In this MAPS Performance Review, we will be taking a close look at the athlete-targeted program developed by the minds over at Mind Pump Media.
The problem with the majority of online workout programs is that tend to be repetitive, cookie-cutter, and not much better if at all than the free programs you can find online. The issues only worsen once you start getting into the “athlete” or “performance” programs, with most throwing in a few box jumps and calling it a day.
In our experience with MAPS Performance, we found it to be a breath of fresh air. The program properly developed strength while also working on improving pure athletic performance with a variety of specific movements. The workouts were very unique and left us very impressed with the program structure as well as our own results.
MAPS Performance is an excellent program for anyone looking to improve their athletic performance, better their health, or just break up their usual weightlifting routine with something more exciting.
In this review, we will break down all of the pros, cons, and included features before deciding whether or not the program is worth it.
- MAPS Performance Review: A Quick Overview
- Using MAPS Performance: Our Experience
- What Equipment Is Required For MAPS Performance?
- MAPS Performance vs MAPS Anabolic
- What I Like About MAPS Performance
- What I Did Not Like About MAPS Performance
- Tips For Getting The Most Out Of MAPS Performance
- Final Verdict
MAPS Performance Review: A Quick Overview
MAPS Performance is the MAPS program designed by the Mind Pump to improve overall athletic performance as well as strength. For those who are not aware, the Mind Pump team is made up of former gym owners, personal trainers, bodybuilders, and athletes that have consistently produced some of the more quality fitness content on the internet.
The program itself is designed for 3 lifting sessions per week with some supplemental athletic and mobility work on the off days. To keep things fresh, the 12-week program is broken up into 4 cycles that each have a specific goal in mind.
What’s Included In MAPS Performance
- Online Portal: Easy-to-use online portal where you can access videos, workouts, and guides
- Lifetime Access: With lifetime access, you can make use of any future updates or added guides
- Instructional Videos: There are over 100 videos with useful information. There are also separate exercise guides for men and women.
- Training Logs: Training logs for the program ready to be used
- Support: Plenty of support within the program with FAQs and general guidelines
- Phases: The program is broken up into 4 phases that each last 3 weeks
- Strength Training: Foundational strength training with 3 guided lifting sessions per week
- Mobility Training: Mobility sessions for off days
- Blueprint: Calendar and blueprint so you can plan your program completion and see how you will progress
- Home Gym Mods; Each exercise with the program comes with an acceptable list of home gym substitutions with more basic equipment
- Regression Exercises: Easier versions of exercise for beginners that allow you still progress even if you cannot perform that exact movement
- Lots of very informational video guides
- A well-balanced program that targets all aspects of fitness
- Can set up for success with programs that require higher work capacity
- Will improve athletic performance
- Three lifting sessions per week build a good level of base strength
- Mobility work will improve form and prevent injury
- Trains through all ranges of motions
- Forums and online community is very helpful and supportive
- Training logs are very minimal
- The programming structure is more complex and can be confusing for a beginner
- Each phase requires a large jump in work capacity, not very gradual
- Does not include MAPS Prime
- Can be a large time commitment with some to do every day
- Needs more regression exercises
- Those looking for a program that targets all aspects of fitness
- Athletes looking to improve their performance
- People looking for a fresh, unique program that is still effective
- Strength athletes looking to improve mobility for injury prevention
Not Recommended For:
- People looking for a program with the minimal time commitment
- Absolute beginners
- Those that have extreme levels of limited mobility
Using MAPS Performance: Our Experience
I as well as several other members of the FitDominium team, have run MAPS Performance and seen great results. Here is my experience with the program from start to finish:
Getting Started: MAPS Online Portal
This is the same online portal that Mind Pump uses for the rest of its programs as well. The portal itself is very easy to use and has a great user interface. Once you gain access, it is through the portal that you will access all of the videos, logs, calendars, and other guides.
What I did, and what I recommend most people do, is really look through everything when you first log on. I found their general information, guides, and videos to be very useful. Even if you think you already know how to do some of the exercises, I would still recommend watching the videos. The Mind Pump guys really know what they are talking about when it comes to training, so it is worth taking the extra time.
If you, like me, have been seriously lacking in your mobility work, the videos on how to do stretches and mobility exercises will be the most useful. For the first few days, I had their guides playing on my phone during my mobility sessions so I could make sure I was doing them right.
Once you get into the groove of things, you may not log back into the online portal as often. However, it is still good to have in case you have any questions or just want to look back at some of the videos.
