Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The 4-Hour Body: (Quickly) Hacking The Human Body (mixergy.com)
92 points by swombat on Dec 14, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 101 comments

Andrew, I think mixergy is one of the coolest things on the web. You've done great work bringing so much content to inspire us. So I'm surprised and a little disappointed to see you interview the likes of Tim Ferriss.

Don't get me wrong; I understand that you're a journalist and want to keep an open mind. No question about the popularity of this person and his subject.

I just don't think that he or his message are very inspiring. While most of us here work hard building stuff for the benefit of others, this guy just hacks the system for personal benefit. Whether it's gaming the rules to win a martial arts contest, front loading phony book reviews, or making outrageous claims that spawn counterproductive behavior, I really don't want to know about it; I've read enough.

The world already has enough hustlers, charletons, and posers. I'd rather see you spend your time continuing to bring us the real inspiration the has given mixergy such a great track record.

Just my .02.

[EDIT: Just a quick follow-up to those who have disagreed. I don't hate Tim Ferriss. I don't accuse him of lying or deceiving. And I don't question whether or not his methods are effective. (Spam is effective, something else I would never do.)

When I read his last book, I was totally turned off when he claimed winning a martial arts contest by finding a loophole in the rules and shoving his opponent out of bounds. I have never done anything like that and have no intention of learning anything similar.

There's so much inspiring stuff to read here and in books that I see no need to follow up on something I've already ruled out. I was just a little surprised to see Tim Ferriss and mixergy in the same post. That's all.]

You're the reason I'm on HN, so your feedback is always more than "just another comment" to me.


1) Eric Ries once told me how a tiny change to a marketing page is worth hours of recoding. I believe there are little changes that have big significance and Tim is good at identifying and explaining them.

2) There are loads of books about health, but his is going to be a top seller. I'm curious about what it is about the way he presents & markets ideas that help him stand out.

3) Tim Ferriss gets a lot of attention. This response would be incomplete if I didn't admit that Tim's name got my other work a lot of hits, and it will continue to. He has fans that still tweet about an interview that I did with him over a year ago.


1) I should have addressed some of his health claims. It's outside the scope of my work to talk about health, but if we brought it up, I needed to talk about opposing research.

2) I might have been too fawning at the end. I always love my guests, but at the end of an interview, when someone sits for 1 hour and answers questions, I'm prone to gushing out of gratitude.

Andrew, everything you said makes perfect sense, but when I read, "Tim's name got my other work a lot of hits," I just said "duh". Sometimes a long day in the trees makes me lose sight of the forest. Congratulations and keep up the great work.

I appreciate my life choices for not having such a fellow on my radar (spelling is Ferriss - I discover by searching on Amz).

Yet I wonder how I could have become so cynical as to doubt the "socially redeeming value" of an ~author~ who gets a book published by including claims such as:

> 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

Ok, I though you were satirizing his content. I just want to confirm to other readers that the list of points you mentioned are verbatim from his web site.

I'm apprehensive about Tim Ferriss. I've read 4HWW, and found it to have some good advice, as well a a significant amount of fluff. The announcement of "The 4-Hour Body", with lists like this on the book, have only increased my skepticism and apprehension.

I enjoy fitness. I've worked out four to five days a week for the past seven years, first at a climbing gym, and then with Crossfit. I've competed in fitness competitions. I've know a number of well-respected high-level Crossfitters. I would call myself, at the very least, a fitness enthusiast.

I think some of these claims are at best, laughable, and, at worst, will give false hope to people who might truly be interested in fitness. Fitness is hard work!

> * How Tim gained 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days, without steroids, and in four hours of total gym time

Muscle memory will allow people to gain significant amounts of muscle in short periods of time, if that muscle has been trained before.

It's why athletes who take rest periods or have injuries are able to come back just as strong in only a few weeks.

It's the source of many of the before/after pictures for "health foods" and supplements.

If you're actually interested in gaining muscle and weight, the easiest way is to eat tons of food and do heavy, compound exercises three to four times a week.

