The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhumanby Published 14 Dec 2010
|The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman.pdf|
Thinner, bigger, faster, stronger... which 150 pages will you read?
Is it possible to:
Reach your genetic potential in 6 months?
Sleep 2 hours per day and perform better than on 8 hours?
Lose more fat than a marathoner by bingeing?
Indeed, and much more. This is not just another diet and fitness book.
The 4-Hour Body is the result of an obsessive quest, spanning more than a decade, to hack the human body. It contains the collective wisdom of hundreds of elite athletes, dozens of MDs, and thousands of hours of jaw-dropping personal experimentation. From Olympic training centers to black-market laboratories, from Silicon Valley to South Africa, Tim Ferriss, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, fixated on one life-changing question:
For all things physical, what are the tiniest changes that produce the biggest results?
Thousands of tests later, this book contains the answers for both men and women.
From the gym to the bedroom, it’s all here, and it all works.
YOU WILL LEARN (in less than 30 minutes each):
How to lose those last 5-10 pounds (or 100+ pounds) with odd combinations of food and safe chemical cocktails.
* How to prevent fat gain while bingeing (X-mas, holidays, weekends)
* How to increase fat-loss 300% with a few bags of ice
* How Tim gained 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days, without steroids, and in four hours of total gym time
* How to sleep 2 hours per day and feel fully rested
* How to produce 15-minute female orgasms
* How to triple testosterone and double sperm count
* How to go from running 5 kilometers to 50 kilometers in 12 weeks
* How to reverse “permanent” injuries
* How to add 150+ pounds to your lifts in 6 months
* How to pay for a beach vacation with one hospital visit
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are more than 50 topics covered, all with real-world experiments, many including more than 200 test subjects.
You don't need better genetics or more discipline. You need immediate results that compel you to continue.
That’s exactly what The 4-Hour Body delivers.
"The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman" Reviews
I know no one reads my math or exercise book reviews, but f*ck you guys because books that I can leave on the back of my toilet and read from a few pages at a time are the only books that I have been able to get through for the past six months. Do not judge me.
I mean, I do know it's kind of embarrassing. No one wants to like a self-help book. Not on here anyway. Because we're all educated, self-aware goodreaders, and when we hear that cloying, mutually congratulatory snake-oil rhetoric, we see right through it. And least of all do we want to like a guy like Timothy Ferriss. Because not only is he disarmingly comfortable with wielding the ingratiating confidence of the self-help franchise, but he's also completely fucking insane.
But that's cool with me. Do you know why? Because when I walk into a gym, I want to punch people. I want to punch almost everyone. No, not because I'm on a roid rage. And not because anyone in a gym does anything to offend me, but because exercise is so achingly simple, and almost everyone does it wrong. And so when I see girls sitting for 90 minutes on an exercise bike (at 60% max HR! Fat-burning zone!! LoL!) and then complaining that they work out 2 hours a day and can't lose weight, or when I see meatheads doing bicep curls and shrugs when they have quadriceps that look like they should be in a weelchair, I am filled with righteous indignation at whatever exercise and beauty industry brainwashed these people into thinking that these were the pathways to strength and health.
On the other hand, the principles that Ferriss uses to develop his crazy ideas are all perfectly sound. If you disagree, I will fight you.
I found myself writing down the following, aphoristically, a few days ago. The tag line was "Be one of the top 5% of healthiest Americans, in 75 words and 3 hours a week:"
Sit up straight. Whether male or female, do deadlifts, bench press, muscle-ups, and 400m sprints 3-4 times a week for about 45 minutes. Progressively increase loads. If you feel injured, stop doing that for a while. Eat lean meats, healthy oils, nuts, legumes, and a ton of vegetables. Avoid white starches, sugar in any form, and sodas like the plague. Drink lots of water. Get some sleep. Take cold showers. Stop being afraid of things.
And in a lot of ways what Ferriss has done is elaborate on this formula for 545 pages in order to make a lot of money. Which is fine by me, frankly. There's so much garbage and so many confused messages out there that anyone writing on these incredibly simple principles is on my good side.
But what Ferriss has done to make this a 4-star book instead of a 3-star book is experiment on his own body to push the envelope of what this formula circumscribes. Where he can't cite his own experience, he recounts anecdotes of prominent athletes or the highly suspect, uncontrolled experimentation of partially mad physiologists. I think this is awesome. Without modifying the essential formula, he wonders, "just how far can we take or tweak the principle?"
In some cases this results in some really weird experiments. Like torturous ice baths to exploit the thermic metabolic effect; or overdosing on cinnamon, cod liver oil, and cissus quadrangularis (I don't recommend any of these, by the way) to rapidly reconstitute the body's insulinic or testosterone response.
