The 4-Hour Body

Finally finished reading it.

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman
The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss is a pretty good book. I don’t agree that eating first thing in the morning accelerates fat loss and I think the Geek to Freak chapter is dishonest. However, the book is fun. I’m sure anyone with even a passing interest in fitness or nutrition will find something that sparks their interest. Tim is really good about being an ambassador to some of the great minds in fitness.

People have already started asking me my thoughts on the Slow Carb Diet. My opinion is it is much better than the standard American diet and that many dieters could benefit on that plan. I can see how this diet combined with a cheat day would be easier to follow than a paleo diet. Is it superior? The best diet is the one that inspires you and the one that you stick to and follow. For me it would be a huge step backwards, but I’m already at my ideal weight and not the target audience for this chapter.

If I were to change one component of the Slow Carb Diet it would be the legumes section. I do not see a reason to EVER consume non-fermented soybeans. The other beans aren’t great either, unless they are properly soaked and sprouted. Beans have phytates which block mineral absorption. Soaking and sprouting disables the phytates and it is easy to do.

The highlight of the book for me was the Reversing Injuries section. I knew about wearing flat shoes and have been doing Egoscue exercises for a decade, but I was unaware of some these other techniques. I’m injury free now, but knowing about these other excellent strategies is worth the price of the book. There is also an excellent appendix called Spotting Bad Science, which should be required reading for every medical reporter.

What sparked my interest the most? Probably the bench press chapter. I’ve always had trouble with that exercise. This summer I will try out his plan.

How Tim Ferriss REALLY Gained 34 Pounds of Muscle in 28 Days

Although I plan to do a full review once I’ve finished reading the 4 Hour Body, I have to stop and comment on the chapter From Geek to Freak. In this chapter author Tim Ferriss gained 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days. It is a trick and I’m going to tell you how he really did it.

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman
The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss

Before I expose the trick, let me say that I believe everything Tim posted about having his measurements validated by the Human Performance Laboratory. I also agree that his training and eating protocol are solid programs for mass gaining. It’s the expectation that bothers me. Gaining 34 pounds of muscle in a month is not even close to being a realistic goal. I wish it were.

#1 The Easiest Way to Gain Muscle is to Regain Muscle

Gaining a pound of muscle is hard work. It is far easier to let an existing pound of muscle atrophy and then regain it. Anyone that has had an arm or leg in cast knows this to be true. Did Tim gain new muscle or regain lost muscle? Let us put together the clues on Tim’s true weight. From page 183.

I weighed 152 pounds throughout high school, but after training in tango in Buenos Aires in 2005, I had withered to 146.

The implication here is that Tim was weight stable at 152 and then dropped 6 pounds. But that isn’t true. In Tim’s first book, he openly discussed weight manipulation tricks he used in a 1999 kickboxing competition.

Using dehydration techniques commonly practiced by elite powerlifters and Olympic wrestlers, I lost 28 pounds in 18 hours, weighed in at 165 pounds, and then hyperhydrated back to 193 pounds.

By not stating the extreme weight fluctuation between high school and the start of the experiment is highly misleading. Since high school, Tim had gained and lost a significant amount of muscle. The easiest way to gain muscle is to regain muscle. I covered this in the post How Mickey Rourke Gained 27 Pounds of Muscle For The Wrestler. In that post I dropped in a quote from the Journal of Applied Physiology.

data suggest that rapid muscular adaptations occur as a result of strength training in previously trained as well as non-previously trained women. Some adaptations (fiber area and maximal dynamic strength) may be retained for long periods during detraining and may contribute to a rapid return to competitive form.

Tim’s trick was Mickey Rourke’s trick. Gain a bunch of muscle. Let your muscles atrophy. Take some before photos at a ridiculously low weight and then regain the muscle quickly. The problem with this chapter is that most of the readers are not in a position to regain what they never gained in the first place. This is why Neil Strauss gained 10 pounds of muscle in his 4 weeks and not 34 pounds. Ten pounds is commendable and it is more realistic for an untrained lifter that is working out hard and eating like crazy.

