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Countdown to Strength Prep

While you wait for the Countdown to Strength Challenge to start, follow these training, nutrition, and supplement protocols.

Countdown to Strength Prep

My Countdown to Strength Challenge is just around the corner – pre-registration opens March 20 and the Challenge officially begins on April 2. The one-of-a-kind Countdown to Strength training program will get you considerably stronger while also helping you build lean muscle mass and burn body fat.

So what to do in the “down time” before the Challenge starts? Actually, it shouldn’t be down time at all. Keep training right up to the start of the program, though taking the weekend off before starting Countdown to Strength on a Monday (if that’s what you plan to do) is a good idea.

I recommend following the daily #TrainWithJim workouts that I’m currently doing. These routines will get you used to doing full-body workouts five days a week (if you aren’t doing so already) – the same schedule and format you’ll be following in the Countdown to Strength Challenge.

The only other thing you'll need to do between now and the start of the Challenge is test your one-rep maxes (1RM) on the bench press, squat, and deadlift.

Testing Your 1RM

I recommend doing your 1RM tests the week before you start the Countdown to Strength program; if you plan to start on April 2 (Monday), do your 1RMs sometime the week of March 26-30. If you plan to start April 9, test 1RMs the week of April 2-6.

If you’re doing #TrainWithJim workouts, test your 1RM on one main lift three separate days during the week at the beginning of your regularly scheduled workout. For example, let’s say you decide to test your 1RMs on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Do your bench press 1RM test on Wednesday as the first thing you do at the gym, then proceed with your workout. Do the same thing for squats and deadlifts the next two days.

Or, pick one day during the week to do all three 1RM tests (bench press, squat, deadlift). Doing a regular workout on top of that may be a bit much, so consider doing that in its own workout.

I covered how to test your 1RM in the Countdown to Strength Program Overview, but here’s the protocol again:

  1. Take the weight you can normally lift for 10 reps to failure, multiply it by 1.33 and round up. For example, if you can bench 225 pounds for 10 reps, start your 1RM attempt with 300 pounds.
  2. Perform a few warm-up sets doing no more than 3-5 reps per set. Gradually increase the weight over 2-3 sets until you are at about 75% of your estimated 1-rep max.
  3. Attempt your estimated 1-rep max weight for one rep and only one rep.
  4. If you were successful on the first try but know you can do more, add another 10-20 pounds for your next attempt. Keep adding 10-20 pounds until you reach a weight at which you fail. Use the last weight you were successful at as your 1RM. If you weren't successful on your first attempt, don't be discouraged. Simply decrease the weight by 5-10 pounds and try again. Once you reach a weigh that you can do for one rep, use that as your 1RM. Be sure to allow a good 4-5 minutes between attempts.

That's your training prep in a nutshell, but don't forget about the other two crucial aspects to maximizing your results in the Countdown to Strength Challenge: nutrition and supplements.

Challenge Prep: Food and Supps

When it comes to nutrition, you have options. If you want to keep it simple, I recommend following either my Muscle-Building Rules (if you want to maximize mass gain) or Dieting 101 (if you want to maximize fat-burning).

You really can’t go wrong with either approach. Make a list of the foods you’ll eat during the week, and make a big grocery shopping trip the weekend before so you’re ready to fuel your training. My Food/Nutrient Database and Food Alternatives List can help you put your grocery checklist together.

As for supplements, start with the JYM SYSTEMPre JYM, Post JYM, and Pro JYM. With these three simple products, you’ll have ALL your bases covered around workouts to ensure maximum strength and performance levels during your training sessions and a full recovery afterward. Not to mention great RESULTS you’ll see both in the gym and in the mirror!

The JYM Supplement Science line goes far beyond the JYM System though. The JYM SUPPORT STACK is what it sounds like: a trio of products (Vita JYM, Omega JYM, and ZMA JYM) that will support your efforts in the gym and your recovery outside of it, as well as promote better overall health.

Rounding out the JYM product line is a group of “specialty” supplements, if you will: my testosterone-booster Alpha JYM and the fat-burner Shred JYM.

And then there's my brand new lean mass gainer Mass JYM, which is a great product to take while following the Countdown to Strength program. This well-rounded formula delivers optimal levels of protein, carbs, and healthy fats and can be taken any time of day – as a meal, a snack, before bedtime, or even around workouts.

Good luck as you prepare both physically and mentally for the upcoming Countdown to Strength Challenge! I'll be preparing and doing the workouts right along with you the entire time – you can do this!

More Info to Prepare You For the Challenge

As you know, my website is an encyclopedia of information on Training, Nutrition and Supplementation. Below you will find more articles and information regarding how to prepare for this specific challenge. Additionally, if you have not done so already, please join the private group on Facebook "The JYM Army". This group is the largest online group of fitness enthusiasts, and they can answer any question you might have about this challenge or any program on my website.


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