T-Muscle’s(T-Nation) Anaconda Protocol: A No-BS Assessment

In case you haven’t noticed, T-Muscle released their highly anticipated Anaconda™ Protocol (do not fear, I ­repented to the internet gods for linking to them) at the end of November.  If you’re familiar with this whole project, you know it’s been in the works for quite some time now.  If you know nothing of what I’m writing about today, take a look at my I, Bodybuilder rebuttal from August to better understand today’s composition.  Matt Perryman already shared his thoughts – check it out.

To give you a brief synopsis of what we’re pondering today, allow me to outline exactly what this protocol is.  First of all, this whole marketing scheme claims to be aimed at advanced bodybuilders but if you take a quick stroll through the T-Nation forums, you will notice the majority of their customer base is the naïve, young(er) population who are beginners at best.  Now, there is nothing wrong with being a beginner, but when you market a one-shot cure for their skinny asses and it costs $345 for a month’s worth of product, I’ve got a problem.

Accidental Experiment – Yea, Right

As you read the article, it’s almost like reading a comic book.  You’re led to believe that Christian Thibaudeau had been overtraining and feeling a like a sack of shit. It goes on to state that he got his first shipment of the Anaconda™ and immediately put it to good use.  Then you read this:

So, how quickly was Christian pulled out of his overreaching, overtrained, zombie-like funk?

Forget that… How many times did he need to use the ANACONDA™ protocol before he felt recharged?

How about one time !?!

Christian literally used the new ANACONDA™ protocol just one time, and the very next morning he woke up completely pain free. Not only that, he was antsy to go hit the weights. That day, he trained three times, again, pain-free and full of energy each time.

The second day he trained 4 times. And over the following week, he, as well as everyone in the gym, saw huge gains in his physique. His physique was substantially fuller with rounder muscle bellies and even though his body weight had gone up, he was significantly leaner.

Since then, he’s been training 3 and even 4 times per day, 5 and 6 days a week, and loving every minute.

He was then “interviewed” and explains how he was in so much pain from all the overtraining, but once he took Anaconda, the cure was magical.  As you further investigate the article, you will notice his review of the product and his humble commentary.

“I’ve gone off the ANACONDA™ preparation several times and failed miserably when training like this. Without the ANACONDA™ mixture, I feel totally vulnerable to the effects of overreaching and inflammation. And my gains, although good, aren’t anything near what I get when using ANACONDA™ Anabolic Load and MAG-10® Anabolic Pulse.

“There’s something else you should know… I make nothing — not one cent — off ANACONDA™ sales. I can’t be bought, anyway. Supplement sales are not my business. I’ll leave that to the formulation geeks like Tim Patterson. I make a great living building muscle — big muscle — on elite-level athletes.

How about that for an endorsement?

The Working Out Part

In short, if you read the first part of the article, they roughly suggest training 3 times per day, 5-6 days per week.  You will also notice there has been no training routine laid out as of writing this.

But all of that aside, let’s be real here; who has time for this much training?  If you do, you need to find some other hobbies, get a job, and move out of your parents’ basement.

No one and I mean no one will be able to train intensely 3 times per day, 5-6 days per week for any substantial period of time.  I don’t care if you are juiced to the gills; you’ll eventually burn out and have to recover at some point.  But how does one recover if they are training all the time?  It’s simple; they don’t.­­­   The Anaconda Protocol is a far cry from using anabolic steroids, so I can assure you that anyone who tests out the protocol as laid out will run themselves so far into the ground within a matter of weeks.  Let’s take a quick look at what’s included in this wondrous concoction.

What’s In The ANACONDA Protocol?

Click the image for a full view.

Before I go into the ingredient list, I must say Alan Aragon did a hell of a job breaking down each individual ingredient used in Anaconda and Mag-10, so if you want all the nerdy details, I highly suggest subscribing to his research review*.

