You can be eating right and dedicating hours to the gym every day, but you will make limited progress unless you are running a proper program. I honestly believe that I could have gotten the same strength and muscle gains that I have now in a fraction of the years it took me if I had gotten on a proper training program (like MAPS Anabolic) and stuck to it.
The problem in the age of online programs and coaching is that the majority of programs are extremely basic and do not go beyond what you could find for free. Sure, most of these programs will produce some level of results but the vast majority of online programs are a waste of time and money.
In this review, we will be taking a look at one of the most popular programs in 2023 and deciding whether it bucks the trend of disappointing online programs. In this MAPS Anabolic Review, we will go over what’s included in the program as well as the pros and cons before deciding whether or the program is worth it.
- MAPS Anabolic Review: A Quick Overview
- Is MAPS Anabolic Worth It?
- Using MAPS Anabolic: Our Experience
- What Equipment Is Required For MAPS Anabolic?
- What I Like About MAPS Anabolic
- What I Did Not Like About MAPS Anabolic
- MAPS Performance vs. MAPS Anabolic
- Tips For Getting The Best Results With MAPS Anabolic
- Final Verdict
MAPS Anabolic Review: A Quick Overview
MAPS Anabolic was the first-ever foundational program released by the Mind Pump team. For those that are not aware, the Mind Pump team is made up of former personal trainers, bodybuilders, and strength coaches that consistently produce some of the highest quality fitness information on the internet.
The program itself is a full-body program that requires 2-3 lifting sessions per week and focus on splitting your training into “mini-cycles” to avoid plateaus and continuously make progress.
What’s Included In MAPS Anabolic
- Online Portal: Easy to use online portal where you can access all of your programs and exercises
- Lifetime Access: The programs are frequently updated with new information so you will be able to take advantage of updates as they come out.
- Instructional Videos: There are over 60 exercises tutorials with separate demonstrations for men and women
- Training Logs: The program includes training logs designed to help you track each session of the program
- Support: The programs included access to support teams and a ton of helpful FAQs that will guide you through most of the program
- Mini-Cycles: The program is broken up into four individual cycles that keep things fresh and limit plateaus
- Trigger Sessions: Off-day trigger sessions designed to increase muscles growth and recovery
- Home Gym Mods: Each given exercise comes with a list of acceptable home gym substations making this program great for home and commercial gyms
- 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
- Detailed video exercise guides are very informative and detailed
- Alternative exercise options for home gym owners are included
- Can be used by people of all experience levels
- The program has guides and applications for both men and women
- Trigger Sessions are unique and surprisingly effective
- Designed by professionals with experience
- Less time commitment than other programs
- Builds muscle and boosts metabolism
- MAPS Prime (Their mobility and recovery program) is not included
- Workout logs are not much better than a regular excel sheet
- Some exercises are a bit more advanced and may be too much for beginners
- Not great for people that want to train with high volume or spend most days in the gym
Is MAPS Anabolic Worth It?
As far as online training programs go, MAPS Anabolic is an excellent program for lifters of all experience levels. The versatility means it is a great option for anyone training with weights in a commercial or home gym. Everything in the program is supported by real training experience and science, so you will see results if you follow it properly. Here is how I would recommend the MAPS Anabolic program to:
- Those looking for a time-tested program that is proven to build muscles and provide results
- Home gym owners looking for a program that can be done with limited equipment
- People who do not have the time to go to the gym 5+ days per week but still want to lift
- Lifters that have hit a plateau and are looking for a program to get back on track
Not Recommended For:
- People for looking for a program that is highly specific (Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, etc)
- Those looking to be in the gym multiple days per week and train with a higher volume style
Using MAPS Anabolic: Our Experience
I myself have run MAPS Anabolic and seen great results: Here is my experience with the program from start to finish:
Getting Started: The MAPS Online Portal
Upon purchasing the program, you will gain access to the MAPS Anabolic online portal. From here, is where you will access all the instructional videos, workouts, FAQs, and trigger sessions. The online portal has a great user interface which makes using it very intuitive.
