Athlean-X (Jeff Cavaliere’s fitness brand) and Jim Stoppani (of JYM Supplement Science) are living proof that brains and brawn do mix.
But between the former physical therapist for the Mets and the inked-up personal trainer with a Ph.D. in exercise physiology, who has better fitness advice — Athlean-X or Jim Stoppani?
Who/What is Athlean-X?
Athlean-X is the pet project of former New York Mets physical therapist (‘06–’08), CSCS, and personal trainer to elite-level athletes — Jeff Cavaliere.
What started as a YouTube channel back in ‘09 has since evolved into a $10+-million a year online training platform. Athlean-X now has a roaring YouTube presence (over two billion views to date) and widely shared blog posts unraveling the “truth” about training.
With more than a dozen programs for hard-gainers to washed-up college athletes and a biomechanics edge leaching from Cavaliere’s educational background, Athlean-X is nothing short of a modern marvel when it comes to reliable fitness advice.
4 Benefits of Athlean-X
- Leans on Cavaliere’s physical therapist background. Cavaliere’s biomechanics expertise and experience rehabbing injured athletes is the real Athlean-X difference. His anti-upright row stance, understanding of untrained muscles (nothin’ a face pull can’t fix), and alternative exercises take the injury risk out of training (sort of).
- Doubles down on the perfect form. Cavaliere’s mind is always in perfect form, whether it’s an Athlean-X program with 200 “new” exercises or a free core workout on YouTube. He either includes a demo video breaking down the move or casual tips — like tucking in your elbows during chest-supported rows to activate the lats.
- Leaves “bro-science” in the rearview. Jeff Cavaliere doesn’t just not stuff bro-science concepts into his Athlean-X programs. He also blatantly calls out nonsense theories like wearing garbage-bag suits to burn more fat or benching with your feet on the bench.
- Clearly explains the biomechanics of exercise. It’s not an Athlean-X video without Cavaliere pulling out a marker, drawing muscle fibers on himself, or showing a digital anatomical diagram to explain an exercise and its equipment. If you want to learn the “how” and the “why” to parrot the advice, Cavaliere is your guy.
4 Reasons Against Athlean-X
- Blocks most of his advice (workouts) behind paywalls. Jeff Cavaliere has more than enough free workouts and training tips to rope you into the Athlean-X family. But the complete advice comes in the form of paid programs — some of which only provide 120 days of access. This leaves many would-be Athlean-X users empty-handed.
- Disregards macronutrients and calories. Most Athlean-X programs pair up with the now-infamous X-Factor meal plan. But although this thing’s loaded with dozens of healthy meals with Size and Shred Swaps to customize your diet, there’s absolutely no mention of calories or macronutrients. Basically, “eat healthily.”
- Posts clickbait videos. This one is actually the #1 grip amongst Athlean-X die-hards. Athlean-X’s YouTube thumbnails and video titles are extremely clickbait-y (i.e., 7 Exercises I Swear I’ll NEVER Do Again!) but contain extremely useful information. We can’t help but wonder whether Cavaliere is on the verge of becoming a sell-out, mainstream fitness personality desperate for clicks vs. a trusted source.
- Possibly uses fake weights in his videos. You knew we couldn’t finish the Athlean-X section without mentioning this. There’s nothing wrong with loading the bar up with fake plates to impress the online universe (if he did). But when your whole brand is anti-bro-science and ego-lifting, it’s a bit contradictory to flaunt fake gains.
Who is Jim Stoppani?
Doctor Jim Stoppani is the founder of JYM Supplement Science, co-author of the Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength (the big-daddy of fitness industry literature), and personal consultant for stars like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and LL Cool J.
With a Ph.D. in exercise physiology and as a former research fellow at Yale University School of Medicine, Stoppani is one of the most well-educated fitness personalities of the modern era.
He’s brewed up more than half a dozen training programs on the BodyFit platform, including his infamous “Shortcuts” series for fast results. But he’s also an advice-giving fiend via his YouTube channel and official blog, where newbies and intermediates gather to hear his wisdom.
4 Benefits of Jim Stoppani
- Backs up his claims with supporting research. Jim Stoppani doesn’t just talk about the latest research. He also cites his references, simplifies what the study reveals, and points you to the actual research to read it for yourself. If he doesn’t, you can count on his educational and research training to give you an honest take.
- Dispels nutritional and training myths. A modern-day myth-buster, Stoppani dedicates his YouTube videos and blog posts to uncovering the truth. He’s cracked down on incorrect beliefs about hot topics like protein, creatine, sodium, periodization, and body recomposition.
- Explains difficult concepts in newbie-friendly terms. Don’t let his fancy doctorate degree fool you. Stoppani’s blog and “Shortcut to…” series are stuffed full of easy-to-understand concepts, like the difference between low vs. high-glycemic foods, the safety of caffeine, and unconventional training styles like drop sets.
- Provides insight on various training goals. Stoppani’s website is a goldmine of advice for every imaginable training goal. He includes in-depth guides and periodization programs for losing fat, building muscle, and getting shredded. When you graduate to an intermediate level or want to switch to HIIT, there are resources for that, too!
4 Reasons Against Jim Stoppani
- Recommends higher protein requirements. When he’s not obsessively bragging about his own supplement line, he’s rattling off some … questionable nutritional advice. For instance, he recommends 1–1.5g of protein per pound of body weight to build muscle, which is well-above industry standards.
- Suggests candy after a workout. On a similar point, Stoppani actually recommends re-fueling with gummy bears or other candy high in dextrose, corn syrup, or glucose after a workout. The logic makes sense, but calling it the “key to results” is probably an overstatement.
- Resorts to B.S. clickbait with his “shortcut” talk. Calling his programs the “shortcut” to size, shred, whatever is at the very least misleading. The three-phase, six-week “Shortcut to Shred” program likely won’t get you shredded the first time around unless you’re already three-quarters of the way there.
- Pushes his supplement brand non-stop. It’s not a Jim Stoppani article, video, or workout without a shameless promotion of his own supplement brand. He’s also landed himself in a bit of a legal bind, with Bodybuilding.com disputing ownership of the JYM brand and another lawsuit over his claims that he had the only non-proprietary blend protein on the market.
Athlean-X vs Jim Stoppani Conclusion
Between Athlean-X (or Jeff Cavaliere) and Jim Stoppani, both are solid sources of fitness information and reveal the inconvenient truth about nutrition and training.
But we have to hand it to Jeff Cavaliere. Although his educational experience isn’t as robust as Stoppani’s, his unique approach to training and minimal “hmm” moments make him the more reliable of the two fitness gurus.