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With the fast growth of fitness and social media trends, online workout programs can sometimes get muddled with overly complicated programming, wild variations of simple exercises, and head-scratching jargon. While these can make for nice fads, I’m not much of a fan. I’ve been a competitive strength athlete for over 20 years now, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to keep things simple. If you want to build muscle, simply work on resistance training.

That’s one aspect that interests me about MAPS Anabolic, the foundational workout program made by Mind Pump Media. MAPS Anabolic is a bodybuilding program designed to help beginners and advanced lifters alike build muscle and get stronger through basic strength training exercises and simple concepts like progressive overload.

How does this program compare to other fitness programs? In our MAPS Anabolic review, we’ll go over this strength training program—where it succeeds and where it falls short—and tell you who might benefit most from a training program like this.

Testing Entire Programs To Give Expert Advice 

Our product tester, Amanda Capritto, CPT, CNC, CES, CF-L1, completed the MAPS Anabolic program in its entirety—just under 12 weeks worth of a program. This is pretty typical of our product testers and the GGR team while testing the best workout apps and other fitness equipment. Our team of certified personal trainers, lifelong athletes, and weightlifting coaches test products in their entirety, not overlooking one aspect. 

For online training programs like MAPS Anabolic, Amanda took note of several features of the program, including:

  • Program setup and ease of use
  • Level of instruction
  • Accountability and interactive features
  • Equipment demands
  • Workout variety
  • Overall value and pricing

MAPS Anabolic

MAPS Anabolic

GGR Score: 3.9 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • No subscription fees; buy once and you have lifetime access to the program
  • Carefully periodized programming
  • Come with a free “at-home mod” for people with minimal equipment
  • Traditional version requires a full gym setup

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Pay a one-time flat fee (no subscription required)
  • Simple online web portal
  • Comprehensive instruction and demo videos for all exercises
  • Broken up into smartly programmed phases

Cons

  • No app available (must use web browser)
  • No individualized programming

Bottom Line

MAPS Anabolic was created by a team that includes successful bodybuilders and personal trainers. It’s one of the best hypertrophy-focused resistance training programs available and doesn’t require a subscription to use.

A Quick Look at MAPS Anabolic

MAPS Anabolic is the first of many programs built by the four founders of Mind Pump Media: Adam Schafer, Sal Di Stefano, Justin Andrews, and Doug Egge. The four fitness experts created the Mind Pump Podcast, and then began offering workout programs.

MAPS is short for “muscular adaptation programming system,” which describes the majority of the programs created—periodized fitness programs, ranging from 4 to 16 weeks. Instead of a subscription service like many fitness apps, the Mind Pump guys offer their programs for a one-time price, ranging between $90 and $180. But that gives you lifetime access to the program.

A screenshot showing a training video on MAPS Anabolic.

In particular, MAPS Anabolic focuses on muscle growth through hypertrophy and progressive overload with common strength training exercises—bench press, squats, and deadlifts—mixed in with bodybuilding movements and calisthenics. The program lasts 12 weeks, and consists of two to three workouts per week.

Before You Buy

  • Specific to MAPS Anabolic are trigger sessions: 10-minute sessions done during your rest days. While completely optional, trigger sessions are supposed to help your body stay primed during your off days and produce better results over time.
  • Although this program is more expensive than most fitness apps’ monthly price, the one-time payment gets you lifetime access to the workout program.
  • Not looking for bodybuilding? You can peruse the other Mind Pump MAPS programs for options that can suit your needs better, whether it be cardio, mobility, athletic performance, or sculpting your body. Programs like MAPS Performance, MAPS Aesthetic, MAPS HIIT, or MAPS Prime might be more to your liking.

Is MAPS Anabolic Worth It?

With a one-time payment, MAPS Anabolic doesn’t bind you into a subscription service like many other programs and apps. Because of that, the $117 price tag is pretty appealing. Amanda Capritto, CPT, CNC, CES, CF-L1, rates the value of MAPS Anabolic at 4.5 out of 5, saying, “The value is phenomenal. You get lifetime access to all of the programs you buy; pay once and they’re yours forever. You really can’t beat that.”

A screenshot of the MAPS Anabolic home page.

