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3x3 Rest Rundown Q&A Live Video Transcript

Boost your strength by as much as 50% in only a week? The full transcript of my live Q&A and tutorial my 3x3 Rest Rundown

3x3 rest rundown training tutorial

Note: This tutorial video was recorded as a live Facebook event. The text below is an edited transcript of the tutorial intended to provide members with a convenient means of referring to and further researching the topics and content detailed in the video.


I'm here at the Bodybuilding.com headquarters gym. You can actually see many of the staff getting in their workouts—one of the best parts of the headquarters is the gym that's available for everyone. I love coming back here and getting a workout in. Now, today I'm going to demo one of my full-body workouts: My Train with Jim training workout, this is going to be my Full-Body 3x3 Rest Rundown

3x3 Rest Rundown

What I've done is taken the 3x3, which is a popular strength-training technique where you're basically doing 3 sets of 3 reps. However, I've got a spin on it: I combine the 3x3 with my Rest Rundown technique. With my Rest Rundown technique, the rest periods between sets get shorter and shorter as you progress. Since you're doing full-body training and we're doing daily training, every day your rest periods get shorter and shorter. And so Workout 1, you have 60 seconds of rest; Workout 2 the very next day, rest periods drop down to 45 seconds; Day 3, which I'm going to demonstrate today, rest periods drop again another 15 seconds down to just 30 seconds; then Workout 4, another 15 seconds down to 15; and the final workout you basically have no rest periods, so you're essentially doing 9 reps in a row.

You're starting with a weight—not your 3-rep max, but somewhere around your 6- to 7-rep max. In the end, if it goes well you'll be able to get actually 9 reps by the end of the program. Now, this is something that I typically have you do and adjust over weeks at a time to give the body more time to adapt to the reduction in rest periods between sets, which then ends up allowing you to get stronger. But with the full-body training, I'm giving you a snapshot of these techniques, so we're going to be doing it every single day, a drop in rest periods.

The nice thing about this is, with the full-body training, I'm going to pick one exercise per muscle group. Each exercise, I'm going to use the same weight. So I'm going to use a weight, like I said, somewhere around my 6 to 7 rep max. But I'll be doing 3 at a time, so I'll be doing 3 and then stop. Since this is Workout 3, I'm only getting 30 seconds of rest. I'm going to go a bit on the lighter side because I'm still recovering from knee surgery—it's a little more difficult to throw the dumbbells around. I'm just going to run you through what tomorrow's workout is actually going to look like.

We have 10 exercises, one for each muscle group. About a 6- or 7-rep max—and like I said, I'm going to go a little bit lighter. To start, you want to do at least one warm-up set before jumping into 6- to 7-rep max, so I'm going to just start off with one warm-up set. The exercises that I'm choosing—if you're following along with this 3x3 Rest Rundown, you'll see I kept the exercises fairly vague. The first one is bench press, so you're starting with a chest exercise. The next one is a row, so next up is back. Then you move to legs, that way the upper body gets a break. So you're going to do a leg exercise—in this case, I'm doing dumbbell deadlift. Fourth exercise, we go to shoulders. The reason I put the legs in the middle was to give the shoulders a bit more of a break after hitting chest, which can fatigue shoulders. So shoulders are the fourth exercise and in this case, I'm doing standing dumbbell shoulder presses. We're going to follow that with trap work, doing dumbbell shrugs. Follow that with calves, standing calf raises—stick to dumbbells. Then we're going to move into standing overhead triceps extensions, dumbbell curls for biceps, then we're going to do dumbbell wrist curls, and finish with weighted crunches. So we're going to do it in that order, 10 exercises really fast. I'll do a quick warm-up here, then I'm going to do reverse-grip bench press for the bench press exercise.

With the Rest Rundown technique, what it's allowing you to do is take what's typically known as a sort of powerlifting technique—which doesn't provide much of a metabolic boost if you will, for fat loss—and actually turn it into not just a strength-building technique but a conditioning technique, and something that's going to help burn body fat.

I've got 30 seconds of rest between 3 sets of 3 reps, so I'm just going to use 80s. As soon as the dumbbells are down, my 30 seconds start, so I've got a little bit of time now. On the reverse grip—the reason I like using the reverse grip is it helps tuck the elbows in. Not only does this provide more stability for the shoulders, to help prevent shoulder injuries, but it actually helps hit more of the upper pecs. My time's going to be up pretty quick so I've got another 3 reps to go. One more set. So after chest, I'll literally go right into back, and like I said you can do this entire workout in about 30 minutes. Now with full-body training, you don't have to use this as your main workout plan. This can actually replace your cardio if you will, but what you want to do is either do fewer reps or lower the intensity.