Running The Program
As we already mentioned, MAPS Performance is broken up into a series of phases. Each phase has a clear goal and aspect of your strength or performance that it is trying to improve. Here is what you can expect in each phase:
- Phase I: The first phase is all about building the raw strength that you will need in the phases to come. This is the phase that will most mimic what you will usually see in a traditional strength training program. Expect to do heavy sets on compound exercises and for your strength to increase dramatically.
- Phase II: The goal of the second phase is to build strength in all directions. Expect to do higher volume work and lots of rotational exercises.
- Phase III: For the third phase, the main focus is to build your explosiveness and power. This phase will also be higher volume but the exercise will focus more on explosive movements.
- Phase IV: The final phase is designed to increase your work capacity. These workouts will be more circuit-based and improve your conditioning and endurance.
With the program, you get four unique mobility sessions that you are supposed to run on your off days. These do not change with the phases, you will be doing the same four sessions for the full 12 weeks. These can last anywhere from 20-45 minutes and are meant more to be active recovery sessions that do not really tax your body.
As someone who does not have the best mobility, the sessions were somewhat challenging. But they are a lot more interesting than the usual online mobility sessions. I thought that it would be hard to stick to doing these on my off days, but I actually did every single one.
I think that because these sessions were so fast-paced and because I saw noticeable improvements in my ability, the sessions were not such a drag as most mobility workouts are.
Results will vary from person to person depending on your starting point, diet, and genetics. However, I think it is safe to say that if you stick to the program and have a decent diet, you will see great results over the course of the 12 weeks. That being said, here are my personal results:
I tested my strength on the main lifts before and after running the program and each improved by a solid 10-20 pounds. It should be noted though that I am already an “advanced” lifter, so if you are just starting out expect your body to add twice that if not more to all your lifts.
The gains in terms of strength were not the most substantial I have ever seen but that is to be expected. The goal of this program is to build strength while also improving general athleticism. As a result, the first few weeks are the only of a program that really focuses on strength via low reps and heavy sets.
Where I really saw a large jump, was in my mobility. By the end of the program, I was doing some of the more advanced stretches with ease. It is difficult to explain how much of a positive impact mobility work will have on your lifting to those of you who have never dedicated some serious time to it.
Everything just feels smoother during the course of a lift and I fear getting injured less. I would say that it is worth doing this program just for the sake of getting a solid level of mobility built.
Another area of fitness that lifters underappreciate is work capacity. With a higher work capacity, you can lift more weights more often thanks to the better work capacity. Not to mention that you will also see better gains thanks to the ability to perform at a higher level for longer.
The later phases of the program really push your cardiovascular system and general conditioning to whole new levels. Since switching back to a normal PPL program, I found that I was able to take shorter rest times while still performing just as well.
You also do not realize the generally higher calorie expenditure of the workouts. I gained little to no weight during the course of this program even though I was eating quite sloppily.
As far as athleticism goes, it is hard to say since I am not a dedicated D1 athlete, but I will do my best. After some of the more athletic-focused phases, I could certainly see a difference in my general coordination and acceleration.
I felt more comfortable with having weight in my hands while making quick direction changes. If you are an athlete, I think that this program really does have a lot to offer. At just 12 weeks long, it is perfect for off-season athletes looking to maintain or improve their skills.
What Equipment Is Required For MAPS Performance?
What really makes MAPS Performance great is that the program comes with two separate versions designed for home or commercial gyms.
For the home gym version, you will need the basics:
For the full gym program:
- Weight Plates
- Squat Rack
For both versions, you will need a mobility stick to assist in your mobility sessions. The stick itself is really easy to make and they have an included video guide in the online portal.
Personally, since I have all the equipment I would need in my home gym, I ran both versions of the program. I had great workouts with each, so do not be afraid to mix and match if you do not have all the equipment as you will still have a great workout.
MAPS Performance vs MAPS Anabolic
MAPS Anabolic is Mind Pump’s foundational program that is more geared towards general strength and muscle building. Given that these are Mind Pump’s two most popular programs, they often get compared to see which is better.
Having personally run both, I think that MAPS Anabolic will be the better program for most people, at least at first. The foundational strength you gain from that program will transfer well to any other program you do. Similar to MAPS Performance, the program also has a ton of video guides and a well-planned program structure. What I think makes it better for most people is the fact that is cheaper by about 30% and has less of a time commitment. If you can only get one and are not a serious athlete, MAPS Anabolic is probably better for your needs.
That being said, MAPS Performance provides a lot of value as well. If you are an athlete, of course, you should run Performance instead. For the general population, I think running Anabolic and then Performance would be ideal. First, you build a solid base of strength, before learning how to use that strength in more athletic, explosive ways.
