Performance based training means doing what you can with what you have. Its litmus test is how well you do a certain task or set of tasks. This training model is different from the more commonly used system called outcome based training, which says – how many, how much, how fast. The outcome based training method is common in CrossFit and other fitness programs which pushes athletes against arbitrary benchmarks like how fast an athlete can complete 150 wallballs. Motivation in the outcome based model comes from the stopwatch and getting on the whiteboard or a top ranking in your gym.
These two training models have been described by one of my favorite coaches, Pat McNamara. McNamara is a former US Special Operations action guy who now shares his passion for firearms proficiency, combatives and fitness through his training company called TMacs Inc.
McNamara’s eccentric personality is displayed on Youtube and oozes attitude and confidence. He is somehow a cross between Macho Man Randy Savage and well known firearms expert Jerry Miculek. McNamara describes his passion for teaching others the skills of “badassery”.
Ron and I share this passion of teaching other men the skills they need to be a badass. Whether it is through fitness, nutrition, habit formation, leadership or ultimately sainthood…we want to expose men to their true potential and help them discover the freedom that is possible that will enable us to be great.
In order to get where we want to go it takes time and discipline or in other words…training. By using a performance based model to improve in the various parts of our life we can frame our outlook with incremental qualitative improvements rather than being concerned with the external pressure of the outcome based training model of how many, how much and how fast.
The performance based model allows you to focus on improving yourself with what you have and frees you from the unnecessary pressure of how others think you should be able to perform. It stresses how well you complete a task given your individual ability and limitations.
Practically speaking this played out in my gym this week. I performed a high intensity workout at a higher weight for deadlift than I had in the past. I chose to challenge myself in this way because I have been measuring my recent strength gains and wanted to push my individual work capacity even though it would slow my time down to complete the workout. I chose to not concern myself with beating the time of my buddies but doing what I thought I could do with the fitness capacity I had that day.
It proved to be a tougher workout than most, but I completed it and was pleased to see that I was able to lift a heavier load that day while still pushing my metabolic threshold. Certainly other guys can lift heavier weight and do it faster than me, but I wasn’t concerned with what others can do. My focus was on my performance and how I improved that day given what I had in that moment.
One of McNamara’s better quotes that describes that essence of performance based training is this:
“If you cloned yourself yesterday, can you kick your clone’s ass today?”
In other words, we should measure improvement by looking at what abilities and limitations we are given today and push ourselves to be better than we were yesterday. Look at how you can become more of a badass today than you were yesterday based on your performance…whether it is how much you lift, what you eat or how you pray.
“Put on the Armor of God” (Eph 6:11)