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4-Minute Muscle Q&A Live Video Transcript

Feel the burn with this blistering timed program. The full transcript of my live Q&A and tutorial on the 4-Minute Muscle program

4-minute muscle live 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.


Hey JYM Army. So today I'm covering—it's going to be a 4-Minute Muscle tutorial. For those of you who are following along with my Train with Jim series, I post my workouts right here on Facebook every single day, and today we're doing 4-Minute Muscle. If you're following along, I’m going to show you how to do a full-body workout with one exercise per muscle group, 4 minutes per muscle. Basically, we're going to do 10 exercises, so it's going to be about 40 minutes with breaks in between exercises. You should be done in under an hour—most people can get it somewhere around 50 minutes—for a complete workout here. I'll be demonstrating with the cable cross-over in a minute for myself.

Question: "What if you finish all of the reps before 4 minutes are up, like you went too light?"

Let's start with the rundown of what 4-Minute Muscle is and what your guidelines are going to be.

Training Frequency

Question: "How many times a week is a good gym routine?"

Well really it depends on your experience, but there’s nothing wrong with doing some form of exercise every single day. You really want to stay active, it doesn't have to be in the gym. But I'd say make sure you're in the gym lifting at least 3 times a week if you're a beginner. That should increase as your experience goes up.

Question: "Can I do the 4-Minute Muscle with dumbbells?"

Yes, as a matter of fact if you read the article I show you how to do that.

The Full-Body Mash-Up Program

Alright so let's do a breakdown on the 4-Minute Muscle. So the 4 Minute Muscle, basically it's what the name really implies. You have 4 minutes to complete as many reps as you can get on that one exercise with the same weight. In 4 minutes, how many reps can you get? You're going to use a weight that limits you to somewhere around 12 to 15 reps—should be a good sweet spot, somewhere in there—that should be the weight that you select. And then what you're going to do is, by the end of those 4 minutes, you have a marker to shoot for. You should be able to get at least 36 reps—if you can't get 36 reps in the 4 minutes with the weight you selected, then you went a bit too heavy, or if it just wasn't too heavy you were resting too much. However, if you complete more than 45 reps in those 4 minutes, that means you can increase the weight.

Go to JimStoppani.com and click on my Full-Body Mash-Up, that's what I'm currently doing. I'm doing two weeks of this Mash-Up, and what the Mash-Up is is basically—I've been doing the Train with Jim series since 4th of July weekend, that's when I launched it with 4-Minute Muscle. We've done 12 different techniques since July. It's now September, we've covered 12 techniques and as people—a lot of people don't realize that they're getting my personal workouts—you're getting to follow along, and you learn something. This isn't just me going "Do this exercise." This is "We're going to switch it up. We're going to use this technique. This is why, here are the benefits, here's how you do it" and we keep changing because, remember, my number one motto is to keep changing it up.

So we're going through all the different techniques. 12 of them. But instead of doing it like last time—I did 4-Minute Muscle and I had you do it four times so that you could try to increase and beat your time and get better—here we're just going to sample. This is like a sample crash-course for those who are coming in late, who didn't realize I've been giving out my personal workouts every single day, who are going “Wait, I want to get in on this.” So we're going to go through the 12 techniques that we've been using, just sort of crash-course one workout each. Then we're going to move on. So we're going to start with 4-Minute Muscle today; that's today's workout. Tomorrow, we're going to do my 5 System and then so on. Every Sunday, we'll take a break.

Breaking Down 4-Minute Muscle

I talk a lot about the benefits of full-body training. It's the training style that I've been using to great benefit. It allowed me to really not only not gain body fat during my four leg surgeries, but I was able to actually get leaner during the process—with zero cardio, just doing full body workouts. And so today we're going to kick it off with 4-Minute Muscle. You have 4 minutes to complete as many reps—use a weight you can lift for around 12 to 15 reps—and your goal is to get at least 36 reps. If you didn't, you went too heavy. If you shoot over 45 reps, it means you went a little bit too light. And typically, when we use the 4-Minute Muscle, you're then going to use that as your marker and increase the weight or try to—with the weight you couldn't hit 36 reps—you're going to try to nail it next time at that same weight. That's the challenge.

But I'm just giving you a sample course so you can give it a try. That's the other nice thing about these techniques, you can either do them more organized as a program or you can do them, like I'm showing you, for a few days and then move on. Or even less organized—you can just throw these in. Even if you're doing a regular split like chest and triceps you can go and decide "You know what? I'm going to do 4-Minute Muscle chest and triceps" or you can go in and say "You know what? I’m going to do one exercise 4-Minute Muscle style for chest, or triceps. I'm going to do my other stuff, too, but in addition, I'm going to throw in one set of 4 Minute Muscle." There a number of ways you can do this.

