It’s rare to hear a guy say that he doesn’t want to gain more muscle.
Usually, the guys who don’t want more size already have it.
Everyone seems to be an expert on gaining solid muscle mass but few trainers have gotten the attention that Dr. Jim Stoppani has with his Shortcut to Size program.
Utilizing the methodology of periodization, Stoppani claims that his program is the key to gaining more solid muscle mass in a realistic amount of time.
Let’s review the Shortcut to Size program to see if it truly lives up to its reputation.
Shortcut to Size Workouts
Shortcut to Size is an all-in-one workout program that includes exercises, video demonstrations, nutrition guide, and supplement recommendations.
Let’s start first with the workouts.
The workouts in Shortcut to Size are based on the following specific muscle groups being paired together:
- Day 1: Chest, Triceps, and Calves
- Day 2: Back, Biceps, and Abs
- Day 3: Active Rest Day
- Day 4: Shoulders, Traps, and Calves
- Day 5: Legs, Abs
- Day 6: Active Rest Day
- Day 7: Active Rest Day
These muscle pairings are going to work really well for most people, especially those who have trouble gaining weight or putting on mass.
The reason behind this is because the muscle pairings ensure that you’re hitting every muscle group at least once.
What’s more, you are training the primary movers with the assisting secondary muscle groups.
For example, on day 1 week 1 you’ll notice that chest is paired with triceps.
Chest would be the primary mover; however, triceps, as the secondary muscle group, assists in all chest-based exercises.
If you want to push more weight during chest exercises, it’s important to also focus on the triceps.
Another great thing about the exercises is that they are suitable to building a foundation of muscle and strength knowledge.
Stoppani focuses on compound movements for the primary movers as well as effective isolation exercises.
The compound movements such as the barbell back squat will recruit a variety of major muscle groups to ensure all muscles learn to work effectively together while promoting the biggest surge in growth hormone release, which will support size gains.
The isolation exercises help to focus on bringing that particular muscle to total fatigue, which is key for muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth).
For example, the barbell back squat is used on leg day.
The barbell squat demands activation from the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, calves, and abdominal muscles. This is a compound movement.
Stoppani then has you perform leg extensions, which focuses exclusively on the quadriceps.
This back-to-back combination helps to fatigue the quadriceps muscles, thereby supporting growth.
Now that you know you’ll be hitting the right muscle groups for the correct number of times per week, what about the methodology used behind the acute variables?
Philosophy Behind Shortcut to Size
When you look at any given workout, you’ll see a selection of numbers called acute variables.
This tells you how many sets and repetitions that you should be completing for a given workout.
It also tells you the tempo, rest break time, and intensity.
Shortcut to Size is based on the scientifically proven concept of periodization.
Periodization is when you systematically – not randomly – change the variables of a workout to ensure a consistent rate of resistance, change, and challenge.
In the case of Shortcut to Size, Stoppani has your acute variables changing on a weekly basis.
Each week or microcycle takes you through different types of resistance training:
- Repetition Range: 12 to 15
The first microcycle is based on classic endurance training.
You’ll be using low weight and higher repetitions.
For example, during the bicep curl, you may only use 15 pounds but you’ll be lifting that weight for 12 to 15 repetitions.
- Repetition Range: 9 to 11
The second microcycle focuses on the ideal repetition range for muscle hypertrophy or muscle growth.
You’ll want to increase your weight from the previous week so that you can only achieve between 9 to 11 repetitions.
- Repetition Range: 6 to 8
You’ll be increasing the weight you use once again and this time, you’ll be working with acute variables that help to increase your overall strength.
This given repetition range means that the weight should be heavy enough to get no more than 8 repetitions.
- Repetition Range: 3 to 5
Finally, the last microcycle is all about heavy weight and the fewest repetitions.
You’ll see sizable power development during this week.
The idea behind the microcycles is to change each week and once you finish Week 4, you return to Week 1. Why go through all these microcycles when your goal is size and not endurance?
The reason why periodization is so effective is that it allows the body to continuously progress and improve.
This continued progression from week to week ends up supporting all microcycles and phases simultaneously.
For example, having more muscle endurance (microcycle 1) can support your muscle growth by extending the time to reach total fatigue.
As your strength (microcycle 3) also improves, you’ll be able to use more weight.
During your hypertrophy week (microcycle 2), you’ll have more endurance to reach a deeper level of muscle fatigue AND you’ll be lifting more weight overall, which only contributes to the fatiguing of the muscle.
In other words, the better you become in one microcycle, the more it helps the other microcycles.
Once you complete Week 4 and return to Week 1, you’ll be able to use more weight than the previous weeks.
Pros of Shortcut to Size
Now, let’s discuss the values I found to be most beneficial with this program:
I’m a big fan of the fact that Stoppani has completely broken down the exercises starting with their proper names all the way to their execution via video demonstrations.
Each workout day also has a lengthy video of Stoppani going through each and every exercise giving you his best tips and tricks to maximize your results.