Power Rows

I'm done with chest, and I'm going to go right into my back. Because we're going from push to pull, I don't really need a rest, and I probably really don't even need a warm-up with this weight. I'm pretty warmed up now, so I'm going to go right into the 80s. This version of rows I call my Power Row. I bring the weight all the way to the ground in between, which helps reduce stress on the lower back. I had a motorcycle accident—as a kid, I used to race motorcycles—and so due to the injury I have to modify a lot of my lifts to reduce the stress on my lower back. I think that's about 30, losing track of time talking. So again, as you can see, it's a great way to take fairly heavy weight—we're working in the 6- to 7-rep range—and turning it into a more metabolic workout than you typically would do with 3 sets of 3. You might be doing a set of 3, sitting around for 4 minutes, then you get back to another set of 3, sitting around for 4 minutes. This speeds it up.

So we've done chest, we've done back—now we're going to give the shoulders a break by doing the leg exercise. I'm going to do deadlifts. So I have 100lbs—these are 100lbs dumbbells, for most people not much of a challenge but remember I'm fresh out of four knee surgeries this year, so this will be challenging enough for me at this stage of my recovery. So again, 3 sets of 3. Now if your gym does have dumbbells that are heavy enough—the gym here goes up to 150 so that's basically a 300lbs deadlift—for most people that's going to be adequate, depending on your rep range. Like I said, I'm recovering from knee surgery so this is ample weight enough for me right now. What I like is it allows you to keep the weight behind the body more than a standard barbell deadlift. It's almost like doing the hex bar. I talk about that, it allows you to hit more of the quads on the deadlift. 

Also helps reduce stress on the lower back. Like I said, because of my past injuries I have to modified exercises to help reduce the stress on my lower back. So things like dumbbell deads—if the dumbbells go heavy—or the hex bar make a great replacement. And then also check out the barbell hack squat, which I talk about a lot. It's basically a deadlift with the bar behind the body.

Alright, shoulders are pretty rested so I'm going to go right into standing shoulder presses, 3 for 3. I like doing my shoulder presses standing for a couple reasons. First of all, standing exercises are shown to burn more calories, as you're using more muscles standing up to do the shoulder press versus if I were sitting with back support. It's a great way to burn more calories. Also works the core, as well. One more shoulder press, and after this, I go back to the 100s for shrugs, hit the traps. Then I'll do some calf work before I move on to arms, so that way we're giving the arms a little bit more of a break after the upper body moves. Because things like rows and presses are going to fatigue the arm muscles, we're giving them a little more time to rest before we actually train them.

Grip Tip: Pushing Exercises

So, shoulders done, you can go right into traps, 3 sets of 3 shrugs. Now for those of you who noticed on my shoulder presses, I was using an open grip. Question comes up a lot. I like open grip on chest presses, barbell, shoulder presses, and even flies. With the open grip, what you're actually creating is a better—it's better physics because the force is going straight up through the lower part of the arm, and right there where the barbell is, versus if I had it in my hands and the bar would be sitting back here in the palm where there's not a direct line for the force.

Grip Tip: Pulling Exercises

I just finished shrugs. Now with shrugs, you'll notice—and if you also noticed when I did my rows as well—I used an open grip. But this is different from pressing; the reason I'm using an open grip here is actually to use less of the arms on that exercise. If you use a closed grip where you grab the dumbbell, you tend to squeeze the dumbbell and then when you do things like rows and even shrugs you tend to initiate it with the arms. So I like using the open grip—it makes you focus on the hands as just hooks holding the weight, and then the target muscle ends up doing the move without as much assistance coming from the arms. Particularly on things like rows, pulldowns—if you have trouble feeling your lats the day after you've trained back, it's because you're not activating those muscle fibers, and you're probably overpowering the move with your arms. Try using this real simple tip of just putting the thumb over the bar and using that to do your pulldowns and your rows. I can guarantee you, you'll feel it more in the lats.

Calf Training

After the shrugs, we go into a calf exercise, and if you have a good gym that has a calf machine you can use that instead. I'm choosing dumbbells because, first of all, I'm still recovering from knee surgery—I can't use that much weight because the knee isn't that stable, so 100lbs dumbbells are adequate for me. And there's no reason you can't do calf raises just standing on the ground. Everybody thinks you have to do them standing on something to get a stretch. Well yeah, when you stretch a muscle before you contract it, it contracts with more force, but that doesn't mean you have to stretch a muscle before you use it. You often don't stretch in every day, so it makes sense training without a stretch. Feel free to stand on a step or plate if you really want, but it's really easy to just do these standing on the flat ground.