Casein hydrolysate – The idea behind this type of protein is a faster rate of digestion in hopes flooding the bloodstream with amino acids rather quickly.  The main premise is to kick start the anabolic process as soon as possible.  Too bad the recent studies prove otherwise.  According to Lyle McDonald’s research review on this particular protein, it digests too quickly and heads straight to the gut as opposed to skeletal muscle.  Excerpt from Lyle’s review:

Here’s what the study found.  Over the time course studied (8 hours after ingestion), the hydrolyzed casein product showed greater losses from digestion (that is, less was absorbed).  As well, a greater amount of the hydrolysate was oxidized for energy through deamination (a process by which the amino group is stripped off the carbon backbone).  Finally, a larger amount of the casein hydrolysate was used by the splanchnic bed (gut and intestines) with significantly less of the total protein reaching the bloodstream or peripheral tissues (muscles)

Citrulline malate – There isn’t too much to say about this one but Alan made a funny point in the AARR.  There’s been only one study conducted to test its effect on human muscular performance.  The conclusive point was that it gives you super, duper finger flexing powers.  If you’ve read the research review, you feel me on this one, haha.

Creatine pyruvate – This is simply another form of creatine with far fewer studies than its brother from another mother, creatine monohydrate.  In fact, there’ve been hundreds of studies on monohydrate and according to Alan, only 2 done on pyruvate.  So why didn’t they save some money and just put the plain monohydrate in there?  Silly T-Men!

Beta-alanine –While there are studies exhibiting positive performance benefits from this supplement, there are a few negative ones as well.  It’s still too early to know whether or not this will be another staple supplement such as creatine.  On a side note, if you’ve never tried this supplement, be careful with your first dose.  I got some free in the mail after I ordered a ginornmous box of recession whey from TrueProtein, so naturally, I tossed a few back before my training session.  If it’s free, I’ll TAKE IT!  I took too many, probably 2-3x the recommended dose – this was an accident, mind you.  Halfway through my workout, my skin got red and I got the itch like a cracked out homeless person.  So, if you decide to try this stuff out, slow yo’ roll.

‘Superhydrating Catalyst’ – What a fancy way of saying electrolytes!  Too bad you don’t lose a ton of water/electrolytes during a 40-50 minute bodybuilding workout.  I don’t really see a reason to include this supplement in the mix.

Alpha-GPC – The idea behind this supplement is to increase acetylcholine levels inside the muscle for an improvement in force production during resistance training.  According to the AARR, there’s only one unpublished study resulting in positive effects.

Intensified Liquid Flavoring – Don’t worry, it comes free with your purchase.  This is my favorite part of the entire concoction.  Because they decided to use the worst tasting protein ever, they claim you MUST use this flavoring system.  I’m sure it’s because they knew there would be no way a person could stomach it otherwise.

What Exactly Is the Protocol?

First, let’s look at the peri-workout consumption to get an idea of just how much food and liquid volume you’re consuming pre and peri-workout.  Exact guidelines are located here.

click image for full view

So, we’re choking down 3 protein bars for about 850 calories and 1 liter of the Anaconda cocktail.  Then, we’re expected to finish the remaining liter of said protein concoction during the rest of the training session.  The last time I drank a 2 liter of soda in an hour’s time, I can assure you that working out wasn’t even an option; that is unless I wanted to revisit my obsession with Mountain Dew.

What Are The Followers Saying?

I don’t frequent the T-Muscle boards much, if ever.  The only time I ever find myself over there is when I know of someone who’s participating in some mad trolling or if I catch some links from their threads on a forum I’m hanging around on.

However, a few days ago, I caught wind that a few of the folks on the protocol hitched a ride on the vomit comet.  Many of them reported their not-so-hot experience with drinking near 2 liters of liquid during their training sessions.  I managed to save some screen shots that Alan posted on Lyle’s support forum.  Let’s just say T-Muscle may be able to moderate their forums and delete posts at will, but they won’t be getting their hands on these (if they so decide to delete the originals).  CLICK HERE for a collection of forum posts from random Anaconda users.

You will see from these examples, stomach discomfort, queasiness, and vomiting seems to be common side effects of Anaconda.  One fellow even said he shat like a banshee afterward.

The Cost of Greatness

Finally, what does it cost to be this awesome?  How would you like to shell out $345 bucks a month for a silly stack of supplements and a fluid recommendation that’s sure to make you hurl and soil yourself in the process of getting jacked?

What if I told you that your money would be better spent on inexpensive protein, creatine monhoydrate and foods that actually taste good?  For what it’s worth, I can get a 25lb bag of protein for about $130, some creatine for $9 per pound (which will last you 3 months at 5g/day) and a sack full of potatoes for about $5.  In the above example, we’ve spent less than $150 and the supplements will last you for many months depending on how much whole food protein you are consuming.

