It’s no surprise they wanted a follow-up.
And to many people’s delight, Mind Pump delivered by releasing MAPS Anabolic Advanced a few months ago (I’m writing this in July of 2023).
I got it right away and finished it a few weeks ago. Normally, I write a review immediately upon completion. This time I needed to think about things for a while first.
My Personal Experience With MAPS Anabolic Advanced
I’m a huge fan of the programs written by the guys at Mind Pump. Of their twenty available programs, I’ve worked through eleven of them. Multiple times each.
I highly recommend them to friends, family, and readers, so much so that I’ve been accused more than once of being a shill for the Mind Pump guys.
Well, this time is different.
I did not enjoy MAPS Anabolic Advanced. It was a struggle for me to complete, and the only reason I did was to write this review.
This program is well above my current abilities and fitness level. It is also unsuited for my personal goals at this time.
While working through MAPS Anabolic Advanced, I overtrained and aggravated old injuries by trying to force-feed a program that was clearly too much for me.
From day one, week one, where 36 sets were programmed in that very first session, I knew I was in trouble. Even with the included deload weeks (clearly there due to the sheer volume asked in this program), it pushed me past my limits.
I will not be running this program a second time. At 52 years old, I just can’t push myself like I could in my twenties.
So does that make this program terrible?
As you’ll see in this review, I think it’s an excellent option for some very specific groups of people.
It just wasn’t for me.
MAPS Anabolic Advanced Review, The Short, TLDR Version
If you are an advanced lifter with a developed work capacity and a desire to build muscle where you haven’t been able to before, MAPS Anabolic Advanced is perfect for you.
This program lives on the cutting edge of exercise selection, advanced programming techniques, and unique methods that are bound to be new and engaging for most lifters.
When I first looked through the program, I was excited to start. Every segment of the program had things I’d only read about and never tried: new movements, new rep schemes, and a new program design. There were even deload weeks programmed in!
Then I looked at the workload.
The most demanding and intense MAPS program I’ve done is MAPS Aesthetic. That program tests my limits every time I run it.
This one blows right past it.
MAPS Anabolic Advanced switches back and forth between high-volume weeks and weeks where you’ll work to failure (honestly, I felt like I was pushing to failure every day).
It also incorporates quite a few techniques you probably haven’t done before. Intra-workout static stretching, failure training, and integrated deload weeks are things you simply don’t find in most programs, including those from Mind Pump.
If you love to train with weights and have been doing it for some time, you will probably love this program. Much of it will be new to you, pushing you further than you are probably used to.
If you are a gym rat looking for ways to stretch your training time out, this is an excellent program for you too.
If you’ve done MAPS Anabolic, Performance, and Aesthetic and want the next step, this is it.
And if you are a long-time lifter who has reached an impassible plateau, MAPS Anabolic Advanced should be the next program you run.
If you don’t fall into one of those categories, I would seriously consider one of the other MAPS programs available.
What’s Included In MAPS Anabolic Advanced?
- Mobile access via the Kajabi app
- Easy to use online portal allows access to all of your MAPS programs.
- Lifetime access, including any program updates or changes.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Over 100 instructional videos walk you through each movement.
- Detailed training blueprint and calendar.
- General guidelines and FAQ to maximize your results.
- 12 weeks of programming
- Three individual phases plus deload weeks.
- Focus on capacity and max effort.
- 5 Days (with an optional 6th) of training per week.
- Mobility integrated two days per week.
Here’s a peek at the main page in the portal for the program. Everything is nicely organized, all in one place!
Who Should Use MAPS Anabolic Advanced?
As I mentioned above, I think four groups of people would enjoy and benefit from MAPS Anabolic Advanced.
People Who Identify As Fitness Enthusiasts
Most people train to be healthy. Sure, it’s an activity they’ve grown to enjoy, but fitness isn’t their identity.
Others build their life around fitness. It’s their avocation, hobby, and profession in many instances.
These folks will love MAPS Anabolic Advanced.
The unique programming approach with little-used techniques and skill applications is sure to be attractive to those that would rather be in the gym than anywhere else.
People Who Want to Spend More Time in the Gym
Similar to the above group, this group equates time in the gym to results. They are never happy with less than two or more hours of daily training.
These folks push hard and expect a lot from themselves. They are an ideal group to work through an intense program like Anabolic Advanced.