He doesn’t just give you a list of exercises and tells you to do them; he shows you exactly what to do.
A good workout is nothing without an even better nutrition program.
Stoppani steps up to the plate to deliver a very generous breakdown of what to eat, when to eat it, and how much you should be eating.
You’ll be able to figure out your total number of calories as well as the macronutrient breakdown.
What’s more, I was happy to see that Stoppani fits in his personal nutrition hacks such as the fast carbohydrate loading post-workout with the gummy bears.
Sure, he doesn’t give you a new set of menu options for every single day of the program but he gives you enough to get you growing.
Supplements were once a luxury that are now almost like a requirement when it comes to getting the protein you need to gain serious size.
Stoppani has factored this into Shortcut to Size by laying out the best supplements to use to gain muscle while limiting your fat gains.
Those supplements include:
What’s more, Stoppani has the timing down of exactly when you need to be taking the supplements to support muscle building.
Cons of Shortcut to Size
I think Shortcut to Size is a fantastic program; however, there are two hiccups that I noticed with the workout series:
Too Many Supplements
Sure, Stoppani gives you his recommendations on what supplements to take but the list is above and beyond what most people realistically take.
This isn’t surprising as Stoppani has his own supplement line and he’s just a guy trying to push his product.
The problem here is that Stoppani isn’t taking into account the potential medical conflicts of these supplements with the reader.
I can’t stress enough that if you’re going to use all of the supplements that Stoppani recommends, be sure to check with your doctor first.
Make sure none of the supplements are going to interfere with current medications or medical instructions.
What’s more, these supplements aren’t cheap.
If you’re trying to get big on a budget, you’re better off spending your hard-earned cash on actual whole foods, not supplements.
You’re not going to grow simply by over supplementing your diet. You need to train hard and eat big.
Supplements aren’t a requirement so don’t stress over this part of the program if you can’t afford or simply don’t want to buy all these supplements.
I was genuinely surprised when I saw that Stoppani didn’t bother to split up quadriceps and hamstrings.
He trains both on the same day but has two days for calves.
I know calves can be a stubborn muscle to train but when you’re trying to get big, your legs are key for maximizing growth hormone release.
This is why most guys shooting for size train their legs twice a week.
For most people, legs respond the best for size gains when they are targeted twice per week so if I could make one change in this program, I’d split up quadriceps and hamstrings.
The other option would be to simply add a second day dedicated to legs.
My Experience with Shortcut to Size
Will post my personal results soon.
What Other Users Are Saying
From popular bloggers to the Average Joe forum members, people have a lot to say about Shortcut to Size.
The main points that I took away from looking through dozens of reviews:
- Users across the board were commenting on the improvements in strength.
For example, one reviewer claimed that his strength increased around 10 to 16% over the course of 12 weeks.
- This should be a given but user after user was adamant about the fact that this program helps you pack on mass.
One Youtube video reviewer claims to have gained 12 lbs. of muscle in 12 weeks with Shortcut to Size, which sounds a little crazy to me.
Clean Eating is Tough
- Not surprisingly, people found it difficult to eat clean while on a bulking-based program.
This doesn’t mean the program is bad; rather, people aren’t fond of a clean bulk.
If you’re disciplined or aesthetics isn’t a worry, then you’ll have no problem with this.
Who Will Benefit from Shortcut to Size?
Assuming that a person follows the program exactly as it’s laid out AND eats the recommended number of calories, there are four types of people that are going to see the most out of this program.
If you’re new to weight lifting, Shortcut to Size is one of the better-suited programs out there for newcomers.
The exercises aren’t terribly difficult and with Stoppani helping you with learning every step, you can feel confident about your performance.
Hands down, this program is ideal for the hardgainers out there.
Again, only if you’re following the diet and workout program will you see serious results.
Shortcut to Size puts the right amount of hurt on the muscle and the recommended caloric intake ensures effective recovery and growth.
Mass – Not Fat – Seekers
One of the biggest drawbacks of a traditional bulking program is that you gain muscle and fat. Post-bulk, you jump into cutting season.
Stoppani himself stays in fitness model shape all year round and Shortcut to Size is a program that will help you pack on size without the excessive fat.
Realistically, you’ll still gain some fat mass but it’ll be nothing compared to a traditional bulking program.
If you don’t care much for size, you’ll still be pleasantly pleased with how your strength and power levels increase with this program.
Since it’s utilizing a periodization layout, you’ll be cycling through endurance, growth, strength, and power.
As I mentioned above, getting better in one area of resistance training only helps the others.
For those who are strength-focused, you’ll be able to increase weight used and power output.
Would I recommend Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Size program? Absolutely.
There’s no guesswork with this program, which makes it ideal for beginners, hardgainers, and it even throws veterans through a loop, making them second guess how they set-up their own workouts.
If you’re a long-time lifter, you don’t necessarily have to follow Shortcut to Size to a T; rather, you can take the layout and methodology and apply it to your own workouts.
Don’t stress about the supplements, follow the diet, train like a beast, and you’ll be very pleased with your results.