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Shortcut to Strength Q&A Live Video Transcript

Breaking down the power-focused workout of my Shortcut to Strength program, and answering your questions on training, nutrition, and supplementation

Shortcut to Strength Q&A Live Video Transcript

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.

Transcript

Hey guys, Dr. Jim Stoppani here from the Bodybuilding.com headquarters gym. I'm doing my workout from my Shortcut to Strength program today. This is going to be Workout 4, also known as Day 6 of the Shortcut to Strength Program. This is the power-focused workout.

Full-Body Workout for a Full Power Boost

Now, this is a full-body workout. Although the program is not a full-body designed program—you have a bench day, you have a squat day, you have a deadlift day—the power day is a pretty much full-body. We're going to be doing nine exercises starting with some legs, moving on to chest, and then back. And we'll basically pretty much hit each muscle group with light weight and low reps. 

Now, typically that combination goes the opposite way—heavy weight and low reps. Today we're doing 3-rep sets. However, the weight that we're going to be lifting is extremely light—about 50% of your one-rep max—but you're stopping at 3 reps. It doesn't matter about fatigue in this workout. 

This workout is all about developing explosive power. That means light weight, fast reps, and not going to failure because you're targeting those fast-twitch muscle fibers, and to get them to perform with more power and strength you don't actually want to fatigue them. 

So the point of this workout is not to feel pumped and exhausted at the end. This is a very athletic-style workout, and like I said it's not designed to fatigue you or create much of a pump—it's all about developing that explosive power. 

Jump Squats for Stronger Legs

We're going to start with legs, and the first exercise we're going to do is jump squats. Typically, with jump squats it's very simple: You're going to use your bodyweight. Now, a lot of people will say, "Well, what about the overload principle, Jim? You always want to get heavier as you progress." Well, what we have found with power moves—particularly the jump squat—is you're actually better without any additional weight, using just your bodyweight. 

Now, there are a couple of reasons. First of all is safety—when you're jumping and landing with a weight on your back it's not the best thing for your spine, so you have that issue. However, what the research has actually found is because speed is so important in power development, if you go too heavy you don't develop enough power. 

What we have found on the jump squat is bodyweight is the ideal weight that you want to use. So don't be tempted to add weight when doing your jump squat—work on increasing your vertical jump for those few reps. 

So we're going to do 3 jump squat reps. Now there's a variety of ways that you can do the jump squat: I prefer to stand with about a shoulder-width stance, and when I come down I touch the ground and then I jump up. Then I come down and I reset, and then I go into my next one—down, and reset. 

You can use a more narrow stance if you prefer—come down and up. You can go wider if you want. The choice is up to you, but what I would suggest is use a stance that's similar to the stance you use when you do squats. So, like I said, for me it's about a shoulder-width stance. I'm going to come down and jump up as high as I can.

Now, I had four knee surgeries this past year, so my knee is only at about 60% so my vertical isn't that great. Bear with me. But your goal is to jump as high as you can. Just 3 reps, take about a minute or two rest in between sets. 

So that's 2 sets of 3 reps. And like I said, it's very easy—you're not going to be that fatigued—but the point isn't to fatigue those fast-twitch muscle fibers, it's to get them to perform at their best with explosive power. Somewhere around the 3-rep range, not going too much higher to cause fatigue, is the ideal rep range. 

Explosive Reps Call for More Rest

Now I won't rest as long as I would typically recommend. Even though you're not fatigued from only doing the 3 reps, you still want to give yourself at least a good minute or two of rest because the point here is not to fatigue those fast-twitch muscle fibers. Give them plenty of rest so that they're performing with the most power that they can provide. So you want to rest a little more than I'll be demonstrating this workout. I'm going to go right into Set 3. 

Power Squats

Once you're done with the jump squats, we're going to do another squat exercise: This is going to be just a standard squat. Now, here you're going to use 50% of your one-rep max. I'm only using 135lbs because, like I said, I've had a few knee surgeries this year so my leg strength is pretty limited, so I'm going to stick with 135. I'll also note that I may not be able to go down to full parallel because of the limits of my knee. So don't follow my form, but just follow the concept.

What we're going to be doing here is, again, 3 sets of 3 reps very fast, and very explosive. And what you're going to do is come down on the negative slow and controlled, and then explode up on the positive. Then you rack the weight. 

Again, like I said you're going to rest 1-2 minutes in between sets, even though those 3 reps really aren't going to fatigue you that much. The point is, again—this is not a workout to get fatigued, it's not going to cause a great sweat—you're not going to get a great sweat, but you are going to get considerably stronger and more powerful. 

Now, one of the biggest questions I get when I train is why do I train barefoot, so a lot of people are probably wondering now: Is that something that I recommend doing? No, not necessarily. I train barefoot for my own biomechanics. 

