Jeff Anderson’s Optimum Anabolics Body Building Program: A Review
I’ve been looking forward to reviewing Jeff Anderson’s Optimum Anabolics body building program ever since I reviewed his excellent Homemade Supplement Secrets some time ago. Jeff, of course, is a former U.S. Military fitness trainer, and is a guy who undoubtedly knows his stuff. Now that you know who he is, let’s take a closer look at the Optimum Anabolics program…
The first thing that should be noted—and Jeff points this out very early on in the publication—is that you need to read the whole publication. All of it. Cover to digital cover. Or you will miss some critical material. Having been through the whole thing myself, I can confirm that this is true. So don’t skip ahead. Take your time, and read every word.
What is the crux of this bodybuilding program? A combination of “hyper-adaptive cycling” and the manipulation of 7 anabolic factors….
- Rest cycles
- Hyper Adaptive Cycling
- Bodypart training frequency
- Training session length
- Exercise selection and form
- Number of Sets and Reps
- Repitition speed
According to Jeff, the manipulation of these 8 factors allows you to…
“… to create the perfect anabolic environment you’ll provide the right stimuli to thrust your body’s natural growth systems into overdrive for as long as you wish… with no plateaus.”
And that’s really what this program is designed to do; provide you with the tools you need so you’re always moving forward, never stagnating. To better understand what you’re in for on the Optimum Anabolics program, let me provide a little more information about each of the anabolic factors (in the book, each factor receives its own chapter)…
1. Hyper Adaptive Cycling: This is the only element of the diet that cannot easily be summarized into a couple of sentences. In a nutshell, it’s ensuring your body stays at the ideal level of training “stress” for growth—avoiding both the dangers of over-training and undertraining and putting into place certain protocols so…
“… your body actually OVER-ADAPTS to the demands you place on it by calling upon certain defense mechanisms.”
Your training is one of the protocols you manipulate (you go on 3-week cycles—first a “progressive load phase”, followed by a hyper-adaptive cycle) as well as protein consumption. Yes, you’ll actually reduce protein consumption on this diet—every 6 weeks, you’ll adopt a low protein diet, limiting protein to 30 grams per day. According to Jeff this causes a “distress signal from your muscles” that naturally ramps uip production of testosterone, IGH-1, and growth hormone.
This goes against everything I know about building muscle, so I was curious to know upon what reputable data Jeff made this assertion. More on this in a moment.
2. Body Part Training Frequency: Not surprisingly, this program is specifically designed to ensure each body part has plenty of time to rest, recover and heal before the next training session. On the Optimum Anabolics program, that means you’ll train each body part only once per week (there’s one exception; abdominals, which you train twice.).
3. Training session length: Training sessions are limited to 60 minutes maximum. Again, no surprises here. After 60 minutes, levels of testosterone and GH begin to fall and cortisol (a catabolic stress hormone) begin to rise. To get the most out of your sessions therefore, you’ll be performing a lot of supersets. These often combine isolation and compound exercises in that order; the isolation exercise “pre-exhausts” the larger muscle group, which is then “hit” much harder in the subsequent compound exercise.
4. Exercise selection and form: This is actually a fairly lengthy chapter as Jeff discusses the importance of chosing the absolute best compound exercises to be used in conjunction with the most effective isolation exercises (a complete listing of both is provided for all body parts).
The idea here is to “pre-exhaust” a major muscle group with an isolation exercise first, and then follow it up with a compound exercise (i.e., dumbbell flyes followed by flat bench press).
Jeff also the discusses the importance of “form” and how it’s much more important to perform the exercise properly, than to load up the weight stack just for the sake of your ego.
This is doubly important for this program. Since you’re performing so many supersets, you will probably need to dramatically reduce the amount of weight you would typically use for an exercise.
5. Number of Sets and Repititions: Training is recommended in the 8-15 rep range. During the progressive load phase of the program you add one more set for each exercise every week of the cycle. During the hyper-adaptive phase, you’ll decrease the number of sets you perform.
6. Repetition speed: In order to effectively target both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers, Jeff recommends one-to-two seconds on the concentric phase of the exercise (on the bench press, the concentric element of the exercise is pressing the bar up from your chest) and 4 seconds on the eccentric phase (on the benchpress, the eccentric phase is lowering the bar back to your chest).
