videos. There is a ton of great info there that will help you understand the program and how it’s designed.
- Get and use MAPS Prime or another well designed warm up/priming system. Do not jump into these training sessions cold. You’ll prevent injury and get a lot more out of the program if you properly prime first.
- Stick to the program exactly as written. MAPS Performance is so different that you may be tempted to change or add things. Don’t!!!
- Pay attention to the prescribed tempo and rest periods. They are a vital part of the results.
- Do not try to PR or go as heavy as you can!!! That’s not what this program is about. Going too heavy will prevent you from getting the benefits this program offers. I know this is a challenging mental hurdle for some, but trust me, it’s a necessary one!
- Form > weight. Again, it’s not about getting a maximum amount of weight on the bar. It’s about lifting the most weight you can without breaking perfect form and maintaining the prescribed tempo.
- Take time to reset between each rep when doing explosive movements. Don’t just power through the reps. Take your time!
- A big part of the magic of this program are the mobility sessions. If you can, make time for all 4 each week. They make a huge difference!
- Phase 2 in brutal! Stick to the rest periods even though it will be very challenging. You will be surprised how quickly you adapt, but those first 1-2 weeks will be tough. Don’t quit!
- Remember form on the high rep movements. There are some that call for as many as 20 reps and it’s easy to get lazy. DO NOT sacrifice your form or bracing to “get through” the reps.
- Instead of looking for strength gains, keep an eye out for improvements in work capacity (endurance), mobility, range of motion, strength at end range, and coordination. This is where the benefits of this program will show themselves. Your strength gains will be apparent when you complete MAPS Performance and start another strength based program after it.
Alternatives to MAPS Performance
While I don’t think there are any direct alternatives to MAPS Performance (it is truly unique in the field of strength programming), there are a couple of other MAPS programs you would probably like if you enjoy MAPS Performance.
The first is MAPS Strong. If you like the work capacity, novelty, and strength gains that MAPS Performance offers, you’ll probably love MAPS Strong too. Designed alongside professional strongman Robert Oberst, MAPS Strong is an enjoyable program that will have you stronger than ever, and looking forward to each and every day in the gym!
The second is MAPS OCR. Developed with pro obstacle course racer Amelia Boone, MAPS OCR is designed for those that compete in obstacle course racing. MAPS OCR is another program that focuses on elements not traditionally addressed in your standard strength training programs.
I’ll be brutally honest. I did not like MAPS Performance at first. The first time I bought it, I returned it (the Mind Pump 30 day no-questions-asked return policy is legit!).
My strength and mobility were not good enough, and my complete lack of work capacity at that time made the program too challenging for me.
But as I mentioned above, I trust the guys over at Mind Pump, and they speak from many years of experience. So, after running MAPS Anabolic twice in a row and spending almost a year running through MAPS Prime Pro, I repurchased MAPS Performance.
Wow, what a difference!
While I’ve listed many reasons I like this program, every time I decide to go through it again, one thing sticks out in my mind above all others, and it’s what my girlfriend said to me after I completed it the first time:
“I don’t know what you’re doing different out there in the garage [gym], but you look good!”
She’d never said anything like that before, and it was totally unexpected. Combine that compliment with all the other benefits, and that makes MAPS Performance a must-have!
MAPS Performance FAQ
What does MAPS stand for?
Muscular Adaptation Programming System. In other words, your muscles (and you) are adaptation machines. Knowing how to manipulate and promote that adaptation is the key to great programming.
Can I do MAPS Performance in a home or garage gym?
Yes! You can use the MAPS Performance programming at home with as little as a bench and a set of dumbbells. You do not need a full gym to use this program (although you can, it is written for both types of setups!)
What is a mobility session, and do I need to do them?
Mobility sessions are 15-30 minute short workouts designed to be done on your “off” days. I would highly recommend doing at least two of them per week. If you have time for all four, that’s even better! The mobility sessions significantly enhance your results from the other three primary strength days.
How long does each session in MAPS Performance take?
If you stick to the prescribed rest periods, you can complete each foundational day in 60-75 minutes. The mobility sessions take 15-30 minutes each.
Can I run MAPS Performance repeatedly as my only program?
Of all of the MAPS programs, MAPS Performance is the only one I would do this with. While it’s not optimal, it won’t cause the problems that running a traditional plan repeatedly will. That said, I’d still recommend using their super bundle and rotating the three programs in that bundle repeatedly instead.
Is MAPS Performance suitable for beginners?
No. I highly recommend starting with a basic strength-building program first.
My Results With MAPS Performance, an In Depth Review
MAPS Performance is a unique program that not only addresses areas commonly missed by other strength training programs (lateral movement, rotational strength, and athleticism to name a few). It's also highly effective at enhancing the results you get from other programs you may run after it.
Course Provider: Organization
Course Provider Name: Mind Pump Media
Course Provider URL: https://www.mindpumpmedia.com/