I had a motorcycle accident as a teenager, and so I have a crushed lumbar spine. What I've found is that due to the change in my biomechanics, the way that the spine is changed twists my hips—so I have one hip that's higher than the other. 

When I'm barefoot, I'm better able to adjust my foot position because I have direct contact with the floor. I find when I have shoes on it sort of numbs my feet, if you will, and being able to adjust and make those small moves that I need to do to be able to perform that movement with my wonky back is a little better with bare feet. 

Plus, I grew up doing martial arts so I'm used to training barefoot. It's just something that's very natural to me. Nothing that I would recommend everyone do—unless you find that it's just more ideal for your own biomechanics.

So now I'm going to go into my final set, number 3—again, just 3 reps here. And like I said, you'll notice I go nice and controlled on the negative. It's just the positive that you want to be fast and explosive on. 

Intermittent Fasting: When Does Your Fast Really Start?

Question: "Hey Jim, with intermittent fasting do you start counting your fast from the time you stop eating or the time you go to sleep the night before?"

I start my fast when I go to sleep, which is pretty much when I end my feeding window. So my last meal is at 12 o'clock a.m. and that's typically right about close to the time that I go to bed—I don't go to bed too much later. But you want it to end on that last meal that you've had. Once you've had that last meal, you can start counting those 16 hours or whatever your fasting window is.

Discussing Rest Times and Recovery

Question: "How important is rest in between any set? Do muscles need recovery between sets or is a continuous set needed for growth?"

Great question. Rest periods are an area—well it's one of what we call the "acute variables" when we're designing a weightlifting program. You have weight, you have exercises, you have exercise order, you have rest periods. Those are a few of the variables that we use to make up a workout. 

The rest period is typically designed for the rep range with, typically, heavier weight requiring more rest periods. However, that's all due to the energy systems that are involved in what you're training. 

So typically when you're going with higher reps, you're typically training for more endurance and so shorter rest periods tend to be used with those higher rep ranges. Whereas when you get heavier—down into the 5-6 rep range—then you typically tend to rest longer so that you have better recovery between sets. 

Some of the things that need to recover between sets have to do with creatine. This is one of the reasons why creatine is such an effective supplement. The reason that creatine works is it provides what's called "high-energy phosphates". That's basically the energy molecule that your muscles use to contract, and one of the things that have to be replenished between sets are your levels of creatine phosphate. 

The longer you rest, the more creatine phosphate you have—but also, the harder and longer you train, the faster your recovery. And so over time, what you want to do is adjust your rest periods to challenge your body. Like I said, you're going to get—your body will be able to recover much much faster the more training that you do. So what you want to do is manipulate your rest periods.

Not just based on the weight—like I said, most people rest longer during heavy sets and rest shorter during lighter sets. However, you should also be doing the same thing even with heavier sets, adjusting your rest time—some workouts resting longer so that you have better recovery and you can lift more weight. And then some workouts you want to rest less so that recovery may not be completely ready by the next set, but because you haven't fully recovered you have more fatigue. Fatigue is one of the main ways that muscles grow. 

So, yes muscles need recovery, but you also need to push those levels to really maximize muscle growth and strength gains.

Can You Cut Fat and Still Make Strength Gains?

Question: "What is your best tip for cutting fat while working on gaining strength?"

For gaining strength while you're still cutting body fat, the perfect program is really my Shortcut to Shred—great question since we're focusing on the Shortcut series. 

Now, my Shortcut to Shred program, as the name implies, really focuses on fat loss. However, it really is designed to maximize strength as well, and what people find with Shortcut to Shred is due to the cardioacceleration—which is essentially active recovery—they're actually getting stronger than they ever were.

Many people break PRs during Shortcut to Shred while they're also getting to their lowest percent body fat. So definitely check out my Shortcut to Shred. Using cardioacceleration is a great way to both burn fat—uses active recovery to help enhance your recovery and improve strength gains. 

Post-Workout Nutrition: Get the Right Protein, and Don't Forget Fast-Digesting Carbs

Question: "What's the best workout carb to take immediately post-workout with your whey isolate shake?"

So post-workout, I'll talk about two things: The protein and the carbs. First of all, he says whey isolate shake—you want to stop focusing on whey, guys. Everyone, listen to me clearly. 

Whey protein is a great protein. However, I'm as guilty as any of the other scientists for promoting whey way too much. Back in the early 2000s, when the research on whey and how fast it's digested and its branched-chain amino acid content, we all thought that whey protein was the Holy Grail and that's all that you needed, because it's the fastest, right?

Well lo and behold, what the research now shows is that whey protein's fast digestibility is both its benefit and its downfall. By that, I mean whey spikes muscle protein synthesis right after a workout—however, that protein synthesis falls sharply within an hour. 

If you take whey with a longer-digesting protein like casein, you not only get that quick spike from the whey but the casein protein maintains that protein synthesis for longer, so you get better muscle growth. 

