This is our MAPS Symmetry review. MAPS Symmetry is the MAPS program that the Mind Pump team made to work on muscle balance and symmetrical growth.
Anybody who has trained for a significant amount of time knows that they have more strength and mobility on one side of their body than the other. If you were to take measurements of some average lifters, you would easily find that most have legs and arms that differ in size by 1/2 inch or more. Now the arms and legs are the easiest places to see it, but these types of imbalances occur all across our body and can wreak havoc if not addressed correctly.
Sure, you have no real issues in the long term. But as time goes on and these imbalances only get worse, Eventually you will start getting injured and not be able to reach your full potential because you never addressed those little imbalances early on.
The reality is that most online programs, even some of the better ones, do little to nothing to address this common issue. I would go as far as to argue that most make it worse due to their lack of exercise variation and unilateral training.
For this reason, I think that MAPS Symmetry provides a welcome change in most people’s training. In this MAPS Symmetry review, we will discuss the pros, cons, and features of this program before deciding whether or not it is worth it.
MAPS Symmetry Review: A Quick Overview
MAPS Symmetry is the program designed by the Mind Pump team to correct muscular imbalances and trigger balanced, symmetrical growth across your muscles. For those not aware, the Mind Pump Media team is made up of former bodybuilders, personal trainers, gym owners, and athletes. Their YouTube channel is always putting out some of the best and most informative fitness videos on the web.
The program itself is 11 weeks long and broken up into four distinct phases that last 2-3 weeks each. The program is designed to have you in the gym for 5 days each week with 3 foundational workouts and 2 specialty sessions. Even though the main goal of the program is to fix muscle imbalances, you will still get many of the benefits you would expect from a lifting program, like getting stronger and bigger.
What Included In MAPS Symmetry
- Online Portal: Easy-to-use online portal where you can access videos, workouts, and guides
- Lifetime Access: With lifetime access, you can make use of any future updates or added guides
- Instructional Videos: There are over 100 videos with useful information. There are also separate exercise guides for men and women.
- Support: Plenty of support within the program with FAQs and general guidelines
- Phases: The program is broken up into 4 phases that each last 2-3 weeks
- Foundational Training: Foundational weight training with 3 guided lifting sessions per week
- Specialized Training Sessions: Detailed workouts for your non-foundational days to focus on mobility or weaker body parts
- Blueprint: Calendar and blueprint so you can plan your program completion and see how you will progress
- 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
- Corrects muscular imbalances
- Intelligent program design with each phase building on the last
- Detailed video guides for every exercise
- A good community willing to offer support and answer questions
- Focus sessions target lagging body parts
- Mobility sessions will improve the mobility and strength of connective tissue
- Increases stability and balance for stronger lifts
- No home gym mods
- No training logs
- No regression exercises to allow for progression
- MAPS Prime not included
- Anyone who has trained with a barbell for an extended period of time
- Those who have muscular imbalances
- Athletes looking to prevent injuries
- Lifters who want to achieve a more balanced physique
Not Recommended For:
- Home gym owners who do not have the right equipment
- Absolute beginners that have not built their base levels of strength yet
Using MAPS Symmetry: Our Experience
I as well as several other members of the FitDominium team, ran MAPS Symmetry and got good results. Here is my personal experience from start to finish:
Getting Started: MAPS Online Portal
The online portal is the same one used for all the other MAPS programs, which is not a bad thing. The portal is very well organized and easy to navigate with a good user interface. When you log on, you will have access to all of the guides, workouts, and videos.
For any online program, I recommend that people take the time to look through all of the material so they can get an idea of what to expect and set themselves up for success. This is especially true with a program like MAPS Symmetry. The exercises and training techniques are probably things you have never done before, so you will want to get a good grasp on the concepts and form before you dive in at the gym.
For my first few sessions, I would access the portal on my phone while I was in the gym just to make sure I was nailing all of the exercises. The videos are really excellent; they show that the Mind Pump guys really took the time to explain every dimension of an exercise or session.
As you gain more experience and get used to the program, you will likely only need to reference the online portal every now and then when you change phases.
Running The Program
Like most MAPS programs, the program is broken up into three distinct phases. Each of these phases has different routines and form guidelines designed to target a specific goal. Here is what you can expect in each phase of MAPS Symmetry:
- Phase I: In the first phase you will be doing lots of isometric holds and suspensions. The goal here is to build overall strength and stability. This will be very different from your traditional strength training but your weaknesses and imbalances will become very obvious over the first few sessions.