Weight is 12 to 15 reps, somewhere in that range, and you've got 4 minutes to get it done. Your goal is between 36 and 45 reps. I'm going to do a set right now. Give me 4 minutes to bust out some cable crossovers, and that way you can see, "Yeah, I'm doing it exactly the way you're doing it". Pretty simple.

Now, you can use different techniques as far as the reps and the rest ranges go. Remember, if you go to all-out failure on the first one, you're not going to be nailing many reps on the successive sets and you're going to need far more rest. So you can either go for more reps—then you're going to need more rest time—or you can just cut it just short of failure but keep your rest time to a minimum, which in the end is going to be absolutely brutal. It's your call. You can play around with a few different techniques of the 4-Minute Muscle. I'm going to do it on cable crossover right now.

I'm going to stop at lucky 13. Now I may have gone a bit light, I haven't been training much in my home gym due to my knee issue, so I thought that the weight I used was going to be about my range. Might be a little light. Don't worry about it. So 13 reps, jumping right back into it. 23, two and a half minutes remaining. Basically doing rest pause.  29, reps start dropping as the fatigue sets in. Now you'll notice I keep my torso upright to hit more lower pec as well as outer and inner with cable crossovers. 35, one short, and I've got a minute twenty so I definitely did not go too heavy. Let's see if I went too light. 40, I'm close. 44, ten seconds left, 45, 46. 4 minutes are up.

I got somewhere around just above 45, so a little too light. So if I'm going to repeat this now with this exercise to test myself, I'm going to try—I'm using 20lbs here, my cable crossover runs on the heavy side but that wasn't heavy enough for me—so I'll go up to 25lbs next time, give it a shot and see where I fall. It's really that simple. 4 minutes, and then if you're doing this full-body—check out the exercises: Cable crossovers, next is pulldowns, or you can even do pull-ups if you're good at pull-ups. I'm actually planning on doing that; instead of pulldowns, I did pull-ups because I can bust out about 12 to 15 pull-ups, so should be a perfect way for me for 4-Minute Muscle.

Targeting Lower Pecs

Question: "What's the best lower pec workout?"

With cable crossovers, it’s a great exercise to focus on the lower pecs because, when you think about the position of the body and the torso, it's essentially like doing a decline. The arms come down towards the stomach more versus coming out perpendicular to the body. When you get down here more it's like making you declined—this motion uses those lower pecs. So I keep my torso more upright when I'm doing cable crossovers to focus on the lower pecs, because we're hitting the middle and upper with all other versions of flyes and presses.

4-Minute Muscle Workout Duration

Question: "How long does it take to do the workout?"

This one specifically—4 minutes, if you're doing 10 exercises, do the math. As quick as you want to move between those exercises, it's going to take you at least 40 minutes or you could do fewer exercises.

Making Gains with Full-Body Training

Question: "Six Weeks to Sick Arms is an amazing workout, one of my favorites."

Definitely. I want to say right here, as you guys have been following with my full-body training—I'm a full proponent of full-body training, particularly for myself at my age—overall, I don't want to focus on just getting bigger arms, ok? My arms are big enough, and I'm at my genetic limit. So I'm working on building different areas of the biceps, building different areas of the delts, versus overall mass. I want to keep myself lean, that's most critical. I want to still build muscle, but I'm limited to what I can build. So why should that be my major focus? I still want to get strength gains but again, at my age I can only get so much stronger naturally. Of course I want more endurance, and I want more health. The best way is definitely through full body training.

However, as you were saying if your goal is bigger arms? Sure! Full-body training can help you get bigger arms. I think most people would say I've put on muscle mass during the recovery from my surgery while dropping body fat at the same time, thanks to the full-body training. But if you really want to focus on maximizing arm size you do Six Weeks to Sick Arms. If you really want to maximize overall muscle mass gains you do my Shortcut to Size. If you truly want to maximize strength gains, you do my Shortcut to Strength or one of my other strength programs. This full-body training is for people who want overall general benefits.

You can make it more specific to your goal—if it's more strength oriented, you know a lot of powerlifters today and strongman competitors are telling me they train every day as well. The frequency seems to be the key, because it's about activating genes in muscle tissue and the only way to activate genes is to get in the gym and do something. And if you're only activating genes in one muscle group, well—you're missing out on a whole bunch of other genes you could be activating every day, which is going to help keep your metabolism up, which is going to help to keep muscle growth processes up, and even strength gains.