> * How to sleep 2 hours per day and feel fully rested


Anecdotally, a friend of mine ended up in the emergency room for severe dehydration after trying the Uberman's Sleep Cycle for three weeks.

> * How to triple testosterone and double sperm count

I imagine he's be talking about various supplements here. Supplement science is sketchy, and should always be taken with a grain of salt.

The best way to take supplements is to not take them, but rather, eat more fruits and vegetables.

> * How to go from running 5 kilometers to 50 kilometers in 12 weeks

Pretty simple, actually. There are progressive running plans in almost any running book.

Also, the difference between five and 50 km, at least to your muscles, is much less than the difference between 400M and 5K. It's just training your aerobic system and converting more of your muscle tissue to slow-twitch muscle fibers.

> * How to reverse “permanent” injuries

Eat right and exercise correctly.

If you read the forums for crossfit, or stronglifts, or a number of other fitness websites, or diet websites, you'll see people who miraculously cure their bad back, bad knees or diabetes, just by eating right and exercising correctly.

> * How to add 150+ pounds to your lifts in 6 months

This is almost guaranteed to happen when someone goes from an untrained state to the beginning of a trained state. It has to do with muscles learning to be used, rather than significant strength gains.

When I started Crossfit three years ago, I could barely deadlift 135#. Three years later, my last 1RM deadlift was 455#. Going from 135# to 300# was _so_ much easier and faster than going from 300# to 455#, because my body had always been able to do it, it just didn't know it.

You've clearly never ran 50 km in one go.

You're talking 5 intense months to safely train minimum, for a person who can run 5 km.

Training for a 50 km isn't "just aerobics", it's also about strengthening your bones and ligaments and developing the mental tools you'll need to finish. It's about learning what your body needs to stay hydrated. Learning how to minimize calorie use. Learn how to run through the walls (yes, plural, there's normally two of them on a 50 km run). How to eat on the run without throwing it all up or squirting it out from your shorts. Aerobics is the least of it, IMHO.

12 weeks is a laughable claim.

And yes, I've run 50km (and far beyond) in one go.

A marathon is 42K and people run those all the time with minimal training. Puff Daddy only trained for 8 weeks. Every yuppie in NYC has met at least a half dozen out of shape office workers who have a mid life crisis and decide to run a marathon in 12 weeks.

8 weeks according to him. Try it and get back to me.

You aren't going to go from a 5k to a 50k in 12 weeks and remain injury-free, sorry.


5 weeks training, 43 marathons in 50 days.

5:48 marathon was his fastest time, according to that article. That's A LOT of walking. And that was his best time.

This is more akin to hiking a flat version of the Appalachian Trail than running 50 km straight.

"It's why athletes who take rest periods or have injuries are able to come back just as strong in only a few weeks."

It's more complicated than that. Actual muscle mass has less to do with being strong than leverage and nervous system development.

Leverage is genetic and there's not much you can do about having long arms.

What you call "muscle memory" is the strength and frequency of nervous system signaling - most strength gains come from changes in the nervous system.

That's why there's tons of drug-free power and weightlifters who don't have a ton of muscles but are extremely strong. Conversely, there's tons of bodybuilders using steroids who can't actually lift all that much. This is because muscle mass is mostly dependent on hormones.

You don't gain muscle by lifting weights so much as you raise your testosterone level by lifting weights, which promotes muscle growth.

So athletes can come back quickly in terms of strength, but not so much size.

From what I read about Tim's "muscle gain" advice (he posted the story on his blog) it was mostly just water and fat. I bet he started out by dehydrating before the experiment, too. Assuming you start out slim it's very easy to gain 34 pounds in a month by drinking water, eating a ton of high-carb foods and taking creatine (I've done ~20 pounds in two weeks this way to go up a weight class). The only way you're going to gain any muscle that way is with weightlifting (a lot more than 4 hours) or steroids, and preferably both.

"Muscle memory will allow people to gain significant amounts of muscle in short periods of time, if that muscle has been trained before."