Many of the sessions in MAPS Anabolic Advanced took me 90-120 minutes to complete (to be fair, some are much shorter than that).
I’m at a point in my life where I simply don’t want to do that (a huge reason I keep going back to MAPS 15 Minutes).
But there was a time, not too long ago, when I did spend 2+ hours in my gym every training session. And I did that seven days a week.
If I’d had access to Anabolic Advanced, then it probably would have been one of my favorite programs!
People Who Have Completed the MAPS RGB Bundle
If you are an old-school Mind Pump fan, you know that the first three programs they released (MAPS Anabolic, MAPS Performance, and MAPS Aesthetic) are meant to be done in that order by pretty much everyone.
If you haven’t done any MAPS programs and are considering Anabolic Advanced, I would encourage you to start with the RGB bundle first. The RGB bundle is Anabolic, Performance, and Aesthetic bundled together to save you quite a bit of cash. You can see its current pricing here.
But if you have gone through those three, and MAPS Aesthetic left you wanting more, then MAPS Anabolic Advanced is an excellent option for your next program.
Experienced Lifters at an Impassible Plateau
If you’ve been lifting for more than a few years, you are familiar with the dreaded plateau. Things are swimming along nicely, and then they just aren’t.
No more gains for you! You will now sweat and struggle in your garage gym for weeks only to get zero results.
If this is you, MAPS Anabolic Advanced might be precisely what you need.
By switching back and forth between volume and intensity, you’ll find yourself back on the gain train in no time! (Oh geez, I’m embarrassed I actually said that. Feel free to chastise me in the comments)
Who Shouldn’t Use MAPS Anabolic?
If you aren’t in one of the above groups, I wouldn’t recommend MAPS Anabolic Advanced. Odds are there are other MAPS programs that are better suited to your current training needs.
There are also some specific groups of people that, in my opinion, have no business using this program. Not because they “can’t” but because if the goal is to get results, they will be better served by a different program.
If you are new to weightlifting, this program is not for you. In fact, if you are brand new, I wouldn’t even recommend starting with the RGB bundle.
As a new lifter, you’ll quickly learn that what may look simple on paper is often unworkable in the gym.
It’s always best to start small and work up from there. I promise that you’ll get better long-term results this way!
Experienced Lifters Coming Off of a Break
Have you taken a few months or more off? If so, Anabolic Advanced isn’t the program to get you back into the swing of things. Instead, it’s an invitation for an overuse injury.
Any time you are coming off of a break, it’s a great idea to ease back into things.
People Coming Off of an Injury
If you just got the okay from your doc to start lifting again, this program isn’t where you want to start.
I know it can be tempting to jump back in full tilt. I’ve done it myself.
This is especially true if you lost strength while recovering from your injury. It’s human nature to want to return to being as strong as possible as quickly as possible.
But take it from someone who has already made that mistake multiple times. It’s better to go slow than to get injured again!
What equipment do you need for MAPS Anabolic Advanced?
You are covered if you train at a commercial gym with squat racks and free weights.
If you train at home, you’ll need to ensure you have a fairly complete setup. Specifically, you’ll need:
- Power or squat rack with safeties
- Pullup bar
- Adjustable bench
- EZ bar (not required, but I used one a lot)
- Cable machine (I subbed bands in for this)
How Much Does MAPS Anabolic Advanced Cost?
The retail price for MAPS Anabolic Advanced is a one-time payment of $157.00. With that, you get lifetime access to the program and all updates and a 30-day money-back guarantee (which they honor, no questions asked!).
Keep an eye out for sales by listening to their podcast. Unless you need one of their programs right this very moment, they always have a decent sale around the corner.
Pros and Cons of MAPS Anabolic Advanced
Full program access through the Kajabi app
Forum available for questions & form feedback (additional cost)
Over 100 instructional videos
Well-designed and produces consistent results
Advanced techniques not found in other programs
Deload programmed in for you
2 days of mobility programmed in
Great for advanced lifters
No tracking built into the app
Cheesy, loud music over the videos
No verbal instruction in the videos
Too much for some lifters (me!)
Need a complete gym to do this at home
Not a fan of the guillotine press
A couple of clarifications on these pros and cons…
I list the “guillotine press” as a con in this program. While I’ve listened to Sal, the creator of this program, describe the benefits of this lift, I think it’s irresponsible to program it here.