While we felt the program was effective, MAPS Anabolic probably isn’t for everybody. For one, it doesn’t have the best user interface. And while the level of instruction is strong, there are no features to help keep athletes accountable. Basically the program is what you get, along with solid instruction.

If you know you need some accountability, or you prefer a more streamlined, user-friendly experience, then MAPS Anabolic may not be the ideal training platform for you. However, if you’re just looking for a great program for muscle-building, then this is a solid pick.

Great for:

  • Lifters looking to build muscle
  • Athletes wanting a program with full-body workouts
  • Those who prefer a one-time payment for a program over a subscription

Not recommended for:

  • People who need coaching or accountability from their program
  • Those who prefer a better ease of use from their online app or program
  • Anyone who wants individualized programming

MAPS Anabolic Specs

Price$117
Workout typeStrength training
Equipment neededSquat rack, barbell, dumbbells, resistance bands, adjustable weight bench
Program length12 weeks, 2-3 sessions per week
Program goalsBuild muscle, increase strength, boost metabolism
Platform availabilityNo app required, online portal

Using MAPS Anabolic 

Our product tester, Amanda Capritto, CPT, CNC, CES, CF-L1, tried out the entire MAPS Anabolic program for 12 weeks, and liked the foundational approach it took to strength training and building muscle. She was happy with the results, and saw significant gains in her strength, saying, “After following the MAPS Anabolic program to completion, I think it’s one of the very best online workout programs for building muscle.”

She adds, “As a personal trainer, I really appreciate the simplicity of MAPS Anabolic. If you want to try the latest crazy exercises, or spend a ton of time doing grueling HIIT workouts, this isn’t the program for you. But if you want to get really strong and pack on some serious muscle, this is definitely a solid choice.”

The program has a healthy mix of strength movements like the deadlift, bench press, squat, and overhead press, mixed with bodybuilding movements, like curls, rows, triceps extensions, and pull-ups. Reps will vary, but follow the concept of progressive overload, progressively adding weight to your exercises to produce the best results. Broken into four mini-cycles, the program lasts for a maximum of 12 weeks.

Instruction

While it’s not an app, one nice thing about the program is that the online portal still has access to a video library, providing deep instruction on each exercise and movement. Additionally, there are videos explaining each phase of the program in detail. Amanda rates the level of instruction a 4.5 out of 5, saying, “It’s very thorough and probably some of the best instruction you can get without actually hiring a personal trainer.”

Screenshot of a MAPS Anabolic detailed instruction video.

Workout Variety

With strength training programs, there’s going to be a level of sameness to it, as you’ll be progressively adding to loads, so you’ll revisit several exercises again and again. That said, MAPS Anabolic provides a good amount of variety within its program, combining traditional strength training with bodybuilding and calisthenic movements.

Screenshot of MAPS Anabolic workout outline.

Along with this, the equipment demands are fairly basic, requiring a simple garage gym setup or access to a commercial gym. However, each MAPS program comes with an “at-home” version for any user who has limited equipment. The MAPS Anabolic minimal equipment needs are just dumbbells, resistance bands, and an adjustable bench, leading Amanda to rate the equipment demands a 5 out of 5.

Ease of Use

This online workout program doesn’t have the formatting of a workout app, so navigating the online portal on your phone or tablet can be a little clunky, leading Amanda to rate the ease of use a 3 out of 5. She adds, “The web portal isn’t super intuitive, but it works…it could just be better.”

Screenshot shows a selection of pre-phase exercises in the MAPS Anabolic system.

The online portal lists the workouts and phases in folders to the side, which open up with exercises and demonstration videos. While it’s easy to get a little lost in the lists on the side, the program still allows you to navigate, even if it isn’t as smooth of sailing as other programs and apps.

Interactive Features

Aside from the program and the instructional videos, there isn’t much else for interactive features while using MAPS Anabolic. With the lack of features, there’s no support or accountability, so Amanda rated the interactive features a 2 out of 5, and the accountability a 3 out of 5. “You can download it, but no one’s gonna make you do it,” she adds. You have to be self-motivated to use a program like this.