A lot of people might ask "Would you still do the same rep range, 3x3, for calves, for even things like abs?" The answer's yeah, definitely. Even though we think of calves as being slower twitch muscle fibers—most muscles in the body are just around 50/50. There's slight alteration, even in world champion athletes, so even with the calves it's not like there's a super-high proportion of slow twitch muscle fibers. Training them with low weight and high reps is not the only way to train them. You should also train them with heavy weight, and even train them explosively.

I'm doing the calves before I get to arms because we're training the entire body here, and the rows would fatigue the biceps. The chest press would fatigue the triceps. The shoulder press will also fatigue the triceps a bit. As a way to give the biceps and triceps a little rest, I'm doing calves before I get to arms. So now that the arms are rested I'm going to do standing overhead triceps extension, versus seated. And again, I like them standing because I'm burning more calories, using more muscle.

Overhead Triceps Extensions

Question: "What are the advantages of the overhead triceps extension versus lying extensions or pressdowns?"

So with the overhead, what's going on here is—as the name implies—your arms go overhead, so elbows are up. What this is doing is stretching the long head, which is the back part of the triceps. When you stretch a muscle—which I talked about with calves—before you contract it, you can contract it with more force. The other two heads—the lateral and the medial head, which is on the underside here—they don't cross the shoulder like the long head. When you bring the arms overhead, they don't stretch—only the long head stretches. So when you do overhead triceps extensions you're hitting more specifically the long head, versus when you're doing them with the arms at the side where you're getting more of the lateral head.

One more of those, move into curls, and then wrist curls and finish with abs. That'll be an entire workout: full body, 3x3, strength training, conditioning, muscle building, fat loss—all in one workout. Now remember, I'm not hitting muscle failure doing 3 sets of 3, because I'm still getting 30 seconds of rest. Tomorrow I get 15 seconds, so these 3 sets of 3 with 15 seconds of rest are going to be much harder than they are today. And then the day after that as well. You shouldn't be hitting muscle failure with the 30 seconds. If you are, you're going too heavy and you need to reduce the weight.

Grip Tip: Curls

Going into curls next. With curls, I also use an open grip, so when I'm doing my curl I'm curling like this, which is allowing me to keep the weight closer to the wrist. And again, that's just reducing another joint in the move, which is a weaker joint here. It's helping me to better focus on the biceps. Now the way I do those curls is what we call a supinating curl. A normal curl you'd just be standing with the dumbbells with palms facing forward, like with a barbell curl. I'm actually starting with a neutral grip, and then as I come up I turn—or supinate—my palms. That's because the biceps not only flexes the elbow joint but also supinates the hand. So you're getting both biceps movements under resistance.

Now we'll go into wrist curls. And these I typically just do at the end of the bench, resting my arms on top of my legs. It's that simple. So we'll follow this up with abs, and literally that's whole-body, pretty much every major muscle group in—what time did we start, a little after 6—so right around 30 minutes, with me talking, forgetting, and repeating some of the exercises. I'm sure I went longer than 30 seconds’ rest because I was talking during a lot of them, so it'd be even faster.

Using Pre JYM, Post JYM, and Pro JYM

Question: "Do you drink anything special during your workouts or is it just water?"

For right now, it's after 4 pm so I'm actually sipping on Pre JYM with Pro JYM. It's Refreshing Melon with Tahitian Vanilla Pro JYM

Question: "Does that mean you have to take Pre JYM before?"

No, you know there's really no wrong way to take Pre JYM, Post, and Pro JYM, as long as you're taking all 3 around your workout. You could take Pre JYM before your workout, and then drink water during the workout, and then have Post JYM after. You could start sipping on Pre JYM right before your workout and sip on it during the workout instead of having it pre-workout. And then follow with Post and Pro. You could have Pre JYM as your pre-workout, sip on Post JYM during your workout, and finish with Pro JYM. There's really no wrong way to do it. However, I'll start a good at least 15-20 minutes or so sipping on Pre JYM before my workout, just because you want to have time for it to be absorbed, so that you can get the acute benefit of those ingredients.