Now, that's protein. Carbs post-workout, my recommendation is fast-digesting carbs like my Post JYM, which is pure dextrose. Now the reason I use dextrose is it has no fructose. The problem with fructose is it goes straight to the liver. That means it's a low glycemic index carb. It doesn't spike insulin. 

And what you want after a workout is a big insulin spike, because you want to recover quicker. You want to get glucose into those muscles and they need insulin. You also want to get creatine into those muscles post-workout—which you should be taking—and creatine requires insulin to get into those muscles. You also should be taking carnitine post-workout, and carnitine also needs insulin to get into the muscles. 

So post-workout, you want a fast-digesting carbohydrate—preferably a dextrose or glucose, which is the same thing. Fewer, less fructose as possible. So definitely stick with something like dextrose.

One of my favorite recommendations is gummy bears—because they have more dextrose than other candies, less of the fructose—and pixie sticks. Pixie sticks are pure dextrose, absolutely no fructose whatsoever.

Preserve Your Gains With This Bedtime Snack

Question: "Is casein protein actually effective as a bedtime snack? I've read mixed research and I'm not sure if it's actually doing anything for me."

So the question is whether or not you want to take a casein shake at night, because when you sleep—let's say you sleep for eight hours—you're essentially fasting for eight hours. Now, for people who are interested in maximizing muscle growth you really don't want to go too long without eating because you start breaking down muscle tissue to provide a glucose source for the central nervous system—your brain—while you sleep.

So one way to avoid this is you could either wake up in the middle of the night—some bodybuilders actually set their alarm clocks—or you can take a casein protein shake like my Pro JYM which has both whey and casein in it.

Now, what the casein does is—like I said before, it's a slow-digesting protein. So when you consume it, it will last up to about seven hours in the gastric system—your stomach and your intestines. And what it does is basically slowly releases amino acids into the bloodstream over the course of several hours. 

Like I said, while you're sleeping that means your body is providing an amino acid source from your diet. That way you're not breaking down the muscle tissues for those amino acids that will then be converted into glucose to fuel your brain. 

So yeah, casein protein is effective. The latest research actually shows that when it's used at night, as opposed to any other time of day, it's far more beneficial for muscle growth. 

Will Cardio Kill Your Gains?

Question: "Jim, if we add cardioacceleration to any program if fat loss is the main goal, and then followed by 20-30 minutes of steady-state cardio after, would it hinder the muscle gains or be beneficial?"

So the question is if you're even doing cardioacceleration should you then do additional steady-state if you really want to maximize muscle growth, or is that too much cardio and will that end up hindering muscle growth? It really depends on the individual.

I'm a firm believer in doing plenty of work. I'm not one of these trainers who'll tell you to be careful of overtraining. Our bodies are designed to work all day long—you're not going to overtrain. What you typically end up doing is undereating.

So as long as your diet is in check and you're getting ample protein to help continue those muscle gains, then adding the extra cardio won't hinder your muscle gains as long as you're getting plenty of protein.

Power Push-Ups

So now, I'm going to get back to the workout. To recap, we've done the first two exercises out of nine exercises in this full-body power-focused workout. Remember, we're doing extremely light weight—about 50% of our one-rep max—and only 3 reps. Once we hit 3 reps, you stop. You're not going to fatigue.

We've done legs—I did the jump squat followed by barbell squat, both fast and explosive. Now I'm basically going to do the same thing for chest. I'm going to start with push-ups. I'm going to do 3 sets of 3 reps of power push-ups, and then I'm going to move into the bench press doing 3 sets of 3 fast, explosive bench press with very light weight.

With the push-up, you're just going to get into a standard push-up position and you have a couple options here depending on your strength and power: You could either just do them very fast on the up, or you can explode and come off the ground. Choice is up to you. So I'll count that as 3 of my first one.

Now if you want to do the explosive reps but you find that your bodyweight is a little too much, you can use a bench. When I put my hands on the bench now I decrease the resistance from my body, and remember—as I was saying—with explosive moves it's about speed so if you go too heavy you won't have the speed necessary to develop that explosive power.

So if you find that you just can't really launch yourself off the ground on the push-up, try doing it on the bench. You'll get more of a launch, and like I said that helps develop better power. But again, you could stick to doing it on the ground. Most people will find that they have far more explosive power when doing it on a bench. 

So I'll finish the last 3 here. Remember you don't want to go this quick—give yourself a break in between, let those fast-twitch muscle fibers recover before you hit your next set of 3. 

Grip Tip: Using an Open Grip on Bench Presses

Now I'm going to move right into the bench press. So again, just like with the squat, we're using light weight—like I said, about 50% of your one-rep max; I'm just going to use 135lbs to demo here so we can move quickly without much rest in between. 

I'm a firm believer in using what I call the open grip, which I'll talk about in a minute. But here, just like with the squat, you're going to come down slow and controlled on the negative but explode it up off your chest. And again, stop at 3 reps. 

