Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Size Summary

short 2 sizeTime for me to stop being lazy and let’s get started with another program. Jim Stoppani is a well-respected name among bodybuilders and power lifters. He has a PhD in Exercise Physiology and a minor is biochem from University of Connecticut, written numerous post-doctorals on various topics of weight lifting… I think it’s safe to say this man knows his stuff when it comes to the Iron Church. He’s trained celebrities from LL Cool J to Dwayne Johnson. Oh, and at 47 years old he has a better physique than most people have in their 20’s! Scientist by day and freak beast in the gym!

He has numerous free “shortcut” programs, his latest being “Shortcut to Size”. After completing 4Weeks2Shred it’s time to start bulking up and putting on some weight!

Since 4Weeks2Shred I’ve been on a rampage in the kitchen, it seems like I can never get full! Do you ever have those days or even weeks where all you want to do is eat? Well that’s me 24/7 and with my recently added anxiety of house hunting I’m stress eating like a mad man. I’m going to channel this hunger to eat healthy food and hopefully put on some quality muscle in the next 3 months! Shortcut to Size is a 12 week program based off of the old bodybuilder’s philosophy, Lift Big, Eat Big, Get Big!  Let’s take a look at what Jim has in store for the next 12 weeks!


Day 1: Chest Triceps & Calves

Day 2: Back Biceps & Abs

Day 3: Rest

Day 4: Delts, Traps Calves

Day 5: Legs & Abs

Day 6: Rest

Day 7: Rest

Shortcut to Size is set up with 4 training days per week. I will be implementing the “active” rest day philosophy by performing cardio on those days.  Jim plans to use periodization in the program to promote muscle growth. Periodization is the process of using specific rep ranges or training style for a certain amount of time then changing the rep or style. Each smaller unit or a periodization program is called a phase. In typical periodization programs, phases last for many months but with Shortcut to Size these phases are shortened to one month. Jim uses 3 phases, each consisting of 4 weeks which he calls “microcycles… are you as confused as I first was? Take a look at the graph below.

Shortcut to size

These microcycles are designed to increase strength and size. Microcycle 1 starts at our lowest weights at 12-15 reps. Every week following, the weight is increased and reps decreased. Microcycle 2 is 9-11 reps, microcycle 3 is 6-8 and the phase 1 is complete after microcycle 4, 3-5 reps. Then we start all over with phase 2, except we start 5lbs heavier than we did in phase 1.

Rinse, wash and repeat on to phase 3. Each progressing phase you should be stronger than the last. This type of training gives you the best of both worlds. In microcycles 1 and 2 the higher reps achieve muscle growth (size) and during microcycles 3 and 4 the higher weight promotes strength increase! After 3 months of this we should expect size and strength to increase all around!

If I’m supposed to increase my lifts by 5lbs each month then I’ll set some realistic goals of 15lbs heavier on all my big lifts; bench, squat, shoulder press, bent over row, and deadlift. Let’s make my goals public to keep myself accountable.

Lift Current (3-5 rep max) Future (3-5 rep max)
Bench 225 240
Squat 305 320
Dumbell Shoulder Press 65 75
Row Good question, never rowed 3-5 reps 10+ from phase 1
Deadlift 315 (Lower than I’d like due to herniated disc) 330



Shortcut to sizeBring on the bulk baby! Any nutrition plan that tells me to eat gummy bears or candy after my workout is a nutrition plan I can get behind! No really, I’m guided by a PhD doctor in Exercise Physiology to eat pixy stix or gummy bears! How cool is that? The nutrition looks like the old school bodybuilder’s diet, eat lots of protein!

On non-training day I’ll be eating:

 1.5g protein/lb  |  1.5g carb/lb  |  0.5g fat/lb   |  17cals/lb

270g protein     |  270g carbs  |  90g fats       |  3060 calories

Training days I’ll be eating the same meals but adding pre & post workout carbs and proteins bring the total up to:

1.8g protein/lb  |  2g carb/lb  |  0.5g fat/lb  |  21 cals/lb

325g protein     | 360g carbs |  90g fats     | 3780 calories

For the most part the diet consists of “clean foods” such as lean meats, whole grains, and good fats such as omega 3’s but there is wiggle room for some delicious questionably healthy food. The important thing while bulking to get the calories in! I will take one for the team and eat everything in sight if I have to in order to hit my macro goals.

Let’s get something straight. Bulking is not pretty! No matter how clean you eat you WILL gain fat. Our bodies are not 100% efficient and cannot turn every extra calorie into muscle. The focus should be on our strength and size increase. The fat gained should be kept to a minimum but will still mess with your head. Watching your abs disappear and definition turn to flab is difficult but if you stay strong you will see serious strength and size gain and be able to get back to your starting leanness in no time!

If you want to gain some size and strength follow Shortcut to Size with me and let’s compare results I’m excited to follow Dr. Jim Stoppani! Let’s put this modern day Doctor Jekyll to the test in hopes to become Mr. Hyde in the process!  If you’ve done this program or any other weight gaining program leave a comment below and tell me how it went for you!

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  • Collin Tether

    So I am a part time lifter due to my busy schedule of work, full time gf/fiance and just plain lack of motivation to eat correctly. I find it very hard to be motivated feeling that I have zero personal time, however after reading your articles closely especially the one where you dive into how to schedule your time to be more productive, I have been inspired. As not the most knowledgeable individual on diets (not to mention the whole motivated thing again), what are some of the meals that you make for yourself that are both flavorful and nutritious? Quite frankly when I do get to the gym on a regular basis I find that my complimenting “diet” is pretty much rice, chicken and veggies. Although I like each of those things, they do get boring very quickly, thus leading me to a lot of cheat meals. What do you recommend EG and/or what do you do to make your meals “interesting” and different from the last?

    • EngineeredGains


      I’d suggest that you download MyFitnessPal or Fatsecret to begin by getting into the habit of logging your food. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a bore! For example last night I had a shredded chicken burrito. Cooked in the crock pot with salsa and use a whole wheat wrap topped with spinach and a side of broccoli. Both healthy and nutritious.

      I think that’s where MyFitnessPal comes in. Healthy food doesn’t have to taste like garbage. be creative and experiment with your meals. If you are restricting your calories but you want steak then eat steak. Use a scale, measure it out and log it accordingly.

      Also there are numerous websites, instagram and pinterest accounts dedicated to just healthy meals and even desserts! It’s all about finding something that works for YOU. It should be looked at as a lifestyle change instead of just a short term diet so play around with your meals, be creative, and make a plan that you not only can stick to but want to stick to!