The only downside to that approach, of course, is that you have to buy separate programs. If you want to save some money, consider getting their bundle if you know you are in it for the long haul. This is what I personally purchased since I saw the most value. You get lots of MAPS programs, including MAPS Anabolic and MAPS Aesthetic.
What I Like About MAPS Performance
Here are the key features of MAPS Performance that I think makes it one of the better programs on the market:
Targets All Aspects Of Fitness
I think a common criticism that can be made of most programs out there is that they are very one-dimensional. They will often only target one facet of fitness, whether it be strength, hypertrophy, or conditioning.
This specific form of training is great for people who are dedicated to that one niche of fitness. But most people would be better off running a program that instead aims to improve their total fitness.
I really think MAPS Performance does a great job at this. The three lifting sessions will get you bigger and stronger while the exercise selection will ensure that you improve athletically as well. Meanwhile, the mobility sessions help improve your form and prevent injury.
The distinct phases of this program ensure that no workout ever gets boring or repetitive. The constant changes in exercise selection and execution kept me excited to go to the gym. Also thanks to constant changes, you are always improving as there is never really time to plateau.
The mobility sessions would also provide a needed break after one of the foundational workouts while also allowing me to do something on my off days.
Detailed Instructional Video Guides
The video guides are some of the best I have ever seen. The Mind Pump guys really go into lots of details and will make any movement seem doable and easy with a few cues. Even on exercises where I thought I already had a good form like bench, I found myself watching the videos because they were just that good. Mind Pump has a youtube channel where you can get a sample of the video style.
Example Video Guide
What I Did Not Like About MAPS Performance
Just like any program, there are a few things that could have been better:
Does Not Include MAPS Prime
MAPS Prime is the recovery and mobility program in the MAPS line. The program itself is great because it provides some great foundational basics to set up for a successful lifting career. However, I think it should be included with every MAPS program by default.
MAPS Performance at least includes the mobility sessions, but I still think that something as basic as recovery and mobility should come included by default.
Training Logs Are Basic
This is another common criticism I have about MAPS programs and that is that their included training logs are just to basic. They are nothing more than a basic excel sheet. This is really a shame because training logs aside, it really shows that the Mind Pump team took time to make sure everything else looked good.
Personally, I would like to see a tracking app for these programs included upon purchase but there is nothing like that as of yet.
Tips For Getting The Most Out Of MAPS Performance
After running this program a few times, I have learned a few things that almost always lead to better outcomes with MAPS Performance:
- Stick To The Program: For at least your first run through the program, do your best to stick to it by the book. The people behind this program know what they are talking about so trust them and you will see results.
- Prioritize Form Over Weight: Some of the exercises will likely be new to you, especially in the late phases. Make sure you take the time to learn the movement and not increase the weight too early.
- Pay Attention To The Tempo And Rest: Each phase has a prescribed temp and rest period. These are important details that can really change the dynamic of an exercise so make sure you stick to them.
- Do The Mobility Sessions: The mobility sessions are very beneficial and part of the program so you should be doing them on all your off days. I know that they are not as fun as lifting but they will really enhance your lifting sessions so they are worth doing.
- Allow Your Body Time To Adjust: The later phases, phase II in particular can be very challenging from a conditioning standpoint. But do your best to stick to the program, you will get better as the weeks go by.
Overall, MAPS Performance is an excellent program that will challenge you and improve your fitness in every way possible. The phased programming and variation make it a great choice for anyone looking to get into shape no matter their experience level. Even if you have limited equipment, the program does a good job at ensuring that you stay on track and get results as well.
MAPS Performance Rating
MAPS Performance is a great all -around program that you are guaranteed to see results with. The dynamic exercises and intelligent programming make it an easy choice for anyone looking to start a new program.
What does MAPS stand for?
MAPS stands for muscular adaptation programming system. Essentially it means that the guiding principle in MAPS programs is to guide your muscles to adapt to different stimulus
How long does a MAPS Performance workout take?
Usually about an hour for the lifting sessions and half an hour for the mobility sessions.
What are mobility sessions?
Mobility sessions are short, half hour sessions designed to be done on your off days to focus on mobility and recovery. I would recommend to do as many as possible. The lifting sessions will produce the most results but the mobility sessions are still worth doing.
Is MAPS Performance for beginners?
I would personally not recommend MAPS performance unless you already have some sort of lifting or athlete experience.
What if I have muscular imbalances?
If you think that your body is not ready to do such a demanding program like Performance, I would recommend MAPS Symmetry to fix some of these muscular imbalances.