Now like I said, I use an open grip meaning my thumbs aren't wrapped around the bar. The thumb is on the same side as my fingers. Is that dangerous? Sure, it can be, but again it could be dangerous crossing the road if you're not careful. You just have to be aware of where the bar is on your hands, and after years of doing it there's really very little risk. 

What I find is that with the open grip, because the thumb doesn't come underneath the bar, where the bar sits in the hand is much lower. With the closed grip, the bar sits higher on the fingers and that tends to put stress on the wrist. Now, the wrist is another joint. It's a weaker joint than the elbow and the shoulder and that can limit the strength on the bench press. 

When you use the open grip, the bar literally sits down at the bottom of your palm and so when you're pressing through the forearm, the force is coming up directly through the forearm bones into the bar. And so you don't give anything due to the wrists being a weaker joint. The bar gets pressed straight up.

You'll also feel more upper pec involvement when you do it this way, and you'll feel that it's far safer on the shoulders—you have less stress on the shoulder joint. But again, what you want to do is not only use an open grip, you want to make sure that those elbows are tucked at about 60 degrees from your sides. You don't want to come out too far to the sides or that's going to lead you to a greater risk of shoulder injuries. 

Again, on the motion here, I'm not doing fast reps that are out of control like this. That's not fast reps. It's only fast on the positive—you still want to control that negative and then explode on the positive. 

And yes, here it's okay to use the legs as well. In fact, if you watch powerlifters do the bench press it's completely different from the way a bodybuilder does the bench press. For a powerlifter, the bench press is a full-body exercise. They literally start from the legs—the power drives through the legs, through hips, through the torso, and then up the arms. 

So here, when you're trying to develop that explosive power, it's okay to lift your butt up a bit off the bench and use those legs. So last set of 3, and then if we have any more questions we'll take them before we move on to the next exercise.

Is Glutamine a Must-Have?

Question: "How important is glutamine and when should it be taken?"

Glutamine is an essential amino acid, and what's interesting about glutamine is it's not one of those amino acids like beta-alanine that you're going to get quick results from—you may not even feel the results from glutamine. 

However, that doesn't mean that glutamine is useless. What glutamine is important for is immune function. Now what happens is, during an intense workout like one of mine, glutamine levels drop. You're using glutamine, you're using up that glutamine. The problem here is that your intestines, your digestive system, and your immune system use glutamine as a fuel source. 

If the body's levels of glutamine are depleted from a workout, you're more susceptible to getting a cold or flu. So you want to make sure that your glutamine levels are topped off, particularly after a workout—and that's one of the main reasons why I recommend glutamine post-workout. It enhances recovery, keeps the immune system functioning, preventing you from getting sick.

Post-Workout Nutrition Timing

Question: "Ideally, how long after working out and taking Post JYM should one wait before taking Pro JYM?"

There's no reason to wait to take either one of those products. You can take them at the same time. You could either mix them together—and I've made many of the flavors of Post JYM and Pro JYM, as well as Pre JYM and Pro JYM, to be compatible so that you can actually mix them together. 

If you try the Mandarin Orange Post JYM mixed with the Tahitian Vanilla Bean Pro JYM together makes a creamsicle flavor. That way you can take both the Post JYM and the Pro JYM at the same time. There's no reason to wait and, in fact, they're better when they're taken closer together. 

Targeting Quads with Front Squats

Question: "I've been squatting for a while, but when DOMS occur I'm only sore in my hamstrings. Do you have any tips to help my quad development when it comes to squatting?"

An interesting thing about squats and muscle involvement was discovered in the lab with weight, and what they found was that if you use more than 80% of your one-rep max—so somewhere in the 6-8 rep range—you use mainly hamstrings during the squat. 

However, if you go lighter—70% or less, so I'm talking about 10-12 reps and higher—you tend to use more quads. And this is just regular back squats with a barbell. So one trick to use is don't go too heavy—make sure that you're using a lighter weight and higher rep ranges. Make sure you're getting in some workouts where you're going 15, even 20-30 reps.

And then the other trick that you can do is to use front squats in addition to the back squat. With the front squat, it keeps the torso more upright when you're doing the squat, and that means you get less hamstring involvement, more quadriceps involvement.

Supplements for Fat Loss

Question: "What supplement would you recommend for maximizing fat loss in combination with your workout programs?"

Well, if you want to maximize fat loss I would definitely recommend my Shred JYM product. However, if you're trying to maximize fat loss you still want to focus on muscle building. 

If you're not covered with a good protein powder and a pre-workout and a post-workout to help with recovery and exercise performance, jumping right into a fat burner is probably not your best bet. The fat burning is going to come from the workout and the diet. The fat burner is a very small help to the diet and the nutrition program. 