7. Rest cycles: Two things discussed: the importance of getting your rest (i.e. 7-8 hours per night) and the importance of the rest periods that vary in length according to where you are on the program.
8. Diet: Most of the remainder of the Optimum Anabolics manual is dedicated to your diet program. For the most part, it’s pretty sound stuff…
- Eat 5-6 meals per day.
- Consume 2-3 protein shakes per day to ensure adequate protein consumption.
- Consume slightly more than a gram of protein for each pound of lean body mass.
- Restrict fat consumption to “good” poly and monounsaturated sources.
- Eat low glycemic carbs throughout the day.
- Consume 100 grams of high-glycemic carbs after your workouts.
- Comsume highly bioavailable protein after your workouts.
There are, however, some elements of the Opimum Anabolics diet program that are a little more controversial. I’m referring to the protein cycling that I discussed briefly a little earlier. For instance, a normal 3-week cycle on this diet is based on the 1.14 grams/per pound of Lean Body Mass and is considered a “high” protein diet.
When you begin the 24-week cycle, you will have two 3-week periods where you consume “normal” levels of protein, followed by one 3-week cycle where you consume only 30 grams of protein per day, followed by a 3-week cycle where you go back to your regular protein consumption, except you add one additional high-protein meal (30 grams or so) to your diet.
The idea is that once you re-introduce adequate levels of protein back into your diet after a period of restriction, your body will over-compensate for the period of protein depletion, sucking up aminos like crazy and building muscle at an accelerated rate. In Optimum Anabolics, Jeff also claims the period of protein depletion also triggers a massive release of testosterone, IGH-1, and growth hormone, resulting in a powerful anabolic state.
What’s the problem with all this?
Although the idea of protein cycling is not new, no one has ever been able to demonstrate the claimed “biochemical shifts” actually results in more pounds of muscle added, or gains in strength than doing things the old fashioned way. You know—eating a smart diet with sufficient protein ALL the time.
In other words, there is no clinical, peer-reviewed data to validate this theory. It is at best, a combination of speculation and anecdotal evidence—although I can honestly say I’ve never actually come across much in the way of anecdotal evidence myself.
When I checked in with our scientific and technical advisor Elissa, she confirmed that this was the case, and then informed me…
“IGF-1 levels are known to be responsive to increases in protein intake (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 81, No. 6, 1442-1448, June 2005).
But the kicker is, protein restriction is known to DECREASE IGF-1.This is one of the reasons it’s viewed (in conjunction with calorie restriction) as an anti-aging, life-extension, anti-cancer therapy (see here and here for some insights. So I don’t see how protein manipulation will help, since the increase in hormones with repletion will be counteracted by the drop with depletion.”
Obviously then, I can’t say I “buy” into the whole protein cycling “thing”, or the subsequent spiking of critical hormones when protein levels are depleted. The onus is on Jeff to demonstrate the scientific validity of his claims, and he has not done so.
And that’s too bad, because otherwise, this is a pretty solid program. I’ve been thinking about shaking up my training regimen for a while now, and I really like the idea of a fast, intense wortkout that super-sets isolation and compound exercises together for maximum results. It’s a little different than what I’ve been doing recently and might be a nice change. I’ll follow all of Jeff recommendations save the protein cycling—for reasons just discussed. Personally, I think the program will be even more effective without the period of protein deprivation.
What do you get with the Optimum Anabolics program? With my version I got a series of downloadable PDF files, plus an added software bonus…
- The Optimum Anabolics program manual.
- The Optimum Anabolics workout manual (includes printable workout tables and tracking documents—you’ll definitely need a 3 ring binder for this program).
- The Optimum Anabolics “specialization” workout manual.
- The Anabolic Growth Tracker (a simple (appears to be excel based) tracking tool).
- The BodyFat Calculating manual: Complete tables and instructions on how to calculate your bodyfat percentage.
All in all, I really like Jeff’s program—save for the whole protein cycling thing—and it delivers pretty decent value. When I experiment with the program, I won’t be implementing the protein restriction element of the diet, although you are free to do so if you like. Just remember that there’s no real evidence to validate these claims.