The Good & the Bad of the 4 Hour Body

A while back I told you some of the books I was reading. And I asked for your favourite reads as well.

A few of you recommended the 4 Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss.

And so I picked up a copy. Actually my wife got me a copy for Valentine’s Day. If I weren’t in this profession I might be skeptical as to her motives by getting me this book. But since she knew I had already been checking it out it was a safe bet.

Anyways back to the book.

Are you familiar with the author Tim Ferriss? He wrote the NY Times Best Seller The 4 Hour Work Week. In it he provides some very interesting strategies to become more efficient in your career and thus have more time for whatever it is you enjoy doing.

And with his latest work he shows you how he changed his body, for the better, with only 4 hours of training time. Per month.

Big deal you might be thinking. ‘I know lots of people who spend 0 hours per month training’.

The difference is the results he achieves in this minimal investment in time.

What kind of results?

He adds 34 pounds of muscle to his body in one month. He goes from running 5 k to 50 k in twelve weeks. He increases his lifts 150 lbs.

And he does this all while decreasing his bodyfat, improving his lipid profile, eating bear claws and croissants and drinking red wine.

Ok now we’re talking! Incredible gains. Minimal time investment. And you get to eat your favourite cheat foods!

How does he do it?

Well you’ll have to read the book to find out.

But what I do want to tell you about The 4 Hour Body are some of the good and bad things he covers. And by bad I simply mean I wouldn’t recommend you follow his advice.

Since everyone, including Tim I’m sure, enjoys getting the good news first let’s start with the parts of The 4 Hour Body I thought were good.

Good Point #1 – Distinguish between exercise and recreation

Ferriss does a great job early on to make sure we understand there is a difference between exercising and doing something for recreation. When we lays out the training plan this is intended to be exercise. It should be intense, planned, recorded, purposeful and short in duration.

Recreation on the other hand is everything else. This may include going for a walk or a bike ride, playing a round of golf or doing yoga or Pilates. He isn’t saying there aren’t health benefits to these activities but that you can’t expect the results he describes if all you are doing is recreational activities.

Good Point #2 – Use of Metrics

Ferriss mentions how he has recorded every workout he has done for the past 10 years or more. He uses glucose monitors to check his blood sugar. He owns or has tried every form of body fat testing. He carries around his own food scale.

To say the guy has some raw data would be an understatement. The more familiar you are with your numbers the better results you will get.

Good Point #3 – Emphasis on Rest & Recovery

Not only does he suggest you train only 4 hours per month he advocates long rest breaks between sets. We might think that if we’re only training 4 hours in a month than the training time must be non-stop with no chance to catch your breath. Instead he insists you rest between sets. As well as you get further into the program he recommends increasing the number of days between workouts.

Good Point #4 – Use of Spices & Flavourings

What is a common complaint of those who start a nutritional plan without all the refined sugar and processed foods they were familiar with? The say there is no flavours.

Ferriss does a great job of showing ways to make food more flavourful and interesting by incorporating a few key spices and ingredients into the mix. But this guy is all about results so you know he is suggesting ways to increasing your insulin sensitivity by adding a particular spice to your morning coffee.

Good Point #5 – MED

This stands for minimum essential dose and is probably the greatest strength of the book. Ferris uses a great analogy where he states that it takes 100 degrees Fahrenheit to boil water. Anything above 101 is wasted energy that could have been used for other purposes.

He uses the same thought process with his training. He seeks out to find the minimal investment to yield the maximum result.

If you remember reading the interview I did with Dan John a while back he spoke of seeking out the minimum as well. It looks like there maybe something to this.

If we are truly seeking results than does going longer yield a better result? What about more frequent? If not then why are we doing longer, more frequent workouts?

Stay tuned for Part II where it get into the parts of the 4 Hour Body that weren’t as good.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                             ‘always moving forward’

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6 Responses to The Good & the Bad of the 4 Hour Body

  1. Anny says:

    Hi Chris,

    Sounds like an interesting read! Thought provoking at the very least. Can’t wait to hear the rest.

    • Chris says:

      Anny: It does challenge conventional wisdom when it comes to health, fitness and nutrition.

      More on the way.

      Chris ‘always moving forward’

  2. Alexandra says:

    You had me at “eat your favorite cheat foods.” Can’t wait to read the book after you!

    • Chris says:

      Alexandra: You’ll like it. It’s a fun read.

      Chris ‘always moving forward’

  3. Thanks for the tips Chris. It never ceases to amaze me what comes out of tims mouth. I am surprised he did tell you to out source your excersise to India.

    If there were 5 chapters that were must read what would they be?

    Take care

    • Chris says:

      Dustin: He probably tried to outsource the exercise but didn’t get quite the same results. I’m about half way through the book. Once I’m done I’ll let you know the 5 best chapters.

      Chris ‘always moving forward’

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