The Power Of The Personal Best

The power of the personal best

We chat to Celestie Engelbrecht, South Africa’s CrossFit Champion about this fitness strategy you should be using.

‘Personal Best’ (otherwise known as PB) is often used in CrossFit. However, it is not only for athletes at the box, it is also for everyone that is interested in fitness or on a weight loss programme.

A way to measure your success.

It’s all about constantly improving yourself. It provides a way of always being better than you were yesterday and pushing yourself to achieve more than you ever thought you could. Therefore, your competition is not the person on the treadmill or box next to you, but rather the person staring back at you when you look in the mirror.

“A personal best is when you do something better than you did it before. It can come in any form of what you do, depending on your sport,” says Celestie Engelbrecht, South Africa’s female CrossFit Champion.

In terms of CrossFit, athletes adopt certain days where they implement “personal best tests”- which is the best lift you can manage currently. The aim is to find out the best expression of strength that you can muster on a day. A ‘Personal Best Day’ is when an athlete achieves his or her personal record on a lift. This number is also important if an athlete wishes to compete in CrossFit games.

However, not everyone is a CrossFit athlete, so can gym- goers also use make use of the technique?

Well, it is possible.

A runner for example might use it in this way; his or her personal best last week was 5km, this week he or she must run for more than 5km to beat last week’s PB or exactly 5km to maintain it. Alternatively, you could run at a faster rate. The same way a weight-lifter will increase his or her reps or weight in order to be better than last week.

Alternatively, you could set out a certain day to test out your ‘Personal Best Score’. You can use the technique creatively to come up with tests for yourself.

“Any person can do a PB in any exercise, ” says Celestie, “this can be inside, or even outside of the gym.”

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1 . One- minute strength tests (performing as many reps as possible in one minute) which can be applied to any form of exercise of specific muscle groups. This can include push-ups, squats and sit -ups.

2. Time trails. This is where you run as fast as you can for a stipulated distance and or time.

3. Distance trails. This is where you test how far you run in a specified time.

4. One rep max tests, which determines the total amount your maximum strength. Knowing this number is useful as many training programmes will ask you to lift a certain percentage of your one rep max. For example, German Volume Training (performing 10 sets of 10 reps per compound movement with the same weight for each set) may ask you to figure out 60 per cent of your squat one rep so that you can work your way up to squatting more weight.

Remember to always note your reps, weight used, or distance covered when you workout. However, beware not to compromise your form! Always maintain proper form despite wanting to increase your numbers.

By knowing these numbers you can benchmark your fitness and track your progress every 4-6 weeks. Thus, your benchmark is always moving, you are constantly improving yourself, overall fitness, and results.

“A ‘Personal Best’ benefits any person because it means you are progressing or improving all the time,” agrees Celestie.

Your body hears everything your mind says!

It is important to note that not every day will be a personal best day. It is impossible to always perform at your maximum. However it is important to keep in mind that sometimes we place limits on ourselves. So, use your PBs as motivation to help you push passed them. Most fitness professionals will tell you that fitness is 90 percent mental. Besides, it is as Michelangelo once said, “the greatest danger for most of us is not that we aim to high and miss it, but that we aim to low and reach it.”


Celestie Engelbrecht Photography by Ruby Wolff Supplied by USN



Author: Tanja Schmitz

Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.