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Jim Stoppani’s 12 Week Shortcut to Size Review



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Jim Stoppani’s 12 Week Shortcut to Size Review
Jim Stoppani’s 12 Week Shortcut to Size Review

With the myriad of training methods readily available on the internet, you wouldn’t be alone in either…

Being confused as shit, or

Thinking the majority of them are a load of bollocks (they are).

A quick YouTube search for “how to build muscle and strength” immediately returns a horde of nonsensical programmes from ‘ehowhealth’ who also teach you how to take a punch and how to stave off depression through their own ‘secret concoction formula’.

At this rate,

You have a better chance of building muscle through a 3 hour binge session on PornHub’s Gym Category.


We recently came across Jim Stoppani’s 12 Week Shortcut to Size plan which, according to Stoppani, aims to bring the lab into gym through proven ways to build muscle and strength concurrently.

Let’s get into the review:

Who is Jim Stoppani?

Jim Stoppani's Shortcut to Size Review - Who is Jim Stoppani

Jim Stoppanni previously served as the ‘Senior Science Editor’ for Muscle & Fitness, Muscle & Fitness Hers and FLEX Magazine.

He holds a PhD in Exercise Physiology with a minor in Biochemistry and was an award-winning scientist at the John B. Pierce Laboratory and Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology at Yale University School of Medicine.

In other words:

He knows his stuff and his 12 Week Shortcut To Size programme is designed and backed by hard science.

Who can argue with that?


Shortcut to Size is based on the training protocol called ‘periodisation’.

This is where you change your workout at specified intervals which involves lifting light weights with high reps and progressively increasing the weights and reducing the reps.

A classic periodisation programme can take anywhere between 4 – 12 months to complete.


Jim Stoppani’s workout utilises a concept called ‘microcycles’.

This means that rather than sticking with the same weight/rep range for months on end, you change this every week for a total of 12 weeks.

The end result?

An increase in muscle size and strength.

Below is how the programme works at a glance:

· Week 1 – 12-15 reps

· Week 2 – 9-11 reps

· Week 3 – 6-8 reps

· Week 4 – 3-5 reps

You then repeat the above for a further 2 phases (3 in total) which concludes the programme, leaving you looking Hercules-esque.

Jim Stopanni’s stratagem of ‘real science, unreal results’ boasts guaranteed muscle mass and strength gains with his workout.

Jim’s reported that he’s seen gains of strength over 90lbs (40kg) on the squat and over 50lbs (22kg) on the bench press.

Size wise, he’s also stated that some guys saw 15lbs (6kg) growth in muscle mass whilst also dropping body fat among his clientele.

Shortcut to Size Workout

Phase 1, 2 and 3 – Week 1 to 4

Workout 1: Chest, Triceps and Calves

Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 4 12-15
Incline Press 3 12-15
Inclince Dumbbell Flye 3 12-15
Tricep Pushdown 3 12-15
Skull Crushers 3 12-15
Cable Overhead Tricep Extensions 3 12-15
Standing Calf Raises 4 25-30
Seated Calf Raises 4 25-30

Workout 2: Back, Biceps and Abs

Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Bent-Over Row 4 12-15
Wide-Grip Pulldown 3 12-15
Standing Pulldown 3 12-15
Straight Arm Pulldown 3 12-15
Barbell Curl 4 12-15
Dumbbell Incline Curl 3 12-15
One-Arm High Cable Curl 3 12-15
Hip Thrust 3 20-30
Crunch 3 20-30
Oblique Crunch 3 20-30

Workout 3: Shoulders, Traps and Calves

Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4 12-15
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 12-15
One-Arm Cable Front Raise 3 12-15
High Cable Rear Delt Fly 3 12-15
Dumbbell Shrug 4 12-15
Seated Calf Raise 4 25-30
Leg Press Calf Raise 4 25-30

Workout 4: Legs and Abs

Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 4 12-15
One-Leg Press 3 12-15
Leg Extension 3 12-15
Romanian Deadlift 4 12-15
Lying Leg Curl 4 12-15
Hip Thrust 3 20-30
Crunch 3 20-30
Plank 3 1 Minute

The above rounds off Phase 1 of the regime which you then rinse and repeat for Phase 2 and 3.

As mentioned earlier, after every week, you should begin increasing the weight slightly for every exercise and reducing your rep range as you work your way through.

It’s also important to keep a diary/journal with you so that you can accurately log your lifts to ensure you’re progressively increasing the load on your muscles.

