We all know Jim – or all of us should know Jim, at least. Jim Stoppani is a man that prefers to follow the science when it comes to fitness, proving once and for all that the amount of tattoos you have means nothing.
But has he really found the “shortcut” to strength? Let’s see what’s up with his Shortcut to Strength Program.
About the Creator – Jim Stoppani
As mentioned before, Jim Stoppani is a dude that’s just covered with tattoos from head to toe. Now, this doesn’t really tell you anything about him, but it does make identifying him a lot easier.
Jim is actually a doctor in exercise physiology with a minor in biochemistry, which he received from the University of Connecticut. He then went on even further to research the implications of training and diet on muscle tissue.
Safe to say Jim is motivated by science.
Jim then became one of the most influential fitness personnel on the planet. In fact, most people have at least seen one or two of the videos he himself made – or inspired.
He’s one of the GOATs when it comes to fitness and Bodybuilding.com. Among his many workouts on the BodyFit platform are:
Jim also experienced amazing accomplishments in his life. Besides having various articles posted on numerous websites, he also did the following:
- Wrote the Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength
- Co-wrote LL Cool J’s Platinum 360 Diet and Lifestyle, Stronger Arms & Upper Body, and Nutritional Needs of Strength/Power Athletes
- Creator of the Platinum 360 Diet and the diet in Mario Lopez’s Knockout Fitness program
- Founded the highly successful JYM Supplement Science company
Jim is massively respected in the strength and fitness world for his consistency when it comes to science. Jim isn’t swayed by fad diets or chasing clout. Instead, he’s focused on creating content that’s factual and accurate.
Needless to say, I’m expecting a lot from his program…
Shortcut to Strength Overview
As most people know, the measurement of strength is through the three main lifts: squat, bench, and deadlift.
While the Shortcut to Strength plan is certainly aimed at increasing those three lifts, it should also be mentioned that Jim is adamant that your entire body will get stronger, and you might get fitter as well.
- Fitness level: Advanced
- Duration: 6 weeks
- Workouts per week: 4 workouts per week
- Average workout duration: 60 minutes
- Equipment needed: Full gym
- Goal: Gain strength
The program is split into three distinct phases, and Jim really emphasizes that this plan is not for pure beginners. You should be comfortable with the three lifts, as you’ll be spending a lot of time and effort doing those.
While you’ll have specific days focusing on the specific movements (squat, bench, and deadlift), you’ll also be doing some other workouts – such as the power and dynamic movement days on Saturdays.
Shortcut to Strength by Jim Stoppani Details
As mentioned before, the program is split into phases. Each phase will differ from the previous by increasing the loading and rep scheme.
Phase 1: 80% 1RM
If you see the term “80% of 1RM,” it should tell you the central movement of that day will be loading 80% of your one rep max for reps. This means if your one rep max is 100lbs, you should be loading 80lbs and pushing that for reps.
The first phase serves a few purposes, such as:
- Setting up your biomechanics for the movements you will be doing. This may seem like a small factor, but in reality, the more you do something, the more likely you are to be better at it.
- Improving your cardiovascular fitness. This will allow you to increase your threshold for longer sets, which could come in the following phases.
- Analyzing the amount of volume you can do. Then, you need to apply this.
The very first workout falls in with quite a high volume: 11 sets for quads, 9 for hamstrings/glutes, and 6 for calves. This may seem like a huge amount, but that’s actually pretty much on par with what strength athletes do.
Now, this does grant you the ability to gauge how much volume you can handle and what you can recover from.
Jim does not state it, but it’s implied that you should adjust volume as necessary. For instance, a more experienced lifter might need more volume, whereas a newbie might need less.
You’ll start the training days with the main movement in question and then move on to the assistance movements needed to improve said lift. This is a carbon copy of what powerlifters do, but with one difference – Saturdays.
Saturdays are focused on “power,” where speed and intensity are the keys to success. Jim wants you to move as quickly as you can. This could aid in recovery if you’re not using heavy weights and could help in keeping you cardiovascularly fit.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a nutrition plan for each phase but only one that covers them all. In a phase like this, where volume is slightly higher, you’d want to avoid being in a deficit to manage the cumulative fatigue you experience.
Rest days are exactly that. Jim advises you to go heavy enough that you wouldn’t want to do anything else on rest days but rest.
Phase 2: 85% 1RM
With an increase in the loading, you’ll see a decrease in the rep scheme from 8 reps to around 5 – 6 reps – but only for the main lift. This is because accessory movements need to be overloaded, sure, but the focus is the main lift of the day.
