Jim Stoppani’s New Year’s Challenge

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A new year is a time for new goals. It’s a time to make yourself better physically, which will in turn improve all other areas of your life. A new year is a time for new challenges, and I’m officially offering this challenge to members of JimStoppani.com: Become more well-rounded with your fitness in 2016 by taking my New Year’s Challenge.

The contest – complete with grand prizes for male and female winners, including a trip to Southern California and free JYM products and swag – launches January 8, so there’s still time to participate.

If you haven’t registered yet, you can do so here: New Year’s Challenge Pre-Registration.

Well-rounded means covering all the major bases of fitness: being lean, muscular and strong, but also having endurance, speed, power and athleticism as well as the ability to do fundamental exercises outside the gym like calisthenics and going for a run. Because after all, what’s the point of being big, strong and lean if you can’t play the occasional game of flag football, join your friends in a Spartan Race race just for the fun of it or bang out more than 20 push-ups?

I’m not expecting you to turn into Lebron James or start dominating the local triathlon circuit anytime soon. I’m simply challenging you to get better in all key areas of fitness as a means of not only looking great and feeling great, but also to open new doors of physical possibilities in your life. This falls right in line with my Wage War on Inactivity campaign – the more well-rounded you are, the more active (and healthier and happier) you’ll be.

And I have just the right program to help you get better in all areas of your fitness: Fitter, Faster, Leaner. This training plan has been up on JimStoppani.com for several months now as a 12-week program, but for the New Year’s Challenge I’ve condensed it to six weeks. Here’s an overview of the plan…

Fitter, Faster, Leaner Breakdown

I designed this program as a means of enhancing strength, endurance, speed, power and lean muscle mass – hence the name. To be more specific, you’ll increase your strength in every major muscle group, not to mention on major exercises like the bench press, squat, shoulder press and even barbell curls. You’ll increase muscle power with exercises such as power (aka “plyo”) push-ups and jump squats. The jump squats and heavy squats will also help to increase your running speed in the 40-yard-dash, which you’ll run each week, along with 30-second sprint intervals.

In addition to enhancing the “new-school” aspects of strength, power and speed, you’ll also do some “old-school” military-inspired work to increase both running and upper-body muscular endurance via weekly distance runs and push-ups, respectively. Now is the time to really work on your push-ups. How many can you currently do consecutively? Maybe 20 or 30? With my Density Training Push-Up Program (see chart below), you’ll be able to eventually do 60 push-ups non-stop if you commit to it.

Through all these different forms of training, you’ll have all your bases covered in terms of size, strength, athleticism and endurance. Is that too much to ask for? Not if you have the right training program – one that involves periodization, a method of altering training variables (such as load, volume, sets and reps) at specific times during a program to elicit peak performance. As you know, I am a big fan of periodization, mainly because science and decades of anecdotal reports prove that it works. The original Fitter, Faster, Leaner program is broken up into three 4-week phases; this version, on the other hand, will comprise three 2-week phases. It’s condensed, yes, but the same periodization principles apply.

Weight-Training

The 6-week lifting program will be a two-day split that divides the body into two separate workouts (chest, back, shoulders and abs in one; legs and arms in the other). You’ll train each muscle group twice a week for a total of four weekly weight workouts.

In the workout charts, lifting sessions are labeled Workout 1, 2, 3 and 4. Train whatever days fit your schedule best (i.e., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday), but try and make sure that Workouts 1 and 3 are separated by two full days; likewise for Workouts 2 and 4. Workouts 1 and 2 will focus on developing speed, strength and power, while 3 and 4 focus on muscle growth, endurance and fat burning.

You’ll use two different forms of periodization during the program. Power and strength workouts will follow what’s known as a linear periodization scheme, where weight progressively gets heavier over time as rep counts decrease. This form of periodization has been shown in numerous studies and in decades of use by world-class athletes to produce remarkable increases in power and strength. The exception here is on power movements like squat jumps and power push-ups, where you’ll use your own body weight. Since you can’t easily increase the weight on these exercises, you’ll instead increase reps each phase.

Muscle endurance and growth workouts will use a reverse-linear periodization scheme, which basically means that weight progressively gets lighter over time as reps increase. You’ll also be using the intensity-boosting techniques supersets (for major muscle groups) and tri-sets (for abs). In Phases 1 and 3, you’ll do supersets for the same muscle group (i.e., two chest exercises); in Phase 2, you’ll do supersets for opposing muscle groups (i.e., chest and back, biceps and triceps).