And then last is the crunches. So again, same thing, people are like "Oh you're going to do this for abs as well?" Yeah, you want to periodize your ab training with different resistances and rep ranges. A lot of people ask me about the crunch and what the real range of motion is. Really, a crunch is just a very small—you're really just bringing up what we call the thoracic part of the rib cage. You're not trying to flex at the lumbar and bring—there's nothing wrong with doing that, but it is a different exercise. With the crunch, it's more about moving at the shoulders and targeting more of the upper portion of the abs. As far as the resistance, I'm just holding the weight above me to make it that much more difficult. You can hold it on your chest if you want, or you can hold it overhead which would make it even more difficult. The choice is up to you. Last set and then we'll be done.

That's it guys. Questions?

Full-body Training

Question: "Is this your daily workout routine?"

What you saw right here actually is my daily routine. Now, I post this every day on my social media.  The nice thing about this is, as you see, it's not just me going "Oh here's my workout today, we're gonna do 3 sets of curls and then—" You learn something new. I'm exposing you to new techniques, like the 3x3. Then I throw in an extra twist like the Rest Rundown, so you're learning different techniques as you're going through. Even if you don't want to do the whole body version—if you just want to stick with the typical split where you're doing chest and triceps, you can incorporate these techniques that you're doing.

Now the one thing I will say—people who follow me have been hearing me say this for quite a while—is I've done no cardio all this year, 2017, because I've had four knee surgeries. I completely severed my quadriceps tendon twice, and I went through four surgeries due to complications. That was all this year—this happened January this year—so I wasn't walking for probably the first half of 2017, and even today I can't really do—I can't run, I can't really jump, I can barely do deadlifts and squats, so I've done no cardio. The only thing I've been doing is literally what you just saw right here, full body workouts and keep changing up the technique. And so the results speak for themselves.

You're not looking at someone who recovered from knee surgery and then went on a diet and started training again to get in this shape. If you follow me on social media you can see me going through the surgeries and the recovery, and I never gain any more body fat—I actually lose body fat, despite having less physical activity throughout the day simply through full body training. And the real secret is the way that it targets the genes. What we now know is that everything we eat, everything we do, the results that we get from it start by activating genes in the body. When you're doing full body training daily, what you're doing is activating genes in basically most of the major muscle groups of the body. That means you're turning on metabolic genes, genes that are involved in fat burning, genes that prevent fat storage, genes that are involved in better health outcomes, longevity, overall health—these are all critical.

By exercising and stimulating those genes and all the muscle fibers of the body almost every day, you get far better results as far as fat loss.   Even muscle strength and muscle mass gains, as you might be finding out. So I'm a firm believer now in full body training. So yeah, this is really my full routine, and like I said I put it up for you guys every day on my social media. You learn the technique, I'll tell you when the rest days are, those are the days you learn what the next technique is, and it continually changes. It's literally never the same thing any one workout. Every workout is different from the other.

Grip Strength Training

Question: "What do you recommend for grip strength?"

With grip strength, I definitely don't recommend avoiding the use of wrist straps for grip strength. Don't buy into that "Oh don't use wrist straps, build up your grip". Look, if your grip is weak and it's holding you back on rows or deadlifts? Use wrist straps. You don't want to punish the target muscle group for having the weak grip. So focus on the target muscle group. Then train your grip when it's time to train grip, not when it's time to train back or legs. So don't worry about—use straps, it's not going to weaken your grip as long as you train your grip.

With grip it comes down to a few things: You have grip strength, you have pinch strength, and then you have forearm development. Those are all three different things that everybody confuses. So doing wrist curls isn't going to necessarily increase your grip strength. It'll increase your wrist strength to some degree, but it's more about hypertrophy of the forearm muscles. You want to train grip separately from forearm training, or maybe combine it, but you don't want to replace if you're trying to get a stronger grip. Forearm training with grip training—you don't want to confuse the two. You need to do specific grip style training.

Grip training, specifically, you want to do things like the hand crush is a great exercise, that closing movement. Also for pinch—which like I said is different—pinch grip is a different type of strength. For pinching grip, what you can do there is use plates. Sometimes when they have ridges it's easy to cheat because your fingers grab onto the ridges, but what you can do is the plate pinch where you're going to stand and hold it at your side for as long as you can until they slip out of your hands, and then switch. So that pinch grip and grip strength are a different thing. The other thing you can really do is check out my father's social media. My dad, Jim Stoppani Sr., is actually a grip strength pro. He actually has a few records under his belt, so check out his page as well for his grip training advice.


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