But in other cases, the experiments are more useful to the non-insane. For example, he cites a lot of evidence that in traditional progressive strength training and mass building, the body only needs a bare minimum of load to stimulate the desired hormonal and hypertrophic responses. In other words, if done correctly you can spend way less time in the gym for the same physiological response. I have been experimenting with this myself; so far, for hypertrophy, I have reduced the number of exercises I do to just TWO (deadlifts and bench press), and spend on them less than 30 minutes at a time, 3 times a week. So far the results have been excellent.
Now, I know this isn't science. Those who criticize Ferriss for not being scientific in his approach are missing the whole point entirely. And Ferriss even dedicates a portion of his introductory chapter to emphasize that he isn't trying to do science. He's trying to do anecdotes. In some ways, he's just presenting a Jackson Pollock of shit he's tried on his body (shit tied to sound principles, mind you), and explain what he found to work, and the quantitative evidence that suggested to him it was working. If you want to try one or two things for yourself, great! Here's a grab bag of tips and tricks.
I've had fun thinking about what physiologic pathways and mechanisms might be involved if some of the outrageous claims Ferriss makes are actually true. But more than that, this book's main effect has been a rather counterintuitive one: by providing me with a few creative, non-traditional techniques, it has reminded me just how simple the principles really are.
Anyone who read my review of 4 Hour Work Week knows that I think that Tim Ferriss is a total smug dick. That said, he is a smug dick who really seems to kinda know what he is talking about. There were a ton of super useful tips in 4HWW and he really spells things out to you to total dummy level. So when I found out he had a diet book, I figured I should check it out. This dude is the king of of shortcuts, SO if anyone was going to be helpful (and most efficient) in helping me achieve my meager weight loss goals, I figured it'd be him. At the moment I am trying out his slow-carb method, which means I eat protein, veg, and beans for 6 days on and then one mega "refeeding" (read: binge) day a week. I'm hopeful that this structure is going to work since the binge day will keep me from all the cheats through the week that keep me from achieving my goals. In addition to this, I am also regularly doing the WODs from Bodyrock.tv (which I was already doing anyway). Keep in mind, I am not on a short term diet. I am already pretty committed to eating this way (primal) and I love fitness and working out, especially weightlifting and HIIT (not so much into those other activities that are fun but slow and don't really give me that 'worked out' feeling). I hope to be back here in a few weeks with some positive results!
As for the sex part of the book, I have to take a pass. The idea of taking sex tips from someone like Tim Feriss makes me vomit in my mouth a little.
Two stars instead of one, because it was so amazingly bad I just couldn't stop reading.
Reader's digest version:
"I'm Tim Ferris. Last week I tracked the weather for five days and noticed that it rained on the four days when I didn't carry an umbrella. But on the day when I did bring an umbrella, it stayed dry out. So obviously, carrying an umbrella prevents rain.
Now, some scientists may scoff and say that this flies in the face of known science and conventional wisdom, or that at least they'd need more data in order to be convinced. But I have no problem writing a whole book insisting to readers, through a stream-of-consciousness narrative told in OCD-level detail, that my umbrella-carrying behavior is what controls my weather.
Of course, if you want to really track the weather around you, you'll have to be willing to pay hundreds of dollars a week on expensive and time-consuming diagnostic tests to keep tracking your weather in minute detail, so that you can adjust your umbrella-carrying behavior in case the weather starts getting out of hand.
Also, I, Tim Ferris, am constantly having sex with models and partying with rockstars, as my 8 billion Twitter followers can avow. The book will continually remind you, just so you don't forget this even for a second.
In the introduction I'll tell you to be skeptical, to cover my ass; but I'll fill the rest of the book with overenthusiastic claims and dismissal of skepticism."
He does have a few decent tips, especially in the interviews with professional athletic trainers who actually get many people to do a program over time and see their results. I do admire the focus on doing the minimal workout to get results, rather than overdoing it unnecessarily.
(...although every chapter's advice contradicts itself: Work your muscles to failure every time. No, lift lighter weights for just a few reps, and workout right before eating every meal. No, eat breakfast as soon as you get up, before working out, and make sure it's all protein. No, avoid too much protein and have a glass of grapefruit juice with breakfast. No, avoid all fruits like the plague... I guess that's why the introduction tells you to read one segment at a time, not the whole book from start to finish. Oops.)
And I agree that obsessively-recorded self-experimentation might lead to changed habits that are right *for you*, individually. But the anecdote ("a few times I've had great sex after eating some almonds") does not translate into the general recommendation ("according to my in-depth research, guys should always eat almonds a few hours before sex"). I was not surprised to see a chapter here by Seth Roberts, who specializes in exaggerating the power & generality of claims he makes based on his own self-experimentation. They may be true claims for him, and they may be worth trying by others -- but he claims that if something works on him, that's enough evidence to trumpet it as reliable advice for everyone else, and I have no patience for that.
