You are no longer a noobie when you know what a PB is (in a fitness context, anyway).  It stands for “Personal Best.” PBs are a great way to benchmark your development as an athlete.  A PB is a record of your best, fastest, or farthest performance after you went [insert sport clichés here] all out and gave your maximum effort.  So, how long can you hold that plank?  Come on – was that your absolute best?  Or how may reps total you can do before you just pooch out or fall over.  This limit is often called TMF, or total muscle failure.  My advice is to only do the TMF exercises when you are fairly well-conditioned to that exercise.  True story:  My brother got me doing some cross-fit with him about 10 years ago.  It included chin-ups to TMF.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.  I couldn’t either fully straighten or fully bend my arms for nearly TWO WEEKS!  So, you want to have some level of conditioning before trying something that intense!

Another variation of a PB is repetition-based.  How many of the exercise reps can you do within a given time?  For example, how many kettlebell swings (using good form!) can you do in 3 minutes?   Consider the activity and your skill/experience level when you determine the time limit.  Don’t make it too easy – it should be a challenging time.  If you pooch out before the time, that’s still data. Next time, try to do more before you pooch out.  You could also use a distance, such as running 5km or swimming 100m, and then recording how long it takes you (in these examples, lower time is better).

Plan to try for PBs at regular intervals.  That way, you will be able to gauge your rate of progress too. For this challenge, you might take Saturdays as your day to aim for a PB.  I know a planker who is trying that.  She is evaluating whether it would be better to aim for the PB after a rest day or not. That’s a great issue to try to sort out.  Sometimes, you just have to figure out what works best for you. Try something.  See how it works.  Try something else.  See how that works.  Compare. Think. Figure.  Evaluate.  Decide what you want to use and go for it.  You might stick with it or you might modify it.  I personally see my exercise program as one great big experiment with lots of moving parts.  It’s always getting tweaked somewhere.  Adjust as you need, but have a basic plan.

If you graph the results and you like data analysis (like me!) you can predict realistic training targets which will push you just hard enough to see some fairly quick development.  You can use the information to develop training that meets your personal goals.  You decide what works for you.

Keep track of your PBs.  Celebrate with your training buddy every time you establish a new PB.  Feel free to email us here and we’ll celebrate with you!  Smashing PBs is a great way to honestly and realistically boost your self-esteem.

2 thought on “DAY 18: PBs”
  1. When I was in Regina yesterday, I did a lot of walking along the halls of Wascaana Rehab Centre and a lot of walking in Wallmart before that. In addition t the 2 laps I had done at home before I statred out, we figured out that I accomplished at least 5 laps altogether. That's a P.B. for me!

  2. Great and timely post – I am sure a lot of people have now felt out there regime and are poised to attack some element to create a PB.

    Probably a worthy post at some point in the near future – How to avoid over-training. Lots of science on this, but I would sum it up as critically important to recognize the shock that this month has had on people at all levels. At the end of February, we will need some change and some rest. We can not continue to get PBs every Saturday in the same thing – we will either break our bodies or our minds.

    By changing up the routine to something new (perhaps running or cycling or other) and shooting for new goals in other areas (and recognizing the infinite permutations that can be PBs) we will enable sustainable improvement. It is ok to bench mark a like exercise on occasion, but I would suggest that quarterly or biannually is probably as frequent as it should be.

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