- Phase II: The second phase is where you take advantage of the stability you built in the first phase and begin to do more unilateral exercises in the hypertrophy rep ranges. The goal of this is to begin to correct some of those imbalances and get you used to work your body one side at a time.
- Phase III: In this range, you take some of those unilateral exercises your learned in the second phase and try to get as strong as you can. The weight goes up and reps decrease to be in more of a strength-building rep range. For this reason, you should really take time in Phase II to master the movements before you do them with heavy weight.
- Phase IV: In this final phase, you switch over to more traditional 5 x 5 strength training. The goal here is for you to perform the traditional compound movements like squatting and bench with the new skills you learned over the course of the program. If you did things correctly, you be more stable and stronger on these core lifts thanks to your balance and mobility gains.
Throughout the program, you also have to do specialized sessions on two of your off days. These sessions will either be focused on mobility or bringing up a lagging part depending on the phase you are in.
These mobility sessions will last 20-40 minutes and consist mostly of stretches and dynamic movements. I recommend you stick to these, as they are crucial for correcting imbalances. Lots of the time, the root cause of an imbalance is that one side does not have as good of mobility as the other. So when you lift weights, the more mobile and capable side will take over.
These sessions also ended off with some calf and core. From a balance standpoint, this makes lots of sense. The mass majority of people barely train their core and calves if at all. If you truly want a balanced look, you have to work all the muscles in your body.
For the focus sessions, you get a higher level of customization than you do with other parts of the program. Essentially, you choose a weak body part and do 2-3 exercises for high reps during a focus session. Over the course of a week or complete phases, this results in significantly more volume for weaker body parts.
In my case, I did lots of bicep work during my focus sessions and saw decent results. You just have to come into it with an open mind and realize that whatever you have been doing has not been cutting it so maybe more volume is the answer.
MAPS Symmetry Results
Results will vary from person to person depending on your experience, diet, and genetics. Personally, I found that the program produced great results for me and my physique:
I never really realized it during my regular training, but my right side was stronger than my left by quite a significant margin. Depending on the lift, my right side could easily do an additional 10-30 pounds more for reps. Thanks to the unilateral training and isometric holds, I closed the gap and my left side has come up a good bit.
That being said, you are not going to fix years of muscular imbalances in just a few weeks. If you truly want to eliminate imbalances, you should try running this program often or incorporate some of the unilateral and isometric training techniques into your regular training.
Strength and Size
I was shocked during the final phase when my core lifts were all significantly stronger than when I started. As the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link. In my case, I think improving my weaker side led to being stronger on my lifts despite not really focusing on them during the program.
Along with the strength gains, I also noticed that my weaker side came in terms of measurements as well.
Mobility and Balance
If you are like men and have never done dedicated mobility or balance work, this aspect of the program will be very challenging but well worth it.
Because many of the exercises are one-sided, you really have to work on your balance to have a stable base for moving weight. I personally saw the biggest improvements in my single exercises. At least now, I can actually focus on engaging my legs and not on staying upright.
The mobility sessions on the off days were also a huge bonus. The video guides on mobility movements were crucial. Like with strength training, I noticed that my weaker side was less mobile. As time went on, things got better, and I noticed better forms on my lifts as well.
What Equipment Is Required For MAPS Symmetry?
For MAPS Symmetry, you will need:
- Squat Rack
- Weight Plates
- Mobility Stick
- Suspension Trainer
Unlike most other MAPS programs, MAPS Symmetry does not contain home gym modifications that allow you to do the exercises with more basic equipment. That being said, most of this equipment is basic and can be found in most home gyms. Just make sure you have everything that you need before purchasing the program.
MAPS Aesthetic vs Symmetry
MAPS Aesthetic is the MAPS Program designed for hypertrophy and aesthetics. In comparison to MAPS Symmetry, you can expect higher volume and more focus on weaker body parts.
If you are deciding between the two, I would examine your goals to decide which is best. If you really just want to improve your look and love being in the gym every day, MAPS Aesthetic is the program for you. The higher volume and dedicated focus sessions will lead to quicker gains and growth.
MAPS Symmetry may be more beneficial if you are more concerned with the long term and correcting some imbalances. I would argue that most people should run MAPS Symmetry to correct imbalances and work on their mobility, but am aware that some people just really want to see results as quickly as possible.