So for Week 2 onward, you should be working towards the following:

· Week 2 – 9-11 reps

· Week 3 – 6-8 reps

· Week 4 – 3-5 reps

For more information on the workout you can download the full PDF below:

You can also watch a full overview of the training plan here:


This programme does an excellent job of targeting each primary muscle group with supplementary work added in to avoid muscular imbalances.

Hitting chest, triceps, back, biceps, shoulders and legs mixed in with a few sets for abs and calves ensures all of your bases are covered.

This is in contrast with a few old-school bodybuilding routines like the 20 Rep Squat Routine which can often lack focus on those ‘aesthetic’ muscles such as the biceps and abs.


Although this routine is prescribed for beginners, the variance might be a little confusing particularly if you’ve never attempted a few of the above exercises before.

For instance,

There were a few exercises in Jim’s programme I had never personally performed before (despite going to the gym for years).

To name but a few:

· One Leg Press

·  Cable Overhead Tricep Extensions (starting from waist level)

·  One-Arm High Cable Curl

·  High Cable Rear Delt Fly

I would recommend gym noobs to at least find a decent full-body workout programme first, such as Arnold’s Golden Six before attempting this right off the bat.

This is so that your body becomes accustomed to, and can properly perform, basic lifts such as the bench press, squat and barbell curls to avoid injury in the long-run (due to the transition to strength-based training later).

Once you’ve got at least 1 years worth of lifting experience under your belt, then you can switch it up and attempt Jim’s Shortcut to Size workout.


The profoundly wise and perennial bodybuilding advice is that you need to be constantly ‘shocking’ your muscles to grow.

Familiarity breeds contempt; but this training programme (regardless of your experience level) will leave your muscles so confused every week, they can’t but help but get bigger and stronger.



Stopanni recommends performing the above workout 4 times a week.

In particular, having 2 consecutive training days followed by one rest day and having the weekend off completely.

For example:

· Monday – Chest, Triceps and Calves

· Tuesday – Back, Biceps and Abs

· Wednesday – Rest

· Thursday – Shoulders, Traps and Calves

· Friday – Legs and Abs

· Saturday – Rest

· Sunday – Rest

Each body part is trained once per week (with the exception of calves and abs which is trained twice per week) on a 12 week cycle.

If fat loss is also a focus for you, consider using your rest days for ‘active rest’.

This means that you can do other activities that aren’t too strenuous on your body (whilst it’s continuing to recover) such as doing some light cardio work or going for a swim.


The time in which each workout is completed will vary depending on how quickly you can recover in between sets.

In Weeks 1 and 2, generally speaking, you should spend about 1 minute resting in between sets as the load you are using for each exercises is a lot less.

As the programme progresses into more strength-based training in Weeks 3 and 4, you should aim to rest between 2 -3 minutes per set.

This will give your body enough time to recover in order to execute the movement with perfect (and safe) form each time.

In total:

During Weeks 1 and 2, it took me roughly over an hour to complete each workout.

From Weeks 3 and 4, it took me slightly longer, completing the workouts in roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes.


When it comes to weight selection, you should ideally pick a weight for each exercise you can safely complete each set and rep range in with good technique.

So for instance, a rough allocation might look something like the below:

· Week 1 – All Exercises (60% of 1 Rep Max)

· Week 2 – All Exercises (70% of 1 Rep Max)

· Week 3 – All Exercises (75% of 1 Rep Max)

· Week 4 – All Exercises (80%/85% of 1 Rep Max)

As you go through the phases, when you return to Week 1, you should increase your weight allocation to 65% of your 1RM, Week 2 to 75% of your 1RM and so on as your strength continues to increase.


The above is only a guide and it’s important to listen to your body.

If you can’t lift a weight in the prescribed set and rep ranges safely, don’t be a cunt and attempt to, you’ll only end up on a one-way train to snap city.

Train smart and work according to your individual means.


Get this:

Although the variance in this programme is one of it’s keys to success, there’s also another training protocol that is just as effective but gets very little attention.

Rest-pause training.

What is it you might be wondering?

Here’s how it works,

In Weeks 1 and 2, once you reach the final set of each exercise and begin to hit muscular failure, you simply re-rack the weight and rest for 15-20 seconds.

You then resume the working set and hit failure again.

In Weeks 3 and 4, you do the same as above, however, you reduce the weight (using a dropset) and go to failure using the weight you used back in Week 1 for that specific exercise.

Why is this effective?