You really want to make sure that you have your protein down, and you have those nutrients like creatine, branched-chains, beta-alanine, to help with your performance during the workout which means you're going to have a more intense workout, you're going to burn more calories, and it's going to help you get leaner.

Once you've got those areas covered in your supplements, then I would worry about the fat burner, but not until you have those other areas covered. 

How Much is Too Much? Back Arch while Benching

Question: "When it comes to a back arch, how much is too much on bench press?"

Again, it depends on the style of benching that you're doing. With a powerlifting move, you're more—if you notice, powerlifters will come—they'll put the balls of their feet on the ground and they literally will drive right off the bench. So the arch can be quite ridiculous. 

In fact, if you've seen a few powerlifters who have incredible spine flexibility they do this huge arch where literally the stomach is only a few inches below the bar. And so it's a very short move, and it's a legal bench press. 

So how much arch is really up to you and what your focus is on. If you're trying to use the bench press to maximize chest development, then you really want to make sure you have very little arch and that it's mainly the pecs that are doing the work.

If you're more focused on how big of a bench you can have, then the arch doesn't really matter and it's all about moving bigger weight.

Struggling to Hit Your Macros? Focus on Protein

Question: "I think I undereat, and I have tried eating more but I don't have much of an appetite. When I force myself to eat and I'm not hungry, I get sick. Are there tips you have to be able to maintain muscle and progress for people like me?"

First thing I would recommend is to focus on protein. A lot of times with our diet we'll get full on carb sources, and a lot of people think that they need tons of carbs to maximize muscle growth. If that's your case, what I would recommend doing is making sure you're focusing on protein and getting at least 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.

So let's say you're 100lbs, you would basically be eating 150g of protein per day. So make sure that you're getting your protein allotment for that day, then focus on fat. Fat is the other macronutrient that is critical for muscle growth and has really been demonized wrongly. And so people tend to be afraid of consuming fat when they really shouldn't be.

What we should be doing is eating far more protein and fat, and fewer carbs. When you focus on those two macronutrients—the protein and the fat—then you'll be getting in plenty of those essential nutrients—the essential amino acids, the essential fatty acids—that you need. Then you could focus on the carbs based on what your appetite is.

Another trick that a lot of teenagers I'll recommend do is to use like a mass gainer shake, like I have my Mass JYM that's coming out any day now—very soon Mass JYM will be out. What I typically recommend is using that along with meals, so with your meal you're also getting your mass gaining shake which is providing you quality protein, quality fat, and quality carb source. 

So those are two ways that you can go about trying to include more overall calories, but particularly more of the protein and the fat that's going to be essential for muscle growth.

Power Up Your Shoulders with the Push Press

Alright, so now we're getting back to the workout. I've done my legs with jump squats and power squats. I've done upper body—chest—with power push-ups and the power bench press. Now I'm going to go into dumbbell presses for shoulder.

These are basically push presses, if you will, or a standing shoulder press. And so again, we're doing 3 sets of 3, and like I said the goal is not maximizing the shoulder development—it's maximizing that power development that the shoulders can provide. And so here what we actually want to do is we want to use the legs. 

With the standing shoulder press, like I said, it's more of a push press. So you can rest the dumbbells on your shoulders and then what you're going to do is do a little dip and then press up as your legs are coming up. So your legs will initiate the momentum and then you follow with the shoulders, and that's called the push press. That's the best way to develop shoulder power. 

Again, 3 sets of 3—about somewhere around 50% of your one-rep max. You can play around with those percentages as well, trying a little lighter and even a little heavier depending on the exercise. Again, don't mimic my rest periods here—you want to rest a bit longer than I'm doing, I just don't want to bore you guys standing around resting.

So, Set 2, push presses—one more of those, and then we'll move into triceps. We're going to do close-grip bench press. We'll be right back on the bench, I'll just use the same weight. Alright, 3 sets of 3 on shoulders. 

Grip Tip: Don't Go Too Close on Close-Grip Bench Presses

Now I'm going to go right into close-grip bench press. I'll keep the weight the same. Typically you can use less on the close-grip than you can on the bench press, but I demonstrated the regular bench press with only 135lbs so I'll do the same with the close-grip.

And now, it's the same concept here: Slow and controlled on the negative, fast and explosive on the positive. Same thing, I use an open grip—and I'll talk about grip width in a minute as well. 

Now, grip width on the close-grip bench press—what the research actually shows is that—you'll see a lot of people doing what we call the "thumb touch". So they do their close-grip, they bring their hands to where their thumbs touch and then they do their close-grip. And the concept here is the closer you go the more triceps involvement you get—which is wrong.

Research shows once you've gone to shoulder width, any closer on the bar does not involve any more triceps muscle activity. All it does is increase the tension and stress on the wrist, and so you're better off sticking with, like I said, a shoulder-width grip on the close-grip bench press because you're already maximizing triceps involvement and you're reducing stress on the wrist which makes for a heavier lift.