When I first started out, I spent a lot of time in the portal reading all of the exercise guides and FAQs and generally consuming as much information as I could. As time went on and I got more comfortable, I really only referenced the portal whenever I started a new mini-cycle so that I could view the guides for the new exercises.
Running The Program
As we already touched on, MAP Anabolic is broken up into a series of mini-cycles, each designed for a specific goal and to prime you for the next cycle. Here is a quick overview of what you can expect in each phase/mini-cycle:
- Pre-Phase: During this phase, you will be doing minimal sets but higher reps at around 12-20 reps. The goal here is to really get the form down and get your body in the groove of weight training.
- Phase I: During Phase I, you will be doing more sets with fewer reps, around 1-4 reps per set. This portion of the program is mostly designed to increase your strengths on big compound lifts. You will probably see your biggest jumps in strength during this portion of the program.
- Phase II: For the second phase, you can expect to turn up the volume a little bit. At around 8-12 reps per set and shorter rest times, the goal is now to really feel the muscles and give your muscles a nice and round look.
- Phase III: For the third and final phase, you are turning up the volume even more and even adding an extra training day. During this final push is where I really got some amazing pumps and got a nice polish on my muscles.
The thought process behind trigger sessions is that your body can really handle more volume than you are aware of, especially when you do not use heavy weights. The basic way trigger sessions work is that you pick a body part that you think is a weak point and then do some high-volume sets on your off days from a selected list of exercises. These exercises on this list are low-impact and use little or no equipment. Trigger sessions can be done multiple times per day and should not last more than ten minutes each.
For example, I think my arms are a weak point, so on my off days, I would bang out a few trigger sessions of banded hammer curls. Now, as far as how effective these trigger sessions are, I really do not know. I noticed that my arms improved, but I am not sure how much of that can be attributable to the trigger sessions as opposed to the main program.
Either way, I thought that the trigger sessions were unique and fun. They gave me something to look forward to on my off days since this program does not have you in the gym most days.
Results will vary a lot based on diet, genetics, and how much you stick to the program. Personally, I ran MAPS Anabolic during a bulking phase and this is how my numbers looked.
Strength Bench Marks
It should be noted that MAPS is not a program solely dedicated to getting your numbers on the squat, bench, deadlift, or overhead. But, I think that these lifts serve as a good overall measure of strength:
- Previous All-Time Best: 365 Pounds
- New All-Time Best: 395 Pounds
- Previous All-Time Best: 290 Pounds
- New All-Time Best: 315Pounds
- Previous All-Time Best: 495 Pounds
- New All-Time Best: 505 Pounds
- Previous All-Time Best: 190 Pounds
- New All-Time Best: 200 Pounds
Now, these slight increases may not seem all that great but I think this is great progress for the stage I am at as a lifter. I expect that the pound for increases would have been doubled or tripled if I had done this program when I was a novice.
What Equipment Is Required For MAPS Anabolic?
For MAPS Anabolic, you can run the program in a home or commercial gym setting. Unlike most other online programs, I think that this one was designed with home gym owners in mind.
A key feature of this program is that it includes a home gym mod that gives a list of alternatives that use just dumbbells and an adjustable bench. These are both items that most home gyms already have.
Personally, I use a combination of home gym exercises and default exercises. In my home gym, I have a rack, bar, dumbbells, and bench so I can do the vast majority of the exercises. The only issue is that the program will eventually use cables and my cable system is a pain to set up. So for these cable movements, I just use the home gym mod dumbbell options instead.
For this reason, I recommend MAPS Anabolic as the best program for home and garage gym owners.
What I Like About MAPS Anabolic
Here are the key features of MAPS Anabolic that I think make it one of the best online programs on the market:
I am a more advanced lifter, so progress is slow and a grind. However, I found that I still saw progress in every session when I ran this program. Since I kept seeing results both in the mirror and in the gym, it made it very easy to stick to the program.