Rather than continuing the exercise beyond failure with poor form (and looking like the ‘old-creeper‘ rammed his shrivelled phallous up your arse), you allow your body enough time to recover to return to the exercise and squeeze out more reps with superior technique.

And as you haven’t already gathered, good technique is one of the fundamentals of getting excellent results in bodybuilding.

We also hailed rest-pause training (as well as 9 other advanced training techniques) to be one of the best training methods to use to smash through a plateau which was shared with our friends over at Bulk Powders.

Abs and Calves

You’ll notice as you progress through the programme that the exercises for abs and calves are performed with longer reps.

These muscle groups are more endurance-based so they tend to fair better to external stimuli by doing greater rep work (typically in the 20-30 range).

You should aim to complete between 20-30 reps, but if you can do more, keep going until you hit failure.

If you’re unable to do 20 reps as minimum, do as many as you can until you hit 20 using rest-pause training.

This also applies to the other ab and calf exercises which require slightly less work due to a weight being used (such as the Smith Machine Hip Thrust and Machine Crunch).


Jim Stoppani recommends consuming in excess of 3,000 calories per day which includes roughly 1.5g protein, 1.5g carbs and 0.5g of fat per pound of body weight.

This translates into approximately 5 meals a day which also includes a protein shake in the morning and evening during rest days.

On your training days, this is followed by the most extreme supplementation pre/during/post-workout which includes the following:

· Whey Protein – 1-2 scoops;

· Casein Protein – 1-2 scoops;

· BCAAs – 5g;

· Creatine – 1.5g – 5g;

· Beta-alanine – 1.5g – 3g;

· Betaine – 1.5g – 2g;

During your post-workout Jim prescribes 30 gummy bears (what the actual fuck?) as well as a scoop of glutamine, carnitine and whole heap of other scoops.


I didn’t follow the nutritional plan to letter as I simply didn’t have the time to sit and eat all of those meals frequently.

I’m also a man of simplicity, and would much prefer not relying so heavily on supplements and getting in the majority of my calories from whole foods at normal intervals (3-4 meals a day).


When you’re chowing down your fifth meal of the day whilst Steph from HR is getting by on a hipster salad from Pret a Manger, ersatz vitamin-infused water and awkward sexual banter with anyone that’ll give her the time of day… it’s slightly over the top.


Whilst many will find Stoppani’s approach slightly excessive, the overall premise is to keep your body in an anabolic state which you can’t knock.


The Shortcut to Size programme is a great plan to follow regardless of where you are on your fitness journey.

The variance will keep your body guessing every single week which means it will be nigh on impossible to plateau (provided you are strictly following every step).


Therein also lies a considerable problem with this programme.

Unless you are unemployed (with an abundance of time but an absence of money to afford all of the required supplements) or a professional athlete, it can be very difficult to follow the nutritional plan precisely.

For example:

I’d often be on my germ-infested commute into London when I was supposed to be tucking into 6 eggs with melted cheese and 2 cups of cooked oatmeal (30-60 minutes after breakfast 1 upon waking up).


I didn’t notice any immediate benefits to going heavy on a few of the isolation exercises such as the dumbbell incline curl, straight arm pulldown, high cable rear delt flies and so on.

These were more pronounced on the compound exercises which Jim originally specified strength gains would be ‘more of a focus’ including the bench press, squat and romanian deadlift.

With everything said:

I didn’t exactly gain the same amount of size and strength as Stoppani suggested in the introduction of the programme.

Provided, if you haven’t followed Shortcut to Size as purposely laid out (guilty), you can’t complain about the results.

I did, still, manage to improve all strength-focused lifts by around 10% and had visibly packed on size across all areas (with the biggest developments on my chest, legs and back).

After the 12 week period, I put on a total of 3.5kg – 4kg of extra lean muscle tissue (as I was still consuming roughly 3,000 calories per day).

I have to say:

I believe a lot of the development on my legs was mainly down to the one-leg press.

I much prefer doing a traditional leg press so very rarely do this singular movement (which isolates the muscles a lot better).

Suddenly, as I continued to progress, my strength began to increase from 100kg in phase 1 to 130kg in phase 3.


Final Verdict


Jim Stoppani’s 12 Week Shortcut to Size programme is a solid workout plan backed by proven methods to enhance your results in the gym.

It’s easy and fun to follow, but most certainly, gives you a clear direction towards a desired end result (building size and strength simultaneously) so no more pissing about with useless exercises.

Over To You

Did you enjoy this review?

Have you tried the Shortcut to Size plan?

Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments section below!