I'm also not convinced by his tracking of nutrient levels through tests that are both ridiculously expensive and unreliable from reading to reading.
I'm most impressed that Ferriss put two chapters about identifying quack medicine right before the description of his own bullshit "study." Oh, your diet program has a 100% success rate? But the participants were self-selected volunteers from your rabid Twitter followers, not a random sample of the population. And you dropped the people who didn't complete the diet -- you don't know how many tried it and failed without bothering to report their failure on your survey. And the 200 reports were those who "responded to all questions" -- so it sounds like you dropped out the failures who skipped a question or two. And you break it up by subgroups that would be too small to compare even if the study design *were* statistically sound.
The diet may happen to be perfectly good, but the report here simply provides no evidence, whether in favor or against.
Dear Mr Ferriss, you do a far better job with the inspirational writing in the closing thoughts:
"Most of us have resigned ourselves to a partial completeness... The beauty is, almost all of it can be changed... Your body is almost always within your control... take an inventory of all the things in the physical realm that you've resigned yourself to being poor at. Now ask: if I couldn't fail, what would I want to be exceptional at?"
Lovely. Stick to that, please.
PS -- the author's bio says he is "a tango world record holder." I'm not sure what about tango you can measure and hold records in... but if that's your approach to a dance of emotional connection, then dude, you're doing it wrong.
This is my longest review to date, I have a lot to say about this. Let's begin, shall we?
This book is a little unique. You can think of it as a collection of short essays (my understanding is that the book started life as a collection of blog posts by author Tim Ferris) that attempt to “hack” the human body using little tricks and unexpected methods. Ferris likes to quote the 80/20 principle, and in this book, he's trying to find the least amount of effort, that 20% or less of work, that yields 80% or more of the result. So what we end up with is a loosely organized collection of experiments that Ferris performed on himself. While this is fascinating reading, it's also almost entirely anecdotal.
I feel like there are two ways to evaluate this book. While it gets mega style points (I really enjoyed Ferris' writing style and general conceptual approach), that ultimately won't tell you anything about how useful the book is. So, we can evaluate it by how well researched and tested it is (hint: it isn't), or we can actually try to recreate some of his experiments and see what happens. Which, I did.
To the first point, Ferris only conducted these experiments on himself. He occasionally mentions other test subjects, like his parents, and a few other acquaintances, but we are far from talking about clinical trials here. He leaves out vast amounts of information about his purported “test subjects” so it's impossible to get an idea of what was actually going on. While some of these methods might work really well for some people, there's a huge portion of people for whom they likely would be completely ineffective, but Ferris makes it sound like these methods are universal to the human condition. Just because something worked for him and his mom doesn't mean it will work for me and you. While some of his information is backed up by great interviews with highly trained specialists, you have to keep in mind, they are specialists, and while some of them are incredibly outstanding in their fields, they do have a bias which Ferris doesn't try to balance out. He keeps his sources very limited, the scope of perspective extremely narrow, which, again, might work for him, but not necessarily anyone else.
Some of the methods he prescribes are cutting edge, known to be effective for most people, and backed up by studies (which he may or may not be citing). Some of his methods have been proven to be minimally effective, and are way behind the curve when it comes to current science. This doesn't mean they don't work at all, obviously they kinda worked at one point in the past, and obviously they worked for him, but again, that doesn't mean they work for everyone, or that they are the best practices. And, as any gym rat will tell you, you shouldn't listen to a guy who tells you to do curls in the squat rack. That's just asking for trouble.
Jokes aside, we could end the review there, saying that yes, it's a very entertaining book with some nuggets of wisdom, and some other nuggets of crap, but I have more to say here. Because I actually tried some of this stuff.
I'm always eager to try new weight loss methods, especially ones making the claims he did: that you don't have to count calories, that you can have a cheat day once a week in which you are encouraged to eat literally whatever you want, even to the point of making yourself sick. These sounded great. So I tried it.
His diet plan is basic: eat protein, legumes (black beans, lentils, etc.), and veggies at every meal. This isn't that far off from my normal diet anyway, I just don't have nearly as many legumes normally as he calls for. One of his big rules was: Don't count the calories. In fact, he goes far out of his way to drive the point home that you shouldn't restrict too much. He often talked about not eating enough, warning that we should be sure to eat plenty of these foods. So I did. I followed his PGAA supplementation routine (a mix of a few supplements for fat loss. Nothing weird, things like garlic and green tea extract, etc.). I did the cheat day where I followed his protocols for helping to lessen the damage of a binge day. Then I went a step further. He talks a lot about increasing fat loss through cold exposure. So I tried this. I used ice packs, took two cold showers a day, and even took ice baths, all because Tim Ferris' “science” said I should burn fat much faster through these methods. Ferris also went out of his way to say that exercise is not necessary for losing fat on this protocol, and actually warned against doing too much. So I did some kettlebell swings, and thats it.
