We preach a lot about abandoning superficial numerical goals however, the idea of training for a specific number or benchmark is not entirely bad. In fact, on it’s own, it can be highly motivating. It’s when the training becomes so blatantly skewed in a way that the main emphasis becomes the benchmark, rather than performance, that we see fault. Many people liken this to standardized testing seen in public schools or even testing at the NFL combine. The exception to this, of course, being if the actual benchmark movement IS your performance sport.
We are competitive by nature and we have a need to measure athletes against each other for assessment purposes. When someone lifts more, jumps higher, or throws farther, it is quantifiable. You can compare one athlete to another within these set movements to see who can perform them the best. The problem is that this doesn’t give very much room for the idea of application. In this industry, we continue to struggle conveying and quantifying athleticism.
You wouldn’t want to shape an entire program around seemingly arbitrary benchmarks. The reason being that they will only represent one aspect of performance, a mere indication of what an individual is capable of. Pick certain benchmarks for a reason and know without a shadow of a doubt why you're using them. If some are meant to encourage competition, that's fine, but the real emphasis should be on the individual athlete. Benchmarks can impart a sense of achievement and progress that can be directly attributed to the individual, rather than team.
An argument for numbers: Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, we like the idea of moving more weight than last time, or than the person next to us. Creating and achieving benchmarks can be fun and have practical application when implemented intelligently. Getting results has always been our goal as a coaches and finding tools that get the job done optimally is part of that goal.
Here are a few Power Athlete benchmarks that you can confidently place on your leaderboard. By no means is this a fully comprehensive list of testing exercises, but it sure as shit is a great start.
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