In short, I feel the whole thing is rubbish.  People are actually buying this snake oil and the T-Men are laughing all the way to the bank.  It’s fine to make money, really it is, but please, at least make the product valuable and affordable.

*While I make money from affiliate links on my website and my articles, I am in no way compensated if you sign up for AARR.  I just love Alan and his work so much.  If you aren’t subscribed yet, you’re truly missing out on a ton of valuable information.  Heck, all you would have to do is drop 2 lattes a month.

December 12, 2009

  • Gus August 19, 2010

    man personally i just think some of these t nation guys are nuts… lol. especially that one guy named chris shugart who is known for the v diet if u guys read his blog you would probably understand what I’m saying…

  • Bateen May 30, 2010

    The reason protein can be so cheap is because it’s not quality protein. You pay for what you get, and when you buy cheap protein, you’re buying a blended product, which is ok, but not optimal. Creatine Monohydrate can cause gastro-intestinal problems but I noticed yours is the micronized version which is a minor plus as it reduces these risks. They use creatine pyruvate over monohydrate for a very simple reason, which is endurance. This disproves something else you said about how someone would be doing intense workouts. Pyruvate is a chemical produced in your body to give you energy. Creatine is also produced in your body and assists in making it so you don’t “feel the burn” as soon as you normally would, with the addition of added strength. Add more of each to your diet and you’re looking at a pretty solid workout. By the way, 5g of creatine a day isn’t very good. You should be taking 20g (4 servings which are 5g each) for 5-7 days. This is known as the “loading phase” of your creatine consumption. Then you go into the “maintenance phase”, and you’re looking at 10g a day (2 servings of 5g) for about 4 weeks (28 days). Then you stop taking the creatine for about 4 weeks, then you cycle right back on because your body becomes accustomed to the consumption and it loses its benefits. There’s my 2 cents.

    • Eric May 31, 2010

      Ok, I’m curious about the pyruvate here. I have seen how it supposedly helps with endurance BUT they really used high doses in some of the studies…some obscene amount and that amount isn’t in the protocol.

      Also, the other study I saw, was done with intense hand grip exercises where the set lasted 15sec…I don’t think many of the exercises sets in most muscle building routines last 15seconds. It seems like there is little proof this supp.

      As far as loading, you can use the protocol you mentioned, but if speed is an issue. You can saturate you body with creatine just the same by taking the 5g a day, after a month it’ll all be the same.

      Cycling is also unecessary if you are taking 5g a day at maintenance, 10g a day is not needed, 5g is enough for most people unless they are huge…say over 200lbs. There is some research of downregulation in animals but that can not be said for humans.

      I hope I didn’t butcher too much of the info I got a lot of it the from Lyle’s book, The Protein Book, it has a small section on lots of supps. Good resource.

  • Jason January 31, 2010

    In response to johnny amor he quoted Thib,

    “I was wondering, can you follow the program without the ANACONDA Protocol and still get good results?

    Yes you can, if you know how to autoregulate your training. Without ANACONDA you will not recover as fast and wont be able to tolerate as much volume. So it becomes even more important to avoid grinding reps.”
    …Now he says someone trying to sell something wouldn’t say this. However; you go the main page under guideliness for the protocol it CLEARLY says,

    “Without these two elements, all bets are off. In fact, according to Christian Thibaudeau, without both of these elements, you will get nothing more than mediocre results at best, and more likely fail:”

    …Element one, being the training. Element 2 being the anaconda protocol…
    T-Nation is the biggest money grabbing scammers I’ve seen to date. This is really nothing new from biotest looking to STEAL your money.

  • Iftheysayit Itmustbetrue January 24, 2010

    Will the Anaconda Supplements work better with X-Reps?

    • JC January 25, 2010

      yes, probably, well I dunno. look! a bird!

  • Frances January 21, 2010

    Nate Green’s dreams are being shattered.

  • Johnny Amor January 17, 2010

    It’s kind of funny that when you post on a board, and the content of your posts go against the opinion or vision portrait by the website who owns the forum, you’re suspected of trolling.
    I know t-nation is talking about anaconda like it’s a supplement you can’t do without, BUT you do the exact opposite, which is doubtfull as well. Saying a supplement does or doesn’t work based on a review of an article that says it does is and analysing the ingredients list is kind of tricky. You can be sceptic, off course, but you have to try and test it to give an accurit answer to the question or it is any use or not.
    Since I don’t really see that in your review your no bs assessment holds no more water then t-nation’s side of the story.