Using daily training can be very effective for those goals but it's going to be quite different. What I'm doing here is going to provide a variety of all those goals. You're going to get stronger—watch the comments from the people who've been following along with the Train with Jim, they'll tell you. They're getting leaner—it's crazy how lean they get when you start doing full-body training, and I don't mean 3 times a week, full-body training. I'm talking at least doing it five times a week like my Daily Grind, or here where we're really doing it around 5-6 times a week. They also say they're gaining muscle. They also say they're gaining strength, endurance, they feel better—those numerous benefits.

But like I said, if you want to focus on different goals, I'm not saying to chuck out all my other training programs. You can do those. You can also include this as an adjunct to your training. You know research shows that training once a day is not enough. Doesn't mean you need to go to the gym twice a day—doesn't mean you need to go to the gym any time of day—it just means you need to stay active all day long. So there are certain JYM Army members showing that you can follow one of my other programs and include this.

Like I said, I don't have to do cardio, I can't. I had knee surgery, I can't really run. I still have issues walking. The leg is much better, but I'm not able to do any true cardio. I stay this lean because it basically replaced my cardio. So if you're doing one of my other programs where you're not doing full-body training, you can include this as your cardio. Instead of doing cardio, do my full-body workout. Now you might not want to go as intense as I am, you might want to drop the sets a bit—if I'm doing 2 sets on some of those more intense techniques, do 1. If I'm doing 3, do 2, or even do 1, or you can drop some of the exercises. There are numerous ways to include them, but don't be afraid that you're going to "overtrain" as long as you're following a proper diet.

Variety: the Key to Progress

Question: "I love that motto! 'The best workout is the one you're not doing'"

That gets right into that point of change. People always ask me "What's the best exercise for chest?" and I tell them "The one that you're not doing." That's the best exercise for you, because you've probably been doing the same exercise selection—if you're asking me what the best exercise is, it means you haven't found it yet. You're still looking. You haven't gotten the results you want? It's probably because you're not changing things up enough.

Training Following an Injury

Question: "What is a good workout to do after knee surgery?"

I went through four knee surgeries. Like I said, the full-body workout is the best thing to do. Obviously, you're going to train around the leg. I just trained my left. Contralateral training basically means that you're training the limb that's not damaged, so if you have a cast on and you can't use your leg, you would still train your—let's say it's your right leg like mine—you'd still train your left leg. Because of the nervous system and the way that the nervous system works, it still benefits both sides of the body. It helps actually maintain some strength and muscle mass. Now, it's not like it's going to prevent all your muscle loss or strength loss, but it'll help by at least limiting how much you lose, training the other side.

So I would literally just jump along—this is the perfect thing for you right now, because you don't really want to be killing it. I'm not saying that my workouts don't kill, because they do, but it allows you to adjust the intensity. What you'll be doing is training your upper body every day, which will help you prevent fat gain because you can't do any cardio with that leg. So join in, lower the intensity, and you'll see I do a lot of single leg exercises because I can't do heavy weight on bilateral moves for both legs.

Modifying with Limited Equipment

Question: "Could you do one-rep cable crossover single arm for those who only have one rack?"

If you don't have the dual cable station and you only have one side and you want to do cable crossovers? Then yes, you can do them single arm. It'll just take you twice as long doing 4 minutes per arm, but you can do it this way. Another thing you can do is bands. If you don't have cables you can use bands, and either do cable crossovers with one arm or even set it up so that you can get it to do two. You'll see that I'm using bands for a lot of those exercises. You can see the exercises that I choose to mimic the versions that we do in the gym. 

Bigger Grips for Bigger Gains?

Question: "What are your thoughts on big grips that go over the bar?"

Thick bar training can help increase grip strength. Normally, when you grab a barbell it's one inch in diameter. But you can go with thicker bars—two inches, even three inches—which makes it a challenge to hold it, and that increases grip strength. A lot of people say "You should just train everything that way." Well no, because research shows that—particularly on pulling exercises like deadlifts, rows, curls—you tend to be weaker with a fatter grip.

Pressing exercises, it doesn't seem to be as critical, but on pulling exercises you could be limiting the weight you use, meaning if you're doing rows with the fat bar? You're limiting the weight that you're using because you can't go as heavy with the fat bar, which means you're going to limit the overload placed on your lats. You're going to undertrain your lats, essentially, to train your grip. If you want to use those fat bars—or you can buy bars that are specifically fat, you'll see them in a lot of strongman gyms because that's a challenge that strongmen have to do. They have to be able to lift these huge dumbbells with massive-sized grips that they can't just get a good grip on and lift it—makes it quite challenging.

