By now, you’ve probably heard about The Four Hour Body. It’s been out into publication long enough to where folks are writing their reviews. Although this won’t be my “official” review (I may not even end up writing one), I do want to share just a few short fun things about this book and my experience thus far.
I was such a happy camper when I picked up this book from the post office (notice the pasty white complexion of my skin in this pic? This was in the heart of sick-season…yuck)!
As Tim Ferriss recommends, I did not read this book from cover to cover. As a naturally skinny boy, I had one singular goal in mind at the onset of cracking the cover – Gain. Muscle. Mass.
Those that follow my Twitter feed know that during the month of November 2010, I followed (almost to the letter) the prescribed workout for Tim’s post “From Geek to Freak: How I gained 34 lbs of Muscle in 4 Weeks“. This original post, written in 2007 (and judging by the photos used from the post which also made it into a chapter in the book of the same title), has since been updated in the book, with just a few minor changes. I believe Tim wrote this post shortly after the research for The Four Hour Body began.
There was just one problem between what I did in November 2010, and what I’m doing now: measurement.
“What gets measured gets managed” – Peter Drucker
Students of the Four Hour Workweek know the above quote like the back of their hand. As I’m a self-proclaimed Tim Ferriss “fanboy”, I realize that he takes a methodical, scientific and analytical approach to almost everything he does. If you’ve read up on how he measured his fat loss in the new book, you’ll see some borderline OCD behavior (it’s a pretty funny portion of the book also). If I was going to glean as much from his new book as I did from his first one, I would need to become a measurement freak.
Thankfully, there are some tools to help with that, which I’ll get to in a minute. First let’s talk why “Geek to Freak” round 1 really didn’t work for me:
- Not enough caloric and protein intake (I had not measured any of this, and really only ate past the point of feeling “full” at regularly scheduled meals – FAIL)
- Incorrect measurement and execution of the exercises (The proper way to do both the Geek to Freak, and the Occam’s Protocol [the plan I'm on now] workouts is ONE set to failure. My first round of G2F, I had multiple sets, sometimes out of order, and of differing weights and times. If it’s supposed to be an experiment with controlled variables, I failed miserably – FAIL)
- No measurement whatsoever of bodyfat % (The scale was my only litmus test as to whether I was “gaining” or “losing”. Gaining or losing what? Fat? Muscle? – FAIL)
Not this time baby!
This time, I’ve got a plan, Stan!
Following the Occam’s Protocol I and II portions of the book (with a little mixture of some other chapters, as that’s what Occam’s calls for), I’ve got a system worked out. I made sure to write it all down before I began so I’d have a pretty good idea of what my plan was. And, like Tim talks about in the book, I have a copy of my workout, rest, and eating plan printed and tucked inside my lifting notebook that I’ve used for the past year. Here’s some suggestions from what I’ve done so far:
- Set a solid game plan for what exercises I would be doing, and what days I’d be doing them on. Judging by how many reps to failure it would require in each exercise (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about by now, you seriously need to stop and buy the book. Trust me, it’s worth it!) would determine how many rest days would take place between workouts, so I only planned the first 2 weeks worth of training days.
- In that same “game plan” sheet of paper (the one tucked in my workout notebook), I had a rough plan for eating, and what days I would measure my weight and bodyfat % – I picked up a set of Slimguide Skinfold Calipers to measure this, and will be using this method for the first round of testing (2 months). Because I know not only my weight, but also my bodyfat %, I can determine how much fat I lose, muscle mass I gain, and what the minimum amount of calories and grams of protein I should be eating daily to continue to add mass. Cool! Measurement is fun!
- I DID take the “before” pics from 4 angles (front, back, left, right) and then a few flexing in my “selfish” (short) shorts. Sorry lads and lasses, I will NOT be posting these on this site. Become one of my motivators on DailyBurn and MAYBE you can get a sneak peek
- Speaking of DailyBurn, I pre-loaded the most common meals that I would be eating, and also set up all my workouts in there as well. I have an iPod touch with the DailyBurn app, as well as an iGoogle homepage on my browser that has a DB widget on there as well. Tracking what I eat and workouts only takes about 30 seconds per meal, and about 2 minutes per workout day. I STRONGLY suggest this part. It makes all of the difficult math and counting of protein and whatnot so easy.
- I also joined a VERY helpful Facebook 4HB group. There’s a good amount of interaction, a few “bike shed” discussions (but they’re dying down), and a TON of helpful information. Not to mention the Bonus Chapter info that Tim just put out on his site, and the coming forums which will help as well. The advantage to all of this is seeing that I’m not just doing it alone. Just do a simple Twitter search for the hashtag #4HB and you’re bound to come across a wealth of information and support.
And them’s be my secrets.
Progress thus far
So far, it’s been almost 3 weeks on Occam’s protocol. My personal stats are this:
- I currently consume on average around 3800 calories, with usually 16-18% of that being made of protein.
- My bodyfat % has dropped from 14.3% to 13.4%, and total body weight has gone up 5 lbs. Not too shabby if you ask me!
- I’m almost to the point where I need to start adding another day in between workouts, as the last rep to failure is decreasing as weight goes up (especially on the leg press, where it’s kind of comical to “finish” the workout with my knees almost in my chest. If you’re self conscious about looking a little goofy at the gym, get a spotter to help you with this exercise).
So that’s my 2-week 4HB progress report. I’ll be cranking away on this for a while, with some other fun fitness goals to attain once I reach my mass/bodyweight goal (still have a few more lbs to go!).
With that said, I want to highlight a freakin’ amazing site that I’ve really enjoyed over the past 2 months: Nerd Fitness
Steve Kamb, the creator of Nerd Fitness, is a man on a mission. Created with the idea of helping nerds (like me) “level up” their lives, specifically through fitness, he’s done what looks to be a pretty amazing job! As I type this, I’m awaiting the arrival of my NF t-shirt (a birthday present from my wifey), which you’d better believe will be making some appearances on this site in the very near future.
The NF Forums are a great place to get that supportive community that was discussed earlier talking about the 4HB. Way to go Steve!
And as I get ready to send y’all off, here’s one of my favorite NF posts for you to click on over to. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see this as one of my fitness goals here in the coming months, especially as the snow starts to melt here in NY.
Odds and ends: Sorry for the radio silence there, friends!
The past 2 months have been wildly insane here at TFS Headquarters. Due to a flu shot gone wild, I was sick for the entire month of December. The past few weeks have been spent at the hospital with my family, hanging out with my dad who took a pretty nice fall and is recovering slowly (but surely!). I appreciate the support and prayers on my family’s behalf that I’ve received from many of you. You guys are amazing, and it just goes to show how great it can be to surround yourself with great people!