And again, 3 sets of 3. Like I said, make sure you give yourself ample rest. I'm just going to jump right into my third one here, and then if we have any more questions we'll take a little break. 

Alright so we're down six exercises, three left to go—legs, chest, shoulders, and now triceps.

Creatine – How Much is Safe? How Much Do You Need?

Question: "How much creatine is safe to take?"

Well, we definitely know that 40g of creatine monohydrate, at least, which is used for a loading phase, is very safe. Do you need to go that high daily? No. The thing about creatine is that creatine needs to reach a certain level in muscles before it provides any benefit. So you need to make sure that you're getting enough.

If you're taking an inadequate dose of creatine it's not going to give you a little bit of results—it's going to give you no results. 

A little bit of creatine is basically zero creatine because it takes dosing over weeks and weeks to reach a certain level in the muscle before it can be effective. And so if your dose is inadequate your muscles are never going to reach the level that they need to reach before they start seeing performance benefits. And so that creatine is going to do absolutely nothing. 

So the question, then, is "Well how much then is too much?" Like I said, we know that 40—even 50—grams a day of creatine monohydrate is safe and effective. But again, that's a ridiculous amount to take. 

My recommendation on creatine—and it's based on the form—is if you're using creatine monohydrate you want to get right around 5g both pre-workout and post-workout. So about 10g a day of creatine monohydrate. 

If you're using something like creatine hydrochloride—or even kre-alkalyn, which is the buffered form of creatine—those two forms of creatine are absorbed more readily than creatine monohydrate, meaning you need far less. So with both of those you only need about 1.5-2g before and after workouts, or somewhere around 3-4g total per day.

So really, that is all that you need for creatine. Like I said, 10g a day monohydrate, 3-4g a day with either the hydrochloride form or the buffered kre-alkalyn form. 

Supplements for Beginners

Question: "How many different supplements would be too many to be taking? Do you have any recommendation on what someone at a beginner/intermediate level should be taking?"

It's an interesting question. I honestly don't think it's ever been presented to me that way—how many supplements are too much? You know, it sounds like you're a beginner so what I would say is I wouldn't worry about too much. What I would be worried about is what do you really need as a beginner?

I kind of hinted on that when I talked about the question about the fat burner. A beginner probably doesn't need a test booster, probably doesn't need a fat burner, probably doesn't need any specialty supplements. 

What you really need, first of all, is a solid protein source. Now, again, with protein powders like Pro JYM, what the benefit here is you're getting the most anabolic protein sources: You're getting dairy—which is whey and casein—along with egg. That blend is ideal for muscle growth. 

If you were eating—let's say—chicken around workouts instead of protein powder, the time it takes to digest that chicken and get to your muscles is going to be too slow to really provide a true benefit. This is the real benefit of the protein powder and why you really want to focus on protein powder, even as a beginner. 

That being said, you need whey and casein so if you don't want to spend the money on the protein powder you could get it from dairy using milk, using Greek yogurt, skyr, cottage cheese—but again, you're going to be getting a lot of carbs and fat along with that dairy to get the ample amount of protein. But you can; however, it's just much easier doing it with a protein powder.

After protein, then you want to start considering things like creatine, beta-alanine, and branched-chain amino acids, which are going to enhance your workout performance and your recovery. 

So I would start, like I said—as a beginner, look for a solid protein powder blend that has both whey and casein at the minimum, and then start looking into creatine and beta-alanine as well as branched-chain amino acid supplements for both pre- and post-workout.

Will You Lose Strength with Shortcut to Shred?

Question: "I'm about to finish the Shortcut to Strength program. I gained about 5lbs. Would I lose some of my strength gains if I did the Shortcut to Shred rather than any other strength-based program?"

Absolutely not—in fact, you will probably continue making strength gains. Like I mentioned before—I don't know if you were here in the live session when I was talking about the Shortcut series—but Shortcut to Shred? Don't let the name fool you. It's really a strength program. 

If you go and read some of the reviews of people who've completed it, you'll see. They are breaking their PRs on exercises like the deadlift while they're doing cardio in between their sets, and it's due to the fact that it's active recovery. It's actually enhancing your recovery during those sets. 

Now, when you first start the program, it'll zap you. It'll kill you. The first week or two, you'll be like, "Damn that cardioacceleration! I don't feel as strong as I normally am, because I'm running and doing step-ups in between my bench press and my squat." 

Two weeks into the program? Suddenly the cardioacceleration is no longer a huge fatigue. Now it actually turns into active recovery, and is actually enhancing your ability to recover between those sets because what it does is it keeps blood flow moving through the body. And that blood flow is bringing more oxygen, more nutrients to the muscle, and it's taking more of the waste products away from the muscle. 

So it's actually helping you recover in between sets. If you jump from Shortcut to Strength to Shortcut to Shred, I would be that you'll continue gaining more strength. 