It would be best to have a trainer there ready to spot this lift. And even then, the benefits don’t come close to the risk. I substituted weighted pushups with my hands placed just outside shoulder width and further forward, about neck level.
I do not recommend performing this movement by yourself.
I also want to continue to bug the guys at Mind Pump about their instructional videos. While it’s nice to have Sal back in the videos this time, his value doesn’t come from his looks alone.
To have him in the videos and not use verbal coaching cues throughout the video is, in my opinion, a huge miss. Instead, we have the same old written list.
Please, please, please get rid of the awful music and start giving training cues again like you used to! All three of you are superb trainers, and you are missing out on a huge opportunity to make these videos really great.
How To Get The Most Out of MAPS Anabolic Advanced
Even though I struggled with this program, I was able to identify a few tips that will benefit anyone who decides to take this program on.
Leave Two In The Tank
While this is noted within the program itself a few times, it bears repeating.
Back way off on the weight you are using.
Because the propensity for injury increases exponentially the more fatigued you get, it’s critical to follow this rule.
If a movement calls for ten reps, you should be able to do all 10 with perfect form and still be able to do two more after you stop.
Failure Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means
90% of all lifters think training to failure means pushing the bar until you need help getting it back on the rack.
Never do that.
What the term “failure” means in this context is to perform a movement with perfect form until your form starts to break. As soon as the tiniest part of your form breaks, that’s failure.
If you have to cheat each movement to finish the prescribed reps, you’re gonna have a bad time.
Take the Deload Weeks
The guide to MAPS Anabolic Advanced details what to look for to know you need a deload week.
Follow that advice!!!
No, I mean it. Follow it!
Too many tough guys and gals will ignore this section completely. And they will do it at their own peril.
This program will push you very hard. There’s a reason that deloads are programmed in. You will continue gaining strength during the deload week, and your first week back will also significantly improve.
Mind Your Nutrition and Electrolytes
While there are a lot of folks out there who like to train fasted (I’m one of them), I wouldn’t recommend it with this program.
You know yourself better than I do but keep in mind that this program aims to build strength and muscle.
It’s not a weight loss program.
Fueling yourself appropriately for this type of training will accelerate your muscle growth and give your body the fuel you need to complete some of the longer workouts without hitting the wall.
I’d also highly recommend adequate sodium and electrolyte intake. Personally, I love using LMNT (watermelon and raspberry are really good!). You can use whatever works for you, but do use something!
While I won’t be running through MAPS Anabolic Advanced again any time soon, that doesn’t mean that younger, stronger, and more resilient people won’t love it.
If you are genuinely an advanced lifter, this program is something you’ll enjoy and benefit from.
MAPS Anabolic Advanced FAQ
What does MAPS stand for?
“MAPS” stands for Muscular Adaptation Programming System. In other words, your muscles (and you) are adaptation machines. Knowing how to manipulate and promote that adaptation is the key to great programming.
Can I do MAPS Anabolic Advanced in a home or garage gym?
Yes, but you’ll need a full gym setup to do it. See the list of needed gear above to see everything you need in your garage gym to do MAPS Anabolic Advanced at home.
How long does each session in MAPS Anabolic take?
For me, the longest sessions ran close to two hours, with the average sessions sitting at just over an hour.
Can I run MAPS Anabolic Advanced repeatedly as my only program?
No. This is not a good idea. At the very least, I’d alternate with either MAPS Performance or MAPS Symmetry.
Running this advanced program repeatedly is sure to cause overtraining and overuse injuries.
MAPS Anabolic Advanced - Is It Too Advanced?
If you are an advanced lifter... Truly advanced (you've been weight training consistently for a couple of years at least)... You'll love this program. If you aren't, then you won't. MAPS Anabolic Advanced requires a good deal of stamina and work capacity to do effectively.
Course Provider: Organization
Course Provider Name: Mind Pump Media
Course Provider URL: https://www.mindpumpmedia.com/
- Full program access through the Kajabi app
- Detailed Instruction
- Forum available for questions & form feedback (additional cost)
- Over 100 instructional videos
- Well-designed and produces consistent results
- Advanced techniques not found in other programs
- Deload programmed in for you
- 2 days of mobility programmed in
- Great for advanced lifters
- No tracking built into the app
- Cheesy, loud music over the videos
- No verbal instruction in the videos
- Too much for some lifters (me!)
- Need a complete gym to do this at home
- Not a fan of the guillotine press
- No regressions for major movements