    The autoregulation part, well, I follow the t-nation board for a while now, including everything surrounding the I, bodybuilder program, and not one time someone has been claiming they invented the wheel. Not when talking about the perfect rep, not when talking about auto-regulation, never. So yes, it may sound like a theory you heard, read about somewhere else. That may be one of the sources or influences.

    The program also is not about training 3 times a day,six times a week. That was what C. Thibaudeau was doing at that time. No one ever said that the program would look like this.

    • Pyjammez January 18, 2010

      Actually TNation is always claiming they have reinvented the wheel with the most absurd “gains” testimonials you’ve ever seen!

      They haven’t reinvented any supplement, they have simply reinvented the marketing campaign for a supplement. Their claims are ridiculous, and when you look at the big picture, how many newbs are there who are going to fall for this and give these liars loads of money for a product in which “hype” is the only special ingredient.

      Just because some famous powerlifter says it works, doesn’t mean that it actually does work. Did you think BSN was the best 3 years ago and now Muscletech is? I don’t know which company has the Mr Olympia right now, but just because they say it’s the best it doesn’t mean it’s any better than the smallest supplement company out there who is selling the most effective products for cheap.

      I for one, and probably most of us here, have spent years trying to figure out the secrets to bodybuilding. We all thought supplements were the secret at one stage, but now that we’ve realised they aren’t, we want to help the beginners learn that too! But we have these huuuge info sites pretending they are an authentic, honest site, lying to convince the beginners that supplements are still the secret!!

      What kind of author is JC if he doesn’t ATTEMPT to tell the beginners that tnation is lying to them!

    • JC January 18, 2010

      okay, so let’s think about what you’re really saying here. You suggest that my analysis of the supplement is invalid because I have not shelled out $345 bucks to try this overpriced, over hyped product for “testing purposes.” Let’s just agree that I would rather spend my money on protein powder and lots of milk + kiddy cereal.

      I am not suggesting that the product doesn’t work because after all, it’s protein, carbs and candy bars. That constitutes as food and food does indeed build muscle when coupled with the right stimulus. What I was really getting at is that it’s NOTHING SPECIAL. Again, this is not a freakin’ streroid. The gains attributed to being on this protocol are completely ASININE. Can you not read between the lines and realize that there is no difference from taking some creatine, Gatorade, protein powder and snickers bars peri-workout and using Anaconda?

      About the training program. I know the training protocol finally came out; great, woohoo. The problem I have with the Anaconda article is that it only spoke about the way CT trained and how the Anabolic Anaconda worked on him. So what do you think this is going to cause a bunch of young newbs to do as a result? They’re going to order this crazy product, hit the gym way too frequently and waste their time and money.

      I’m sorry, but I care enough about people that I’d want to at least mention something like “hey, this is just what CT did and THIS IS NOT THE OFFICIAL PROGRAM so don’t be an imbecile and think you can workout and recover like a marvel comic superhero.”

      • Johnny Amor January 18, 2010

        I know you can’t go and test everything, certainly not when one’s charged with 345 bucks for a month supply of supplements. And I am going to be straight with you, I am not going to buy a shipment of this either. But in all honesty, you can only ultimately judge the product when you tried it and felt the difference or not.
        And in this reply you say that Anaconda could work, because it’s protein and carbs, but that wasn’t in the original text. There you stated that it was just plain rubbish. That is something that I noticed on this very subject; it is either the ‘it-works’ camp and the ‘this is bull’ camp. A more balanced vision is hard to come by. I know what t-nation is claiming is kind of doubtful, but when you read in to it more, they water things down and make it more believable. Like, Thibaudeau admitted gaining weight back. Like Patterson saying that the average lifter only will gain 10 to 15 pounds (not the 27 thib gained).
        Also the comparison between olympia winners and their weight to thibaudeau’s and after that comparison stating that it can’t be true is kind of awkward. Because never has been claimed that Thibaudeau, nor Nobert or Cosette were in contest shape when they weighted. Let’s face it, a lifter weighing 240, an advanced lifter, not in contest shape, is not that unbelievable.
        Also, on t-nation there’s never been said that what Thibaudeau did was the program, it was just an example.
        And about helping newbs; let’s face it, a lot of people want to look like a bodybuilder or at least like a fitness model, but how many people do really have the guts and the willpower to train the way they should for that goal? The majority doesn’t have that kind of discipline and mindset, so they are always going to look out for the ‘anaconda’s’. But blaming the site for selling is. Heck, they even say it is for advanced lifters, the whole program is.
        Besides all of that, they do spend a little more time on the program, shooting videos, making a whole program ready to watch and implement in your own training, then the average money hungry supplement company would. They could easily just write an article about the program, release the supplement and make money off it. Now they make a real effort to make everybody understand the program too. What is your opinion on that? On the way they make an extra effort on that? I’m not asking this to call you out, I’m genuine interested in your opinion.
        Thanks for your replies, it is good to discuss training and hypes like this. And thanks for not deleting not so positive replies from your site, like a lot of boards do ;)