If I saw significant gains, I believe that beginners can easily coast on this program alone until they reach the advanced stage.
So many programs can just get very boring after a few weeks of the same old 5×5 on the compound exercises. This program keeps things interesting by constantly switching up exercise selection, rest times, and set/rep schemes.
The trigger sessions on rest days also provide something unique that I have not seen in any other program before, they certainly keep things fresh and allow for a way to target your weak points.
Minimal Time Commitment
The most frequent excuse I hear when people say they cannot go to the gym is that they “do not have the time.” That gets pretty hard to justify when this program only requires you to be in the gym for an hour twice a week.
I was surprised by the results I saw by actually spending less time in the gym, but it just goes to show how important focused workouts and rest are. I understand that many people enjoy spending lots of time in the gym, but I also understand that more is not always better. For most people, the goal should be to get the best results while putting in as little time and effort as possible.
Detailed Video Guides
The video exercise guides are excellent. You can really tell that the Mind Pump guys know what they are talking about when it comes to training. Each one was very detailed and had some very useful cues that would help me get over any form trouble. They have some on their youtube channel so you can get a look at the quality of the videos.
Example Video Guide
What I Did Not Like About MAPS Anabolic
As great as this program is, there are a few aspects that left me wanting more:
Does Not Include MAPS Prime
MAPS Prime is the recovery and mobility program released by the Mind Pump team. Personally, since recovery and mobility are so important, I think that MAPS Prime should just be part of the program.
Since MAPS Anabolic is often marketed as the foundational program for all needs, I think covering the basics like mobility and recovery should be the bare minimum. It would certainly help people avoid injuries and just make MAPS Anabolic more effective overall.
Technically, you can buy MAPS Anabolic with MAPS Prime in some bundles that Mind Pump offers but it does not change that Prime should just be included by default
Training Logs Are Lackluster
Put simply, the training logs included in the program are little more than an excel sheet. This is very unfortunate since I think the rest of the program was very well-designed and detailed.
At a minimum, the team at Mind Pump should refresh these so that they include the exercise already written along with the sets and reps you are supposed to do. But what I would really like to see is a tracking app. Whether that be an app that Mind Pump creates or just incorporating the program into an app that already exists, I don’t care. Just having somewhere to track these workouts other than the cheap logs would be nice.
MAPS Performance vs. MAPS Anabolic
MAPS Performance is Mind Pump’s foundational program that is more geared towards athletic performance along with strength. 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.
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 is, of course, 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 Aesthetic, MAPS Performance, and MAPS Prime.
Tips For Getting The Best Results With MAPS Anabolic
After running this program as well as several others over my lifting career, here are some tips to help you get the most out of this program:
- Use The Exercises Regressions: The programs include more basic versions of exercise known as regressions. If you cannot do the original exercise with good form, do not be afraid to use the regression. This will help you avoid injuries and ensure you make progress in the long run.
- Bulk: The program will really work best if you are in a slight caloric surplus or maintaining at the bare minimum.
- Perfect Form: This program has dedicated phases for getting your form down. Take these sessions seriously so you better set up for success in the later phases.
- Do The Trigger Sessions: The trigger sessions keep you engaged on your off days and help you address your weak points. Take a small portion out of your day to do these.
- Do Not Overlook The Prescribed Rest And Temp: Each exercise will have a set tempo and rest period that you should be following. These are important and should be followed for the best results.
- Watch The Videos: If you are unsure about an exercise or have any sort of question, go onto the online portal and watch the exercise guides, These videos are very well made and will answer most questions.
MAPS Anabolic is a solid program that really has a lot to offer. The variation in training styles makes it a great program for people of all experience levels. Likewise, the home gym mods ensure that you get the same results even if you have a limited home gym.
MAPS Anabolic Rating
MAPS Anabolic is a great all-around program that people of all skill levels can use. Its cycling phases ensure that the workouts are always engaging and effective. The endless video guides, make it one of the most comprehensive programs on the market. I recommend it for anyone looking to freshen up their training and pack on some strength and mass.