Pro JYM Protein Bars?!

Question: "Hey Jim, when are you going to put out a protein bar?"

Good question. So I've actually been working on a protein bar, probably a couple of years now. The problem with protein bars is that I won't release it until it's A. absolutely delicious, and B. meets my macro requirements—and I mean my real macro requirements.

You know, problems with the bar industry over the last few decades have really been about truth in nutrition labeling. And many bars have been busted for false claims on how much fiber, and the carbs, and the protein. 

I've been working for the last two years on a true low-carb protein bar that's not filled with lies and promises about what the carb source is, but a true low-carb, amazing tasting protein bar. So just give me time and I will definitely have a Pro JYM bar to you very soon.

Power Deadlifts

Alright, so the last three we're going to do are—we've got the deadlift, and I'll just come right over here to the platform. So, same concept here: 3 sets of 3 reps, you want to do these explosive on the positive but you want to control the negative. Don't just be lifting it and dropping it, and lifting it and dropping it. Explode on the way up. 

So what we're going to be doing here is I'm going to drive through the heels as I lift the bar up, but then I'm going to return it nice and slow and controlled. And then explode—literally pushing my heels through the ground as I pull the bar up. 

So 3 sets of 3—and again, like I said, you want to use about 50% of your one-rep max. No this isn't really 50% of my one-rep max, but again I've got the knee limits so I'm going to stick with the 135lbs. And again, don't mimic my rest periods here, I'm just trying to condense this workout for you guys.

Now one thing I'm going to say about the deadlift is you'll notice in the top position how far back I lean. That has to do, again, with the motorcycle accident and my back. Now you'll see a lot of people comment and say, "Oh that's dangerous to lean back." No, it's not dangerous at all to lean back.

What's dangerous for the spine is to lean forward under a load. That's where you're going to pinch a nerve, pinch a disc, and cause real issues. You can extend as far back as you want with as much weight as you want, and your spine is not in a compromised position whatsoever. 

So the reason I do this is because I have back issues, so if I come up and I'm standing here my center of gravity is more forward and that's putting stress on my back. When I lean back, now my center of gravity is back and the stress is taken off my back—plus, I'm using more glutes in this position, more hamstring to pull it back. So it really helps to focus on those muscle groups that you're using. 

Grip Tip: Don't Let Grip Strength Limit Your Deadlift

And then the other thing I'll say about the deadlift is the grip. You have a few choices: I tend to use what's known as a "staggered grip", meaning one hand is over, one hand is under. It tends to be a stronger grip because what happens you're turning the bar this way and this way in the hand, and that prevents it from slipping out. Whereas if you have it both overhand, it can slip out of the hands. 

One problem here, though, is it can compromise the forearm. When you're lifting heavy weight with an underhand grip there have been reports of people putting a lot of stress on the forearm, tearing the forearm with the underhand grip. So if you have any forearm issues, you might want to stick with the overhand grip.

The other question I get asked a lot is about wrist straps on deadlifts. Now, obviously we don't need them today because we're using very light weight and very low reps, but if you're doing let's say high-rep deadlifts—you don't want your grip to be the limiting factor when you put the weight down. If that happens—if your grip fatigues before your legs do, your glutes do, and your lower back—then you really didn't adequately stress the lower body, and you ended that set way too early.

Don't limit your deadlift strength because of your grip strength. If you can't—if your grip strength is weak and you're going too heavy to lift the weight? Feel free to use wrist straps. If you're going light weight but high reps and you know your grip is going to fatigue? Use wrist straps. 

You don't need to build your grip strength and your forearm size on your deadlift. It's for the legs and for the back. Leave the forearm and grip training to forearm and grip training. If you need wrist straps on deadlifts, feel free to use them—unless of course you're a competitive powerlifter, because you won't be able to use them in competition. 

For Explosive Bent-Over Rows, Go with Dumbbells

I'll do the last set here of 3. So 3 sets of 3 on deadlifts. Now we're going to go into bent-over rows with dumbbells. You could also do this with a barbell. The reason I like the dumbbells is the range of motion that it allows. 

If I'm using a barbell the range of motion stops when the bar hits my stomach. With dumbbells I can go much higher, more range of motion, I'm using more lat muscle fibers. And because I'm using explosive movement, I want that weight to be able to move as high as possible—I don't want it to be limited by my own body. So I prefer using the dumbbells so that I have that freedom to really bring my elbows up with that explosive power.

And again, like with the push-press here, you want to use those legs to initiate that momentum. There's no such thing as cheating when it comes to explosive reps—you want to use those other muscle groups to get that momentum going. It's all about moving that weight fast and explosive.

So you're going to bring the weight all the way down to the ground, use your legs and then your arms to pull up that weight after the legs have initiated that movement off the ground. 