Then the book isn't telling how to "gain 35 pounds of muscle". It's telling how to restore 35 pounds of muscle you recently had.

Which is significantly different from "add 35 new pounds of muscle".

I realize that there is a lot of hate directed towards Tim Ferriss and his tactics, but you can learn a ton from him. Even if you ignore everything that he says and writes, just watching him in action will make you a better entrepreneur. I haven't watched/listened to the interview yet, but it seems like Tim is a great fit for Mixergy.

I have up-voted both you and the parent, because while you both have opposite points of view (more or less), I fall somewhere in the middle.

My favorite thing about Tim Ferriss are the video podcasts that he does with Kevin Rose. They're posted on his blog ("Random episode X"), and they're usually pretty interesting (the one they did when traveling around China comes to mind), though not mind blowing.

As for the rest, I try to be inspired by his energy at trying new things and being methodical about learning, but I don't really follow him on most of the specifics of what he does.

I realize that there is a lot of hate directed towards Tim Ferriss and his tactics, but you can learn a ton from him. Even if you ignore everything that he says and writes, just watching him in action will make you a better entrepreneur.

I find that the best way to deal with self-promoting people is to ignore them. I have a limited amount of attention and brain space, and I really don't have time for Tim Ferriss trying to cram himself into every nook and cranny of it.

Besides, Tim Ferriss is a cunt. If you try to learn from his example you'll become a cunt too.

(Interesting: my spellcheck flags "cunt" as misspelled. How else would you spell it?)

Ed, I respectfully disagree. Tim Ferriss is a hacker. All of those things are _exactly_ the kind of "creative playfulness" that embodies the hacker spirit.

I find Tim way more inspiring than "yet another discussion on how $TECHNOLOGY_X is {dead,the hottest thing since sliced bread}."


"Tim Ferriss is a hacker."

So are the Chinese dudes who put melamine in the milk and formula they sold, poisoning untold numbers of children while increasing their profits by selling watered-down milk. (The melamine tested as protein, covering up the dilution.)

That was a hack. Same with 'hackers' who use shoddy building materials resulting in buildings that collapse.

Hackers like that are a dime a dozen. It's not anything I'd want to emulate. And I certainly wouldn't want to hire someone who thought along such lines.

I think that comparing "I _actually_ read the rules to this boxing context" to "poisoning untold numbers of children" is just slightly hyperbolic, don't you?

I've got a real love/hate thing going on with Ferris. He seems like he's got a lot of confidence and has done a lot of neat stuff. But at the same time, I can't help but feel that he uses his life experiences as ammo wrapped in exaggeration to fire at us plebs so we'll buy his books. The 4HWW had some useful bits of knowledge in it, but there was much fluff that came in the form of Tim pimping his lifestyle.

One of the things I appreciate about HN is that when people shoot something down, they provide an intelligent and well-researched rationale to support their arguments. With that in mind:

* Have you read the book?

* Do you have thoughts of your own about why Tim Ferris's methods cannot be applied to exercise?

If so, I would be genuinely delighted to read them.

> I was totally turned off when he claimed winning a martial arts contest by finding a loophole in the rules

That's not really my style either but it is a bit amusing that he did it.

I guess I just have a filter for those things. I'm mostly inspired by his unconventional thinking and the idea of non-conformity. Even if I don't agree with everything he says, I love that he's always looking for different and better (at least to him) ways of doing things.

Some people twitted me this book a few months ago, and I did not pay attention. After this post, I looked the author over. Not only did he funded a company, but he angel invested in quite a few startups, including twitter and a YC company like Posterous. Which is far more interesting than the interview itself.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Ferriss

Though I don't agree with everything Tim advocates in his first book and feel, like yourself, that some of it is disingenuous, I do find a lot of value in it for the same reason I value any book: it got me to question the way I think.

One line from the 4HWW "Ask for forgiveness, not permission," can change the way you address challenges for the rest of your life. I'm really looking forward to seeing what insights he's put into the new book.