The first big result I noticed is that I felt like complete crap, all the time. I was sluggish, tired, irritable, and just felt a general malaise that made me miserable. On top of the the beans made me feel bloated and gaseous all day long. It was pretty awful. I kept thinking that even if this worked, it wouldn't be worth it. I got into health, fitness and weight loss because I wanted to feel better, not like this.
After 5 days of feeling like this, I weighed in. I had gained five pounds. Now, normally, to be fair, you should give a new program about 4 weeks to see if it's really working. But I knew that after 5 days, if I felt this bad, and was gaining literally a pound a day, that something was terribly wrong. So I cut it short. No more ice baths, no more of the bean heavy diet. I'm back to a normal workout schedule and eating normally (for me, which means like mostly protein, lots of veggies, very few carbs or dairy, occasional nuts, fruit, and oatmeal). Within a day I felt much better and started losing weight again.
There was another side effect, though. Telling someone like me to have a cheat day and go hog wild is like telling an alcoholic he can only drink on saturday. It doesn't end well. In an effort to maximize my hedonistic enjoyment of cheat days, I actually fell into horrible patterns. I was overeating to an extreme, falling into a binge eating session that I never used to be guilty of, even when I was at my biggest, most unhealthy stage of my former fat life. The cheat day method prescribed here, while some people can handle it, people like me can't. It can easily change from a nice reprieve from dieting and become psychologically damaging. My relationship with food was twisted into something incredibly unhealthy, and it made me feel horrible, not just physically, but emotionally. I cannot stress enough how much I do not recommend this approach. While allowing some “cheating” and flexibility every once in a while can be great, and should probably happen, it should not be the binge style that Ferris outlines here. Atleast not for people like me.
I will keep using his PGAA supplement routine (partially because they are similar to what I was doing before anyway, and hell, I bought all this stuff) since it will probably need a longer term test to truly judge it. I'll also say this: I think that diet (sans the cheat binge) would have worked really well for me when I was first starting out in my weight loss. It's an easy way to stay full while cutting calories down to a manageable level, cutting junk food and most bad carb sources, and staying satiated. It's also easy to follow even when eating out, which is not normally the case for my chosen diet. The problem for me is it actually caused an increase in normal caloric consumption, combined with the lack of exercise, which led to fast gains. So, if you're bigger, and looking to start cutting, this wouldn't be a bad place to start, although I wouldn't recommend it for the long term.
As for the cold exposure, the science behind it makes a lot of sense, and maybe it would have worked if my diet and exercise had been different. But man was it miserable. Ferris talks about how cold showers are supposed to be uplifting, calling them a treatment for depression. As someone who was once clinically diagnosed with depression, I can tell you thats probably not the case. That never came up with any of the doctors I talked to about depression treatments. I found them to be the opposite. Cold showers in the morning, and the ice baths at night just pissed me off and made me irritable and lethargic.
Thats all I tried from the book. At some point I want to experiment with polyphasic sleep (but I've been wanting to do that long before I read this book) and I'm trying to use some of the total immersion swimming techniques he espouses (mostly because others in the triathlon community swear by it) but thats it as far as experiments for me. I was interested in his endurance hacks. He spends a lot of time detailing a very odd training program for endurance (read: marathon) running that has surprisingly little running in it. But when it comes time to share the results, Ferris says that the book had to go to print, that we should check his blog for the update on whether the marathon experiment worked or not. As of this writing, he has not yet updated this section of his blog.
So there you have it. The four hour body has a few nuggets of wisdom in there, and a lot of junky crap as well. Sift through it if you wish, as it is a very entertaining read, but ultimately, it's just a big pile of personal anecdotal evidence that worked well for one dude, and it's results for anyone else are dubious at best.
II'd never read a health book which starts out by describing being backstage at a NIN concert.
I knew I was in for a wild ride.
In the 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferriss chronicles his eclectic experiences at hacking his body: weight loss & muscle gain, perfect abs and perfect baseball swing, tripling his testosterone, holding his breath for three minutes, & more.
As a family physician, I can tell you that most of his material is not that revolutionary: his diet is just a simple variant of a low glycemic load diet, and many trainers will tell you that kettle bells rock as an exercise. But Tim is a showman at heart, as well as probably being just a little bit crazy, and this book reflects his devil-may-care take-life-by-the-throat until it screams for mercy approach to living. The book is intentionally designed to give you a potpouri of ideas and projects to pick from, and he encourages you to find something that you want to change about your body and go for it.
Even if you don't implement a single thing in this book, you'll have a barrel of fun reading it. And most everyone will find at least one chapter that they will find intruiging enough to implement his concepts to try on their own. He's motivated me to get back to my ideal weight, and I'm already half way there by implementing some of his regimen. Trippiest health book of the year.