The main factor of each workout will be the main lift. That’s why you’re doing that movement before the other exercises. This is also why Jim suggests you take longer rests between sets.
There is a lot of science to suggest that longer rests between sets could yield better strength and hypertrophy results. Jim advocates that you take at least 2 minutes between sets to allow your ATP to recover.
ATP or adenosine triphosphate is the main energy system of the body for higher-intensity activity, which is exactly what this heavy lifting is about.
There’s a definite drop in volume in this phase compared to phase 1, which is exactly what’s expected. You’d still want to eat enough to grow new muscle, but since the workouts are getting harder, you might want to partition your carbs around your workout to manage the acute stress.
Saturdays are still focused on full-body training that could help with recovery and aid in cardiovascular fitness. This is maybe because you don’t do any other cardio on this plan.
Phase 3: 95% 1RM
Ah, the big one. If you haven’t pooped your pants by now, it’s probably best to have an extra pair of undies with you when you go lifting.
That said, you might need a few bags of gummy bears as well. See, Jim wants something so insane that it’ll probably require you to release some inner demons.
“Use a weight that is approximately 95% of your one-rep max.
5 sets, 2 reps (rest 4 min.)”
I’m sorry, what?!
To give you some clarity, this means you have to basically take your one rep max and do 10 reps on it in total over the course of 30 minutes.
Bench, maybe. Squats and deads? I’ll pray for you.
This also identifies one of the “biggest” problems with strength training, in general. It takes a long time. Remember, there are still 21 other sets after the squats. So this session is going to last you a long time, especially if you squat more than 400lbs.
Surprisingly, the volume doesn’t really change from phase 2 to phase 3… This could mean that your recovery management needs to be even better as time goes on.
Shortcut to Strength certainly is not for newbies or someone who “just likes to gym.” You have to be able to say “no” to parties to be able to do all the work necessary.
As far as nutrition in the final phase goes, just eat all the carbs. All of ‘em. You’ll need it for recovery and glycogen.
You’ll also still need to apply everything you can to try and recover. This means:
- Sleeping more than 8 hours per night
- Trying to avoid stress as much as you can
- Staying fully hydrated at all times
- Partitioning more of your carbs around your workout to lower the cortisol from workouts
3 Shortcut to Strength Pros
- Highly scientific: As expected from Jim, this plan is on par with those of professional powerlifters, and while it’s incredibly short, it does follow the same structure. That said, it can still be used by non-powerlifters.
- Great Nutrition plan: As Jim is very prolific in the dieting and nutrition world, the nutrition department is covered to the T. This has been designed for strength athletes and doesn’t have a compromise for body composition – which is what you want.
- Timing: With only three sessions per week, this could be ideal for someone who hasn’t got the time to go to the gym every day. This is great, however…
3 Shortcut to Strength Cons
- Timing: While there are only a few sessions per week, the sessions are incredibly long. This makes it inaccessible to those who don’t have the time to sacrifice for such long lifting sessions.
- Very reliant on supplements: Bodybuilding.com and Jim are both “businesses,” so it would make sense that there’s a big push to use as many supplements as you possibly can. (Vince Sant, is that you?) For the average gen pop, this won’t be necessary. And it would’ve been nice to see sections for what’s necessary based on your experience.
- It’s tougher than meets the eye: Most people will survive the first phase. Some might get through phase 2, but very few, if any, will make it past phase 3. Towards the end of this program, the workouts get brutal, in which case people with fewer than 2 years of lifting experience will suffer greatly. It’s definitely not impossible but make sure you have (several) spotters.
Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Strength – Final Thoughts
Jim is a gem in the fitness world because of his honesty. He has a no sh*ts given attitude and follows science, facts, and empirical evidence. This makes his programs very calculated and, in this case, quite hard.
The program is certainly not perfect; in fact:
- It’s so hard that most people won’t be able to finish it.
- The sessions are extremely long. (Most people don’t believe the “powerlifters take naps between sets” memes – they’re all true.)
This makes the plan unavailable to some, like those who are just getting into fitness or strength training. For those people, Jim mentioned the other “Shortcut to” programs he’s already created as an introduction.
This might be a good idea because you’ll also learn those oh-so-important recovery skills that you’ll undoubtedly need while attempting this program.
That said, Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Strength Program delivers on what it says it does.
It is a strong plan with zero concern for anything else but loads on the bar. Jim does a great job of taking high-level nutrition and training protocols and incorporating them into a normal program.
If you feel you’re up to the challenge, this plan will grant you massive gains.
Just invest in a lifting belt prior.
And maybe buy stocks in gummy bears…
Rating: 4.0 out of 5