""Ask for forgiveness, not permission," can change the way you address challenges for the rest of your life."

But overdo it and people will think you're an asshole.

Sure, depending on the context.

Ive seen a few "Marketers" and such on Mixergy that I don't exactly trust their methods, but it does fit with the goal and purpose of the show.

Spam is effective, something else I would never do.

Agree! Note this from the bottom of the page:

cloudsponge – Your users have friends. cloudsponge gives you their address books. (Now get 3 free months by using this discount code: MIXERGY)

What I tried to capture in this interview is Tim's belief that you can get 80% results with 5% effort. And that the other 95% effort (or whatever the %) is either the facetime that we feel we must put in to feel we earned our result, or an attempt at perfection.

I'm not sure I agree with him completely, but my goal in the interviews is to learn, not to argue for "my side."

My other goal here was to find out how he identifies that 5% that gets outsized results. The salient part of his answer was that he find people who achieve freakish results, then he mimics their approach.

(If you read those last 2 sentences, you may not have to listen to my hour-long interview, which strengthen's Tim's 80%/5% message.)

I found that to be true with school. 5% effort usually gets you a B, while the closer you wanted to get to "perfection" (100%/A+), exponentially more effort is required.

And most people would be quite happy with a "B" body. The most important thing for me, as someone that tends to come up with the "perfect plan" before starting, is that doing a little will get you on the path to improving yourself. But then when I do a little, I realize it's often enough to get me where I wanted.

With the right diet and just one hour of exercise per week you can get you an A++ body.

Diet: Not too many calories, many vegetables, enough protein. Cook your own meals. Fat is ok, as long as you don't get too many calories.

Exercise: Mostly running, and a little bit of strength training. The key is to do what you do to the max. Run 10 minutes but make sure run as fast as possible. Do this two times a week, this will take 40 minutes a week (20 minutes running, 20 minutes preparing & showering). Do 5 minutes of exercise when you get up/go to sleep 4 times a week.

If we assume 16 hour days then this will take 1/(7*16) = 0.9% of your time. Just to emphasize, that's less than one hundredth of your awake time.

This is what I do and it works very well, it is the best investment of my time I ever make. YMMV

Any tips on how to get a better handle on 'many, enough, and too many' relatively easily? I'd like to do something like this, but it's the paradox of choice with me and health: I know next to nothing, so I just feel confused by everything...

Listen to your body. When you're full, stop eating. This feeling lags a bit behind what you eat, so don't eat too quickly. Don't eat things like sweets, chocolate and potato chips when you're hungry, when hungry only eat healthy things. Don't drink too much calorie dense drinks like fruit juice. These drinks won't give you a full feeling even though you've consumed a lot of calories, better eat fresh fruit.

When I eat with my friends they sometimes say how come you eat so much but are so lean. They've been drinking fruit juice or soft drinks with the meal whereas I drank water, they're eating less but consuming the same amount of calories. Later the night they'll feel hungry and start eating snacks. For example tonight I ate carrots, pasta with pork and cheese with a sauce based on creme fraiche. This contains a lot of fat but that's not so bad because it also makes you full (I ate it 6 hours ago and have no appetite for e.g. sweets whatsoever).

When you're hungry, bake an egg in butter with cheese and eat it with a slice of bread. This will be about 300 calories but you'll be full. Or you can eat one Mars and you'll be hungry again in half an hour (also 300 calories). Or you can drink 3 glasses of coke and be hungry in half an hour. Or you can eat 8 oranges and you won't be hungry (also 300). Or eat 25 big tomatoes. Or 100 grams of bread and you'll be hungry in two hours.

The following numbers may be handy:

    Fat:           9000 kcal/kg  (this holds for body fat as well as fat in foods)
    Alcohol:       7000 kcal/kg
    Carbohydrates: 4000 kcal/kg
    Protein:       4000 kcal/kg
One thing I've found is that the more you eat the more hungry you get. For example on Christmas you usually eat a lot, yet the next morning I'm always very hungry. Do you have this too? Evolutionarily I think your body thinks "hey we got a lot last night, there is a lot of food available now (perhaps they killed a mammoth?), better stock up". This also works the other way around: if you've been eating too much and then go back to normal you'll be hungry, but that probably goes away in a couple of days (unless you're not eating enough).

