Posted on 29 Sep 2016
11 min read
With his gym/kitchen/laboratory hybrid hideaway, Dr Jim is something of a bodybuilding Bond villain.
He holds a doctorate in exercise physiology with a minor in biochemistry from the University of Connecticut.
He also makes a big deal of calculating exact prescriptions of meal macros and workout regimes for a variety of goals, showcased in his ‘Shortcut to…’ series of programmes (for our review of ‘Shortcut to Size’ click here).
Each meal, macro and micronutrient is measured out on his special little scales, he drinks his pre-workout mixtures out of test tubes and cooks his salmon using a Bunsen burner.
Basically, he’s the hardest nerd since Bruce Banner.
There must be something in his science though, as he has helped hone the physiques of a list of celebrities that includes LL Cool J, Dr Dre and even The People’s Champion, The Rock.
But the clincher for me was that Jim counts among his clients one Mario Lopez, better known as Albert Clifford ‘AC’ Slater from 1990s high school documentary series Saved By The Bell.
As a kid, I had the cheeky-chappy charm and snazzy jumpers of a Zack Morris, but in reality I longed to have the sweaty Jheri curls, lycra singlet and physique of Bayside High’s wrestling champion AC Slater.
I had to try one of Jim’s programmes.
I chose Shortcut to Shred for the simple fact that I’d let myself go.
Back in spring, I tore my Achilles playing 5-a-side.
It was a classic ‘his second touch is a tackle’ scenario, and although I did win the ball and nurse it safely back to our keeper, I collapsed in a heap across my own ankle to the tune of my ligament popping.
After a few months away from football and avoiding cardio altogether, when I did manage to drag myself to the gym I was sporting a definite ‘tummy’ and pushing 20% bodyfat.
I decided it was time to sort it out, and found Big Jim’s programme on BodyBuilding.com.
I printed off the e-book, downloaded the app, and made an Asda online order for lots of eggs, grapefruits and Cheesestrings.
Then I sent a message to Henry at Gymtalk offering to write a review of it… and committed myself to six weeks without fried chicken (I moan about food a lot in this review).
Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut To Shred is a six-week programme – basically a crash course – designed to help you “torch fat, drop excess weight, and get lean faster than ever”.
It revolves around a six-workouts-per-week training split, which has you hitting shoulders, traps, chest, back, biceps, triceps and legs two times per week, and abs four times per week.
The weighlifting element is built around microcycles in a periodised scheme, which progresses the sets and reps in order to optimise size and strength development over the six weeks.
Jim incorporates linear periodisation (increasing weight, decreasing reps) for the main compound movements and reverse linear periodisation (decreasing weight, increasing reps) for isolation movements.
The most crucial element of the workouts, however, is what Jim terms “cardio acceleration”, which calls for a minute of high intensity interval training (HIIT) between every set, and is the key to the routine’s fat burning efficacy.
This cardio work can be anything from kettlebell swings and box jumps to tyre flips and picking a fist fight with the gym’s in-house hardman (just ask him what steroids he takes).
The other important element of Shortcut to Shred is, of course, the diet plan.
Alongside a heavy reliance on supplements, Dr Jim prescribes what is essentially a high protein, low carb diet.
Macro tracking is mandatory here, and the stipulation is 1.5g protein and fat per pound of bodyweight per day, and a gradual decrease in carb intake, starting at 1.5g per pound of bodyweight and decreasing to 0.5g over the six week period.
Full details on the workout schedule, along with all the diet and supplement plans, can be found at the link below:
There are two things I should warn you about before trying Shortcut to Shred: the breakfasts and the cardio acceleration.
Waking up to down your supplements half an hour before you prepare six eggs (three whites), a bowl of watery porridge and half a grapefruit is not easy.
However, it gives your metabolism the kickstart it needs for the rest of the day (at least I think it does, I don’t have a PhD like Dr Jim).
Not even between sets.
Nope, you’ve got to do jumping squats, skipping, or fucking burpees (and don’t call me Shirley).
There’s no opportunity to piss about on your phone for three minutes and tell yourself it was only 20 seconds.
Put the bar down, and keep that heartrate up.
I think it’s Jimbodini’s way of sorting the men from the boys.
At this point you may have noticed that it looks like I’m already making excuses for myself, but there’s a perfectly good explanation for that: I fucking well am making excuses for myself.
Shortcut to Shred would be difficult for someone who lives in a gym and has a personal chef, so for your average 9-5 wage slave who is happy when he makes it to the gym three times a week, this regime is nigh-on impossible.
That’s why I’m not reviewing Jim Stoppani’s Six Week Shortcut to Shred, I’m reviewing ‘The Abridged Jim Stoppani’s Six Week Shortcut to Shred for the Average Bloke’.
This programme requires six strenuous workouts a week and a lot of intermittent snacking, not to mention the politics of cracking open tins of tuna in an open office kitchen.
Therefore I made some alterations to the plan to suit my timetable, and you shouldn’t judge me for it because you will struggle too.
I managed five workouts a week, and did whatever the hell I wanted for my cheat day: the plan dictated that my ‘cheat day’ involve a more relaxed and carby diet, but a restricted diet nonetheless.
I did that my own way – for example, Dr Jim said I could have an individual pizza on the seventh day, but I made a habit of wolfing down the meatiest Asda create-your-own that I could dream up.