Now, like with the bench press, on rows I use an open grip. Same with pulldowns, seated rows, barbell rows—and the reason is muscle activity and the mind-muscle connection. When you grab a bar or dumbbell and you use a closed grip, what happens is you grip that bar and you tend to use your arms to lift the weight. With an open grip, the weight is now just hanging in your arm. Your hand is literally a hook.

And so now what happens is you initiate that movement not from the arm but from the lats, because the weight is just hanging from the hook—which is your hand. So it helps to focus more on the lats whether you're doing pulldowns like I said, dumbbell rows, barbell rows, or even seated rows. Give it a try, you'll be amazed at what that simple movement of the thumb can do for your lat involvement.

3 sets of 3, that's two I'll do one more. And again I'm going to jump right into it, speed this up. Alright, last exercise is crunches. Do we have any questions to take before?

Confused about Shred JYM Dosing?

Question: "Shred JYM says take once per day, yet most meal plans show two doses. I typically take it twice a day. Is that okay on a daily basis?"

Yes. The problem with the recommendation on the bottle is there are regulations as far as what some retailers allow—like GNC, for example. They only allow so much caffeine and so much synephrine. I don't agree with that because both are safe and effective, but because of that, I had to change the dosing instructions to just once a day on the bottle.

That doesn't mean I recommend taking it only once a day, that's just what I'm limited to saying publicly. I recommend taking it two to three times a day, as you'll see in most of my meal plans, because that's the most effective way to get the results. 

Why I Don't Sponsor Athletes

Question: "Jim, do you have any sponsored athletes? Why or why not?"

Very interesting question. I'm assuming you're asking about JYM Supplement Science and sponsored athletes. Well, the only athlete is really me—I'm the scientist, I'm the athlete, I'm pretty much everything to the brand. So that's really the reason why we don't sponsor athletes, is because I'm really the athlete of the brand. 

And I never want to pay someone to say that they use my supplement simply because I pay them. I want people and athletes to use the supplement because they truly believe it's the best supplement to take. 

Helping You Better Yourself Is What It's All About

Comment: "I've been following Jim Stoppani's programs and fitness advice for the last two years, and he has been so influential in my physical and mental health more than he'll ever know."

Awesome, I really appreciate it, and I never, ever get tired of hearing that. So if you see me out on the street, please stop by and say hi. Like I said, that's exactly why I do what I do, and I never, ever tire of hearing it. So thanks for sharing that, and congratulations—keep up the great work. 

Get More out of Your Crunches

Last exercise, we're going to do 3 sets of simply crunches. Now, here we're going to do more than 3—we're going to do 3 sets of 10 reps. Now what's really interesting about crunches and speed is most people, when they do their crunches, think that the best way to do them is slow and controlled, right? And the crunch is a very short movement. You're literally just bringing your upper back and shoulders off the ground. 

One of the things I like to recommend on crunches is you want to focus on more of the vertical movement—bringing the shoulders and back up—versus horizontal movement, bringing your head towards your knees. Don't focus on this, focus on trying to come up as high as you can. That's a crunch. It's mainly focusing on those upper abs—it's a very small move.

What's interesting is that if you think this is the best to do the crunch it's really not. What research has shown is that when you do crunches explosively like that, it not only maximizes the ab involvement but it also maximizes the oblique involvement. And so the crunch—which is typically regarded as an upper ab exercise—now is both an ab and an oblique exercise.

So you not only want to do slow and controlled crunches, you also want to do some fast, explosive crunches. And so for today's workout, we're doing 3 sets of 10. And that's really the end of the workout, 3 sets of 10. 

Now what I will say, instead of doing the 3 sets of 10—we can end it here, you guys get the point—is that when you're doing crunches not in this workout, my Shortcut to Strength, but when you're doing them in any—let's say my Shortcut to Size or any other program—one tip that you can use with these fast, explosive reps is to start your set with fast and explosive reps, maybe 8-10. 

Then once you start fatiguing and you can no longer maintain that explosive motion, now you can change into slow and controlled reps and finish out the set that way. That way you get those fast, explosive reps at the beginning of the set when they're not fatigued, so you develop the most power. But then you also do those slower, controlled reps to really work on the ab development. 

Still Have Questions? Ask Away!

I won't waste your time with 3 sets of 10 crunches, so if there are any more questions. Post your comments right on the Bodybuilding.com Facebook page and we'll be going through—we've got, I believe it's Chocolate Cookie Crunch and Cookies and Cream, two of the new Legacy Flavors, to give to you guys for free. So good luck to you guys who are hoping to get one of those jugs of protein powder. 

And like I said, social media you can find me—Facebook, Dr. Jim Stoppani; Twitter @JimStoppani; Instagram, also Jim Stoppani—I'm pretty easy to find. 

Alright guys, appreciate you hanging out and training with me. Check back here at Bodybuilding.com for more live sessions from me. 





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