I think it is futile to try to lose weight or keep weight low trying to be hungry. Your body is much more powerful than your mind and will override your conscious efforts in no time.

This is what works for me. The caveat is that I've never had or tried to lose weight, but I started to eat this way because I think it's healthier. When I did so after a while I discovered I had lost 4 kg (which is a lot for me), and had to consciously eat more to gain some of it back. On the other hand I went on a very active sports / camping vacation with friends and we had to buy food a few days ahead, so we all ate the same kind of things. This was a mix between their and my diets (e.g. no coke/fruit juices just water from the lake). My weight went up slightly because I eat more but they each lost 1-2 kg in two weeks. So I think it works, but if you notice gaining weight when applying this, stop and look for something else.

Awesome, thanks so much for this. I have _really_ bad eating habits, but they've actually gotten better over the last few years. They went from 'abysmal' to 'pretty damn bad,' basically. Three years ago, my girlfriend told me she wasn't really sure how I consumed enough nutrients to live... I was going through roughly two liters of Mountain Dew a day, pizza 5 nights a week... yeah. When you work in a pizza shop...

Yup. When I notice that I won't learn much from a course or the subject doesn't interest me I skip the lectures and the day before the final I go through the book with 100% of my focus on "is the paragraph or formula I'm reading now going to help me pass this course". This allows you to skip tons of stuff and gets you much more bang for the hour. I've noticed that most other students just mindlessly read everything and as a result don't remember or understand the important stuff.

Also, after ~two semesters of college, I realized I typically focused a lot on homework, etc. during the first three weeks of the semester and started to burn out. However, it is the last three weeks of the semester that usually impact your grades the most. I changed my focus to the last three weeks, and got better grades with less effort/burn out/stress.

as someone who took his advice a few years ago about weightlifting, i can tell you firsthand that what he said then was reasonably accurate. my efforts, by generally doing what he suggested, produced generally similar results.

Now what I need to do in my future interviews is get an understanding of the 5% of my guests' work that produces the big payoff.

It can't be the only thing I focus on, or else the interviews won't have depth and integrity.

But if I can pull that out, I can give my listeners a payoff for the hour they invest in my interviews.

You can't get everything, but you can pull out things that you found especially interesting and surprising. The interview is there for anyone who needs an introduction to the subject with everything spelled out, the summary should be for those who are familiar with it.

can you link to the protocol you use, and explain what results you got?

Every Tim Ferris thread I see on HN, has nigh 10 - 20 posts that all essentially say:

"Tim Ferris is a charlatan. He's relies on spin and marketing to sell his products. His methods encourage people to be lazy and not make a genuine effort to reach their goals. His advice is counterproductive."

But while Tim makes every effort to support his claims using facts, anecdotes and citations these sorts of comments are rarely supported by anything other than the commenter's opinion. I'm not saying people shouldn't post Tim-hating comments, to the contrary I'm asking for Tim-haters to form a strong argument against his ideology by citing studies and literature that clearly contradict what he preaches.


And when he's talking about winning the martial arts fights, he goal was to "WIN", not to play the game. And like gursikh says, either put up or shut up. We need concrete examples!

Overall, I think Tim has done a lot for a lot of people with the ideas that he shares in his books.

Exploiting rule loopholes in obscure Chinese kickboxing events doesn't constitute much of a "WIN", especially with his subsequent presentation of himself as a "world champion" and "experienced mixed martial artist".

All up, a call for "concrete examples" is exactly what should be going on. From Tim. Not from the unbeliever. The cliche is "the onus of proof is on the believer". Tim's extraordinary claims about drug-free muscle gain, for example, should have had a third-party drug test involved as well as being put in context with his previous and subsequent physique. His extraordinary claims to be a martial arts champion should come with names, dates and number of competitors in his division. Etc.