This wasn’t because I wasn’t dedicated, rather a psychological coping mechanism that allowed me to endure the programme.
It’s a tough plan, and I’m only human.
A pot-bellied human limiting his chances of becoming less pot-bellied, but a human nonetheless.
Another thing I ‘altered’ was the supplement intake, but this is something I didn’t feel guilty about.
Jim Stoppani has his own brand of supplements, and many are included in this plan (funny that), including a few with some fairly dubious backing, such as CLA and Acetyl L-carnitine.
Far be it from me, a pot-bellied AC Slater fetishist with no PhD, to question the necessity of these supplements, I just don’t usually put that much white powder in my body during the week (that’s a joke, mum).
I still included plenty, mind.
I took the full quota of creatine, fish oils, green tea and of course protein powder, and concluded that was plenty.
Overall, the diet is tolerable, but with all the grapefruits, apples, bits of bread and pineapples, I felt like I was in a fucking chimpanzee enclosure.
At times I wanted to take a leaf out of their book and start launching my own shit at Chef Stoppani.
In the first week, I loved the workouts, even the cardio acceleration.
The lower weights and higher reps, combined with a fuckload of skipping, were energising.
After each workout I felt good.
I left absolutely everything in the gym, including gallons of sweat.
I’ve been on bulking programmes before, with weights I can barely handle and reps I can count with one hand, and this was completely different, obviously.
After my workouts in the first week, I felt like I’d run a marathon with my upper body.
Although I have no idea what running a marathon feels like: I’m shredding, not a mentalist.
This felt good, I had earned my third protein shake of the day.
Banana, if you’re asking, though that didn’t help me shift the chimpanzee feeling.
To suit my lifestyle, which involves a 9-5 job and an hour commute each way, I varied my workout times.
Jimbo said I could do this in the comments section of the website, before you go off grassing.
Usually, I prefer working out in the morning because I can get more time in.
Getting decent session time is essential with the Shortcut to Shred, because workouts can take a couple of hours, which is not dinner hour-friendly.
Sometimes I’d sneak to the gym in the middle of the day when my boss was out of the office (creative licence Stephen, honestly), as I felt it suited the plan better to work out between midday(ish) supps and lunch, but most of the time I had to compromise.
Speaking of lunch, BORING.
A tin of tuna, a slither of fake mayo, and some wholemeal bread (in the first week).
Oh yeah, and the other half of that fucking grapefruit.
Not a Cheesestring in sight.
The lunches made me question whether I was a shredder at all.
I was praying to the ghosts of the Mitchell brothers for dirty gains and a dad bod.
The meals change as the plan progresses, and you do get to eat more carbs later in the programme, but you don’t need me to list the menu like a waiter.
Just know that you get to have steak and sweet, sweet potatoes for tea.
Everything else in this meal plan gets boring.
I think it was Samuel Johnson who said, “when a man is tired of steak, he is tired of life”, or some shit.
Olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, sit at room temperature, hot-as-fuck griddle pan, rare.
Excuse me, I need a minute.
Right, wank over, I didn’t need the testosterone anyway.
At the end of the first week I felt completely changed, in a good way.
In terms of my mental stamina, this was crucial.
I needed quick results, and I got them.
I might have quit if I didn’t believe it was worth it.
I felt stronger and, crucially, less bloated and fat.
Alright, I wasn’t Brad Pitt (topical – you’re welcome, GymTalk SEO department) in Fight Club, but I was definitely already heading in that direction.
It got harder though; the first week soon felt like a breeze in retrospect.
You really don’t get to rest.
I’ve always been told that well-timed rests can be just as important as the workouts, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Shortcut to Shred – it’s non-fucking-stop.
As with most of these things, the battle is more psychological than physical.
You can do it, sure, but can you actually bring yourself to?
The workouts get more difficult, the food gets less appealing, but the results keep coming.
Big commitment, big reward.
I was really happy with the aesthetic results I was getting but the real victory was the way I felt.
I was sleeping easier, waking easier, concentrating more at work, all that Woman’s Weekly shit.
The other day, after finishing the course, I ate the biggest plate of the greasiest fried chicken I dared to make.
It was heaven, but soon went straight through me as the squits the other end.
I overshare because I think it illustrates the negative effects of crash courses like Shortcut to Shred versus a balanced lifestyle.
As much of a slog as it was, six weeks is a very short amount of time for any goal.
If you’re used to treating yourself to the odd burger or bucket of chicken – which I’d say is fine – the Shortcut to Shred diet is a shock to the system, and an even bigger shock when you go back.
Just a heads up – for the sixth week I would recommend adding toilet roll to the turkey, avocado and brown rice on your shopping list.
You’ll notice the recently scalped toilet roll in my ‘after’ photo.
To summarise, if you’re not an unemployed person who lives in a gym, kitchen, or zoo, Shortcut to Shred might not be for you.
The full course, with the levels of dedication and discipline required, would probably be perfect for a competition bodybuilder.
But if your timetable is as bang average as mine, I’d definitely give my patented Abridged Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Shred For Average Blokes a recommendation, as the results, in such a short timeframe, were still impressive.
I get married next year, and I think I might do this again a couple of months before saying ‘I do’.
Have you tried Shortcut to Shred or any other Jim Stoppani routines?
Thinking of giving it a go?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!