MAPS Anabolic vs Caliber 

Caliber App

Caliber Strength Training

GGR Score: 4.68 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Strength training and nutrition app
  • Personalized, data-driven workout programs
  • Expert habit coaching
  • Free and paid versions
  • Private 1:1 coaching available
  • Weekly lessons, metric tracking, nutrition syncing

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Scientifically-based training plans
  • Individualized coaching for both fitness and nutrition with paid subscriptions is reported to be very thorough
  • Free version offers a library of curated workout plans
  • Reportedly easy-to-use

Cons

  • Personalized macronutrient goals only available with paid versions

Bottom Line

Caliber Strength Training is a fitness coaching program grounded in scientific principles designed to increase strength and improve body composition. The app offers both group and individual training plans which are written and modified by a certified coach based on progress.

One of our favorite workout apps and online personal trainers is Caliber. With three different versions of use, this app can be customized to your needs, either with a free version, paid group coaching, or a premium version which gets you matched with your own personal trainer.

Compared to MAPS Anabolic, both programs are solid and provide solid strength training. The main difference is the accountability. MAPS programs rely on you to do the work, while Caliber can help keep you motivated through notifications, as well as personal coaching. Caliber can also accommodate any equipment that you have at your disposal, whereas with MAPS Anabolic, you’ll need at least a basic equipment setup with dumbbells, bands, and a bench. While each program is a solid pick, which one would work best for you depends on the level of coaching or accountability you may want.

Read our Caliber app review for all of the details on this highly-rated app.

MAPS AnabolicCaliber Strength
Price$117Free, $19/month (group), starts at $200/month (personal training)
Workout typeStrength trainingStrength training
Equipment neededSquat rack, barbell, dumbbells, resistance bands, adjustable weight benchCan be customized to the equipment you have available
Program length12 weeks, 2-3 sessions per weekOngoing
Program goalsBuild muscle, increase strength, boost metabolismBuild muscle and strength, also can be personalized to your needs
Platform availabilityNo app required, online portaliOS and Android

Customer Experience 

An impressive feature that Mind Pump Media offers with their MAPS programs is a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. After trying the workout and program for a bit, if you’re not satisfied, you can get a full refund. Programs can be purchased directly from the website, and grant you access to their online portal and the respective program.

Screenshot showing overview of programs in the MAPS Anabolic training system.

In order to contact Mind Pump, there is a contact form as well as a live chat function on the website. With a solid money-back guarantee, we rated the customer experience a 4 out of 5.

Customer Reviews

As of right now, there are no customer reviews on Mind Pump Media, or on other review websites. We’ll check back regularly and update this section once we know what other people are saying about MAPS Anabolic.

Final Verdict of Our MAPS Anabolic Review

MAPS Anabolic keeps its programming simple with a mix of strength training, bodybuilding, and calisthenics. Following basic periodization and progressive overload, this workout program is built to help grow muscle mass and increase strength. 

While a solid program, any issues that may deter someone from the program come from the user experience more than anything. The interface is a little tough to navigate at times, and there are no features to help with accountability. However, if you are able to overlook these minor issues, this is a solid program with a huge bonus of having lifetime access from one purchase.

Full Rating

MAPS Anabolic

MAPS Anabolic was created by a team that includes successful bodybuilders and personal trainers. It’s one of the best hypertrophy-focused resistance training programs available and doesn’t require a subscription to use.

Product Brand: Mind Pump Media

Product Currency: $

Product Price: 117

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:
3.9

MAPS Anabolic Rating

Program Setup – 3
Ease of Use – 3
Accountability – 3
Instruction – 4.5
Equipment Demands – 5
Interactive Features – 2
Progressive Overload – 5
Workout Variety – 5
Value – 4.5
Customer Servicewwww – 4
Buy Now

MAPS Anabolic Review: FAQs

How long is the MAPS Anabolic program?

MAPS Anabolic can range from 9 to 11 weeks, with two or three workout sessions per week.

How much does MAPS Anabolic cost?

MAPS Anabolic costs a one-time payment of $117.

Can MAPS Anabolic be done at home?

MAPS Anabolic can be done at home with a basic home gym setup of a barbell, power rack, dumbbells, weight bench, and resistance bands. However, at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, MAPS programs were given minimal equipment versions that are free additions to anyone who already has the program.

How many days per week is the MAPS Strong program?

The MAPS Strong program incorporates strongman training into a strength training program. The program has three foundational workouts and two work sessions each week.

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