You have misunderstood me. It doesn't matter if Tim is wrong, if we don't know what is right. If you substantiate your criticisms by finding counter-evidence or disputing his evidence, you add value to the conversation by pointing people in the right direction.

I don't have to find counter-evidence. I just have to ask HIM to show evidence of his extraordinary claims. Arguably, by pointing out how vague his actual evidence is (and putting it in context, e.g. 'world martial arts champion' == 'successful exploiter of loopholes in an obscure Chinese kickboxing event') I'm sort of doing what you say, but the claim that Ferriss should be taken seriously until comprehensively debunked is rubbish. Who has time to wander around debunking every semi-popular crackpot on the web?

All I know is that when Ferriss's claims intersect stuff that I know about I can tell he's full of it. This doesn't raise my level of faith about anything else.

If he doesn't feel that as a wholly empty accomplishment, he must be a sociopath.

He didn't prove his ability to fight was superior. He didn't prove his mastery of martial arts was superior. He proved his ability to push his opponent over the line.

If there were no line, he'd be crushed.

I'm not say the way he did the martial arts thing is the way to go. Personally, I wouldn't be able to pull it off because I don't think I would be able to face the other players and not feel bad about what I was doing.

But, by his definition, and by those set up by that martial arts sport, he did win, and he got the title/paper to prove it. What can you say, some people like titles/papers more than the actual process :)

Nope, his ability to fight _was_ superior. He used every advantage possible while staying within the rules of the game. That's how competitive games are played.

I have a lot more respect for something like Doug Lenat winning a 1981 Traveller (pencil & paper RPG) Trillion Credit Squadron space navy warfare competition by using an AI program to come up with a strategy that followed the rules but was totally unlike what anyone else was doing: building massive numbers of small, cheap, individually weak, disposable/suicidal ships, rather than designing a smaller traditional fleet of big, expensive, powerful capital ships.


For one thing, the strategy he came up with is not unlike the use of suicide bombers in real life conflicts. I expect something similar will apply when large numbers of small, cheap autonomous drones start being deployed. It has real-world applicability. It was also effective, I believe, in EVE Online. Plus, it was an interesting application of technology. It wasn't just "shoving".

By comparison, Ferris' shoving tactic is virtually useless outside of the context of a ring-based martial art competition. (Maybe if you got in a fight on the edge of a cliff, or on the roof of a building, or next to a pool of sharks...)

Perhaps, but only in a fleeting "I'm the reason they patched that map exploit in 4.01" sort of way." Exploiting a one-time temporary imbalance in a game system doesn't make you a lifelong great player. As an illustration, who's the more respected NBA champion, Kevin Garnett or Kobe Bryant?

"every effort to support his claims using facts, anecdotes and citations"

Has anyone ever bothered to verify those facts and citations? I mean, do his sources actually support his claims?

I ask because it's not unheard of for a mass-market work to include lots of citations allegedly in support of points made in the text, but when tracked down, actually contradict the author's points.

eg: Ann Coulter, http://mediamatters.org/research/200608070002

Most of the time nobody bothers to check. Reviews will mention "19 pages of footnotes" or similar to suggest the author's arguments are well-founded. But sometimes the footnotes are just a smokescreen.

If Ferris cites scientific papers, are they in credible journals? Have they held up? Do his sources actually support the claims? I dunno. I was wondering if anyone had checked.

The reviews on Amazon look really suspicious.


In the past few hours since the book was put on sale, there have been 90+ five star reviews.

Either this is one of the best book every published, of the publisher/author has been organizing or paying for reviews.

Some publishers/authors really organize reviews by sending preview copies of books to reviewers.

I am one of those. I had an advance copy, loved it and posted my review. Feel free to challenge anything in my review: http://amzn.to/hDRfVB

Since you asked:

1) You didn't disclose that you received the book as a gift from the author/publisher and in advance.