To see all weight-training workouts in the Fitter, Faster, Leaner program, use these links to downloadable workouts on JimStoppani.com:

Phase 1 Workouts (Weeks 1 and 2)

Phase 2 Workouts (Weeks 3 and 4)

Phase 3 Workouts (Weeks 5 and 6)

Cardio

You’ll perform two different types of cardio workouts throughout the 6 weeks: (1) high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to help you boost your running speed and (2) slow, steady runs to boost your endurance. Granted, I’m not a big fan of long and steady cardio – but only in terms of fat loss. When it comes to building endurance, a significant dose of steady-state cardio is a must. Plus, it’ll help with fat loss.

You’ll alternate the two styles of cardio, doing each twice a week for a total of four cardio sessions total. Cardio workouts can be done either in the same session as lifting workouts or separately. (Doing weights and cardio in different sessions, even if on the same day, is always recommended, but this may not be feasible for most people.) If done in the same session, prioritize which one you do first based on your strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you’re naturally strong in the gym but your cardio is lacking, do cardio first, and vice versa.

Cardio Workouts

Here are the cardio workouts you’ll do for all 6 weeks of the Fitter, Faster, Leaner program.

Phase 1

Week 1

Workout 1

Exercise Sets Time Rest
Sprints 3 30 sec. 4 min.

Workout 2

Run 1.5 mile

Workout 3

Exercise Sets Time Rest
40 yd Sprints 3 * 2 min.

*Time your first sprint and try to beat it each week.

Workout 4

Run 1.5 miles (try to beat your previous time)

Week 2

Workout 1

Exercise Sets Time Rest
Sprints 4 30 sec. 4 min.

Workout 2

Run 1.75 mile

Workout 3

Exercise Sets Time Rest
40 yd Sprints 4 * 2 min.

Workout 4

Run 1.75 miles

Phase 2

Week 1

Workout 1

Exercise Sets Time Rest
Sprints 5 30 sec. 3 min.

Workout 2

Run 2.0 mile

Workout 3

Exercise Sets Time Rest
40 yd Sprints 5 * 90 sec.

Workout 4

Run 2.0 miles

Week 2

Workout 1

Exercise Sets Time Rest
Sprints 6 30 sec. 3 min.

Workout 2

Run 2.25 miles

Workout 3

Exercise Sets Time Rest
40 yd Sprints 6 * 90 sec.

Workout 4

Run 2.25 miles

Phase 3

Week 1

Workout 1

Exercise Sets Time Rest
Sprints 7 30 sec. 2 min.

Workout 2

Run 2.5 mile

Workout 3

Exercise Sets Time Rest
40 yd Sprints 7 * 1 min.

Workout 4

Run 2.5 miles

Week 2

Workout 1

Exercise Sets Time Rest
Sprints 8 30 sec. 2 min.

Workout 2

Run 2.75-3.0 mile

Workout 3

Exercise Sets Time Rest
40 yd Sprints 8 * 90 sec.

Workout 4

Run 3.0 miles

Density Training Push-Up Program

Incorporated into the Day 3 weight-training workout throughout the 6-week program, this protocol is designed for a goal of completing 60 push-up reps non-stop. Start at Level 1 and once you’re able to complete all reps, progress to Level 2, etc. Don’t worry about how long it takes you to progress to the next level. In the beginning, you may be able to move up to the next level every week. But soon that will get tough and you may be stuck at a level for a couple weeks or longer. The point is to do one set every minute. Start at the top of the minute and complete the reps for that level. Rest until the top of the next minute, and then start with the second set. Continue in this fashion until all sets are completed for that level.

Level Sets Reps Time
1 12 10 12 min
2 11 11 11 min
3 10 12 10 min
4 9 14 9 min
5 8 15 8 min
6 7 17 7 min
7* 6 20 6 min.
8 5 24 5 min.
9 4 30 4 min.

*You should be able to complete 60 straight push-ups once you can complete this level.

New Year’s Challenge Nutrition

What diet you should follow during the 6-week challenge depends on your individual goals.

If you want to emphasize fat-burning to produce the leanest possible “after” photo for the contest, follow my Dieting 101 plan.

On the other hand, if you’re already lean to begin with and want to maximize size and strength (while still enhancing overall fitness and endurance), follow my Muscle-Building Rules.

 

Become eligible for the New Year’s Challenge and other similar contests in the near future by becoming a member of JimStoppani.com.