Ideally, you rotate programs to get the benefits of both. The only issue is that you would have to buy both programs separately. If you want to save some money and get the best value, I would recommend looking at some of the bundles that Mind Pump has so you can get multiple programs like MAPS Anabolic, MAPS Performance, and MAPS Prime for a lower price. As of now, MAPS Symmetry is not in any bundle but I expect that to change soon.
What I Like About MAPS Symmetry
Here are the key aspects of MAPS Symmetry that I think makes it one of the most overall beneficial online programs on the market:
You are not going to correct what is likely a lifetime’s worth of muscular imbalances over the course of a few weeks. However, this program is at least an efficient start in pushing you in the right direction. If you run this program with enough consistency over the course of a year, you should be in a much better place.
The truth is that if you do not put in the work to correct imbalances, you will pay the price somewhere down the line. Whether that be with an injury or unfulfilled potential.
Out of all the MAPS programs, MAPS Symmetry had the most unique workouts by far. I was unfamiliar with the majority of the movements during this first phase and was glued to the online videos for learning purposes.
For me, this was a welcome change in my training. It created a new challenge where I could make rapid progress. It also showed that the Mind Pump team took their time in the design of this program and did not just release a cookie-cutter program.
Great Instructional Videos
The video guides are some of the best I have ever seen. The Mind Pump guys really go into lots of details and will make any movement seem doable and easy with a few cues. This became especially useful on some of the holds and suspensions where I was truly lost. Even on exercises where I thought I already had a good form like bench, I found myself watching the videos because they were just that good. You can go on Youtube and watch some of my Mind Pump’s free content to get a feel for the quality of the videos.
What I Did Not Like About MAPS Symmetry
Like any program, here are the things I thought could have been better:
No Home Gym Mods
One of the reasons I often recommend the MAPS programs to home gym owners is that most come with home gym mods. This means that you can have basic home gym equipment and still get good results. This is why I do not understand why the same thing could not have been done for the MAPS Symmetry program.
I realize that the Mind Pump team does not want to recommend or give mods if they do not think it will get the same results. But I think that giving people the home gym mods and informing them that it is not optimal is better than not giving them any home gym mods at all.
No Initial Strength Phase
Another thing that most other MAPS Programs have that this one leaves out is the initial low-rep, heavy-weight strength phases. I realize the goal is to work on imbalances, but an initial, 2-3 week strength portion would ease people into the program and give them a solid benchmark to compare against in Phase IV.
Tips To Get The Most Out Of MAPS Symmetry
After running this program a fair few times, I picked up some pointers on how to maximize your results:
- Use A Timer: For the timed holds and suspensions, I guarantee you will cut yourself short unless you have time to keep yourself accountable
- Do The Mobility and Focus Sessions: While shorter, these sessions are still crucial to getting results. Make sure you do them.
- Master The Form: During Phase II, do your best to focus on the form and nail it down. If you do not and start adding heavyweight in Phase III, bad things can happen.
- Do The Program As Written: The Mind Pump team know a thing or two about training. Give them the benefit of the doubt and run the program exactly as they wrote it.
- Do Not Get Discouraged: Lots of the movements will be new to you so you will struggle. Give yourself time to improve, I promise you will.
Out of all the MAPS Programs, this one will be the most beneficial to your overall health and longevity. The habits you build and techniques you learn will translate well to other aspects of your training and go a long way at correcting some of the imbalances you have built up over the years.
MAPS Symmetry Rating
MAPS Symmetry is an essential program in the MAPS collection if you are trying to have a long-lifting career. You will notice a big difference in your balance, mobility, and strength after running this program.
What does MAPS stand for?
MAPS stands for muscular adaptation programming system. Essentially it means that the guiding principle in MAPS programs is to guide your muscles to adapt to different stimulus
Can I do MAPS Symmetry in a home gym?
Yes, as long as you have the required equipment. Just be aware that this program requires more equipment than other MAPS programs and does not provide home gym mods.
How long does a MAPS Symmetry session take?
The foundational workouts can be done in 40–60 minutes. Meanwhile, the more specialized mobility and focus sessions will take 20-40 minutes.
Should a beginner do MAPS Symmetry?
I would rather opt for a program that builds base levels of strength, like MAPS Anabolic for a beginner.