2) That you were (I presume) asked to review the book on Amazon by the author/publisher.

3) That you didn't even read the book (only "several chapters") before giving it a 5 star "review".

4) You used a URL shortener on HN.

5) You used a URL shortener to obscure the Amazon affiliate tag in your link.

staunch - valid questions

1) fair point, but devil's advocate says that is to be expected considering I posted it on launch day.

2) yes, I received a friendly reminder email that today was launch day and that tim would appreciate reviews. he did not specify positive in his wording. just that he would like reviews up.

3) The book actually _recommends_ not reading it in its entirety but rather selecting a few relevant sections based on what you want to do. I am not interested in the fat loss sections as I am already at 11.8% body fat, rather I am interested in the muscle building sections. Page 11 talks about 4 different "tracks" you can take with the book: rapid fat-loss, rapid muscle gain, rapid strength gain or rapid sense of total well-being (improving sex, perfecting sleep, etc). I quote from the book:

  Do *not* read this book from start to finish.
4/5) I had already tweeted it earlier so it was easy for me to copy the link. As for affiliate, the HN consensus seems to be that "good faith" links with affiliate codes are okay. a book I would have recommended anyway. If HN really, really hated affiliate links then my Kindle review would not have gotten so many upvotes and 16 people would not have purchased them through me and the disclosed aff link

Here's the link unshortened and without referer code: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2UY4C560D3VID

What did you do to get the advance copy?

I've known Tim for a while now. I have a somewhat known blog and a decent Twitter following. He asked me if I wanted a copy.

Related: I had mentioned Tim and something he had said about metabolism downregulation in my popular "startup diet" post this year: http://paulstamatiou.com/programmers-startup-diet-how-i-lost...

If that's true, then this should be easy to test. Are the kind of reviews this book is getting statistically different to the kinds of reviews other new books get?

That'd be a natural thing for him to outsource.

This is always the case with movies and videogames, so I think the same applies: the people who are interested in the product go to see/watch/read it first. Eventually, "everyone else" gets around to try it out, and the score drops accordingly.

Not sure that's going to happen here. Look at the reviews from the updated version of The 4HWW: http://www.amazon.com/4-Hour-Workweek-Expanded-Updated-Cutti...

The original edition didn't do quite as well, but it still has a huge quantity of great reviews: http://www.amazon.com/4-Hour-Workweek-Escape-Live-Anywhere/p...

It's a bit of a cult. But there are a more reasonable number of 1, 2, 3-star reviews.

In this article,


It claims that your body can only synthesize about 2 pounds of dry muscle mass per month.

34 pounds in 28 days is roughly a pound of muscle per day. I've always found myself wanting more evidence to back that up, or even just seeing more examples of people saying they've done that. The closest I've heard to getting that kind of result are people who add drinking a gallon of milk in addition their regular diet, and even then they gain a fair amount of fat in addition to muscle and it's way less than that number.

Just for clarification from someone who is familiar with GOMAD (Gallon Of Milk A Day):

The purpose of GOMAD is to pair a intense workout program (Three or so lifts per workout, workouts every other day, 3 rounds of 5 reps per lift, adding 5lbs to your max each workout), with more resources than the body can possibly utilize. GOMAD + a normal diet comes out to roughly 4000-5000 calories a day. This is typically enough to allow your body to fully recover from every workout in such a short period.

The system is designed so calories are "left over," which adds fat. Then after you're done with GOMAD, many people typically go on a paleo-style diet and then lose that fat they gained.

Just some info from someone who's done it!

You can synthesize more than 2lbs of muscle per month, if the muscle you're synthesizing has been in a trained state previously.

This is how athletes can return from injury in a few weeks. It's also how most before/after shots for health products and supplements are made.

I've done GOMAD (Gallon of Milk A Day). It's tough to drink that much milk. In the end, I gained ten pounds of muscle over a period of two months.

> You can synthesize more than 2lbs of muscle per month, if the muscle you're synthesizing has been in a trained state previously.