For those of us who aren't professional strongman competitors, if we're doing rows you're doing rows to build a big back, not to increase your grip strength. So focus on doing the rows with a normal sized bar. You can do fat bar stuff specifically for grip training later on. You can do things like farmer walks and whatnot with the fat grips to really focus on your grip. Don't limit your back or arm training and the weight that you can use on those muscles because you want to use a fat bar to train your grip. And no, the fat bar does not improve muscle mass size—there's no data showing that it increases bicep size, it simply just makes it harder to do curls because you can't grab the bar. So no, it's not going to increase biceps size. It's a tool to increase grip strength, that's simply what it is.

Gene Activation and Variety for Mass Gains

Question: "I got great arm development on Daily Grind as well"

It comes down to instigating the genes that are actually in the muscle fibers. When I was at Yale School of Medicine that's what I studied: The way that diet and exercise affect genes right there in the muscles. When I was at the University of Connecticut we studied a lot about systemic hormones: Growth hormone, testosterone release. I was always interested in more of the local factors. Well, testosterone, growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor, are important in the circulation—turns out that the local factors are far, far more critical, and so what you want to be doing is instigating these genes and turning them on.

If you're only turning genes on in your chest for muscle growth once a week, you're limiting your overall potential to some degree. Remember, change is good. Shortcut to Size, you train each muscle group once a week, and people gain 30lbs of muscle. How does it work if I'm telling you that you need to instigate your genes every single day then? Because there are many ways that muscle grows. We know so little about the way that muscle grows that really the only thing we know right now is that change is good, so keep changing up your training programs. Now, for me, I'm a firm believer in a higher training frequency for the overall benefits that I want, but if I want to maximize muscle growth then I'm going to switch it up. I'm going to train once a week sometimes, each muscle group in some periods. Switch it up.

Workout Pacing for Full-Body 21s

Question: "On 21s how long is the rest between each set?" 

That's your call. That's completely your call. You take whatever you want—if you want to speed it up, then you lower the rest. If you're not so worried about getting in and out of the gym then don't worry, take as long of a rest as you want. The shorter the rest the quicker the workout.

Full-Body Training in Addition to Your Program

Question: "I'm using Three-Prong Strong as the base for my full-body workout"

You see? This is what I talk about. It's that saying, "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, or you can teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime." When you look through my programs, I don't just design them to give you results. I design them to make you really think and learn about training: Why you're getting results when you do this, when you do that, how's it different. What he's showing is that he's learning. He's listening and learning and adapting and changing it up to his needs. He's going "Oh Jim's talking about this full-body training, more frequent, that's pretty interesting. I want to get stronger. Three-Prong Strong...how can I combine them both?" and he figured it out on his own.

The JYM Army

That's what I'm talking about. Take what I tell you and adapt it, and use the pieces that work. You don't have to listen to every single word I'm telling you and do it the exact way that I do it. My life might be different from yours, and that's what's also so great about the JYM Army Facebook group page. You have your own peers—people you're going to find who are doing my Train with Jim series who have the same lifestyle as you. The only time they get to work out is in the morning, and then they're gone. Or whatever the situation is—or at night, or you're shift work—whatever it is, you're going to find other JYM Army members who have the same questions that you have, and you know a lot of them already have the answers. So get to the JYM Army Facebook group page. It's your community. These are your people. These are my people. It's us. It's about sharing knowledge and keeping everything positive.

I'll tell you right now, if you're going to go there and start BS, telling people who make amazing transformations, "Oh nice job but you've still go to 20lbs to go" I don't want to see any of that crap. If that's your attitude, you need an attitude adjustment. We can't really help you. I mean, hopefully, you'll get the energy from us to change that attitude, but if you're going to keep attacking people like that and not giving them the positive feedback for the results and the accomplishments that they're making, then we see right through you. You're the person who has the issues. Don't waste our time on the JYM Army Facebook group page, please. It's a place where we share knowledge and we motivate and inspire one another. Nothing else, please.

Hope you guys enjoyed that. Like I said, you will see me pop up from time to time, so stay tuned on your phones or computers. You never know when I'm going to pop up to give a little tip on training, nutrition, supplements, lifestyle, what have you. I'll see you around, and as always stay JYM Army Strong.


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