        • JC January 18, 2010

          I called it rubbish because they are charging out the ass for something I can easily make for a lot less. Hell, I wouldn’t even recommend getting all of the ingredients in Anaconda. I would much rather have someone go buy some protein, creatine and a sack of potatoes. Then I would say start busting your ass in the weight room, eat enough and let everything else work itself out.

          And you said

          I know what t-nation is claiming is kind of doubtful, but when you read in to it more, they water things down and make it more believable.

          I believe you are probably describing all of the backpedaling on the various forums. Heck CT was even on Lyle’s board “defending himself.”

          if not what are you referring to?

          • Johnny Amor January 19, 2010

            Wow, was he? Can you post a link to that thread? That would be interesting to see/read.
            And I was indeed referring to the forum threads on anaconda, the perfect rep, etc. On the forum CT said he was partially gaining back weight that he lost prior to the program/protocol. But I was also referring to what I believe was Tim Patterson saying that one could gain up from 10 to 15 pounds (hopefully more he said, but everybody hopes to gain more everytime).
            But what do you think about the extra effort (thereby extra spending) on the videos and the program?

            • Johnny Amor January 19, 2010

              8. It worked… this is when I made most of my gains. To be fair, I had been dieting for several weeks and my weight had dropped from222- 225 down to 212-215. I actually got up to 242lbs using the protocol. So as I mentionned, some of it was regained muscle, some was water retention and some might have been fat.

              C. Thibaudeau on Lyle’s forum

  • Johnny Amor January 16, 2010

    The first phase of the I, Bodybuilder program is out. Shoulder spec phase. In the discussion page there’s this post about wheter you should use the protocol or not. I thought it is worth mentioning it. Here it is:
    LauriTheMaggot wrote:
    Wow! THANK YOU CT and all the rest working on this project! The Perfect Rep article has changed my workouts completely and I can’t wait to try this program.

    I was wondering, can you follow the program without the ANACONDA Protocol and still get good results?

    Yes you can, if you know how to autoregulate your training. Without ANACONDA you will not recover as fast and wont be able to tolerate as much volume. So it becomes even more important to avoid grinding reps.

    The typical answer for someone in it for the money would be: No, you can’t, anaconda is essential, otherwise you won’t progress.
    Besides that, anaconda is again brought as a recovery enhancer. Because of the better recovery, you can tolerate more volume, thereby stimulate the muscle more often and harder, therefore putting on more size.
    When you look at the weeklly program outlined, it is clear that you have to have something that enhances recovery, because the workoutweek is brutal.

    • JC January 16, 2010

      Hey Johnny,

      you are treating Anaconda like it’s a steroid. Have you looked at the label? There is nothing you could not pick up from alternate sources AND there is nothing that’s going to enhance recovery more so than a balanced diet would. You know why? Because there is nothing special in their proprietary mix. There are no anabolic agents to speed up recovery like you suggest.

      entertaining trolling, though.

      and the whole thing about autoregulating training… it sounds a lot like Mike Tuchscherer’s RTS philosophy.

  • Johnny Amor January 16, 2010

    Read your comment wrong, never mind my last comment.

  • Johnny Amor January 16, 2010

    So when you say someone has a trainwagon of knowledge, and is a well-respected coach, you’re making a saint out of someone?
    Making a saint out of someone is what people usually do at funerals.

  • Jimbob January 15, 2010

    ugh i feel the same…its Thib … i followed his yearly tranformation plan after 2 years of what i considered to be “serious” bodybuilding on my own and made the best gains ever this time as a natural – his advice has always been solid…
    but what now…wait and see i guess..

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