#2 Steroid Use?

On page 154 Tim Ferriss stated:

I have legally used low-dose anabolic steroids and other growth agents under medical supervision both before and after joint surgeries.

Has he used any other steroids? Ever? Legal where? How long before? How long after? That sentence seems like an awkward way to end a path of questioning. I don’t know if Tim Ferriss ever took anabolic steroids outside of his joint surgeries. The way that sentence was written makes me suspicious.

Anyone remember the original Body For Life contest back in 1997? A few of the male competitors made amazing transformations in 12 weeks. So much so that when pressed they confessed to prior steroid use. At the time I was living in Florida and I met a bodybuilder that was working on getting into the Body For Life contest. He stopped taking steroids and stopped lifting weights. He was working on his before photo. He knew that regaining his muscle would be no problem for the contest.

How Tim gained the muscle from high school to 1999 is the least relevant part of this story. I only bring it up because this is the part some people will focus on. Muscle is muscle regardless of how it is built.

#3 Lean Mass and Water

Here is a secret that the supplement companies don’t want you to know about. It has to do with how lean body mass is calculated. By super-hydrating, you will increase your lean mass. Brad Pilon exposed how this was done in a video last year. In a single workout, he was able to increase his lean mass by 8 pounds. The gain was all water, but since none of it was fat, it is counted as lean mass. Not lean muscle. Lean mass. This is one trick used to sell muscle gaining supplements.

How I Gained 8 lbs of LEAN MASS From Just 1 Crazy Workout

Let’s review Tim’s sentence about his hydration tricks again.

Using dehydration techniques commonly practiced by elite powerlifters and Olympic wrestlers, I lost 28 pounds in 18 hours, weighed in at 165 pounds, and then hyperhydrated back to 193 pounds.

Did he gain 28 pounds of lean mass in 18 hours? Yes, but it was all water.

Putting it All Together

Tim’s weight by his own words went from 152 to 193 back down to 146. He then gained 34 pounds of muscle in 4 weeks. No he didn’t. He regained it using some combination of lost muscle from previous gains and hydration. One summer I had my left leg in a cast. I lost a lot of muscle, but once the cast came off I made miraculous muscle gains. There was no miracle. It was just my leg returning to where it left off before the cast. Tim’s experiment was a grand version of the same thing.

I’m not a hater. I am a fan of Tim Ferriss. He is the brother I wish I had, however this chapter is a hoax. Gaining muscle takes time and effort. Once you get past your beginner gains, it can be a slow process. Don’t be fooled by ridiculous claims. It is usually someone trying to profit from your desire to take a short cut.

Initial Impression of The 4-Hour Body

Today The 4-Hour Body was released on Amazon and other book stores. I happened to be near a Barnes & Noble, so I stopped in to scan the book. This is my initial impression.

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman
The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss is a beast of a book. It is really a textbook. After scanning the book for more than 10 minutes, I came to the conclusion that Tim Ferriss and I are on similar paths and we each draw from many of the same mentors.

Some ideas that popped out in the book and his recent podcast interview:

  • Paleolithic and cyclical ketogenic diet. I’ve been all over the paleo diet and have been planning on starting a cyclical ketogenic diet on December 22nd (start of winter).
  • Cold Weather training. You know I like that.
  • Alignment exercises with props to Peter Egoscue. I’ve been a fan of Egoscue exercises for almost 10 years.
  • Tim likes Pavel’s training method. This is the 5 rep protocol I started in 2001. I met Pavel in 2004.
  • In the podcast he brought up Charles Poliquin in reference to fixing a shoulder injury. I’ve been reading Poliquin since the mid 1990s and credit him with being the lead on sleeping in a completely dark environment for enhanced performance.

My early review is this book is going to be awesome. Tim Ferriss has earned my trust. I look forward to reading this book and trying some new experiments.