Do you have a link to that by any chance?

It does make sense though. Perhaps that's what happened with him, but without that key bit of info it's fairly misleading.

Start with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_Experiment. Then read http://blog.legendarylife.com/the-colorado-experiment.

Anecdotally, here's one guy's attempt at repeating the Colorado experiment. http://www.placeintheground.com/2008/07/21/testing-out-the-c... http://www.placeintheground.com/2008/09/25/colorado-experime...

Re-reading this makes me think that Tim Ferriss is probably advocating the Colorado Experiment's methods in his book. One of the other comments mentioned five-seconds-up, five-seconds-down.

I see. The experiment seems ill-conceived in the first place, along with the guy's attempt to repeat it.

You can do more than that per month, even if you've never participated in sports in your life - see my comment above: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2008164

The one thing that seems pretty blatantly overlooked in this whole discussion is that genetics have __alot__ to do with body building. I guarantee you that if everyone reading this thread mimicked Tim's 28 day plan exactly, that no where near 100% of us would produce the same results (assuming the plan actually did as he claims).

Some people are just predisposed to bulking up. It's interesting to peruse body-building forums and see tons of people very dedicated to their sport all following the same recommended training regimens yet getting vastly varying results. It's not that the effort isn't there.

I know, I should be providing links to back-up my claim, but I should also be working to meet my company's big milestone due tomorrow. :-)

Their is also a very large difference between those who have had weight training regimen the past (and had some success, no matter how little), and those who are doing their first foray into putting on a large amount of muscle with proper eating and program.


The discussions on Ferris always seem to turn to personal attacks, nor, citations on how Ferris is a "charlatan." Like any other information, I absorb what I feel will be helpful, and ignore the rest.

For the Four Hour Work Week, he gives highly simplistic and to-the-point advice on starting your little business (or as he says, muse). People love fluff it seems and rail against very blatant simplistic advice. His older blogs (from the HN discussion I linked above, which references his blog post) is all about That simplicity.

The most highly ranked comment in this discussion is only in regards to his self-promotion or personal dislike of the man himself. Not conducive to conversation.

I can refute that claim: I went to Marine Corps bootcamp (PI SC), weighing approximately 127 lbs. I left (3 months later) weighing 142lbs - 15 lbs in 3 months. I think if I had gone on double rations I could have gained more.

Refuting what claim?

It's also important to note that there's a difference between dry muscle mass and what you read on your scale after you've taken away body fat (that's presumably "wet muscle" - I don't know the exact word for it). So in your case, you might've gained a bit of fat (let's say 2 lbs for sake of argument), which means you gained 15-2/3 = 4.3 lbs of "wet muscle", which is entirely possible according to this article. You'll definitely gain more weight if you doubled your rations, but I suspect that will shift your muscle-to-fat gains ratio much more towards gaining fat.

I've also made similar gains at one point, going from 140-155 in 3 months. I did this through a diet of ~3600-4500 calories, and I gained a bit of fat too probably from overshooting my caloric intake near the end at 4500. Granted, my diet wasn't perfect, but it was pretty regulated so that's why the original claim's rate of muscle gain draws my attention.

The muscle building seems similar, though even more extreme than HST training: http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/hst_index.html

I switched to HST after a long time of doing typical weight training routines and now do 1-2 sets per body part each time I'm in the gym. It's not nearly as extreme as what he's describing but I've cut my workouts down to 3 40 minute sessions each week and my gains have increased a LOT. Of course when I tell people that they freak out because there's an irrational belief that you have to put in tons of sets to see benefits.

Interesting stuff.

I'm enjoying a two days a week interpretation of Starting Strength. It also focuses on progressive loading and low rep, high weight sets.


Starting Strength is amazing. Paired with GOMAD and it is hands down the most effective strength building program I've ever come across.

Enjoy it!

Just wondering... Does anyone actually want to look like that guy on the HST page? I took one look at that and said "this is not the workout routine for me".

Yeah, that's not something you just accidentally end up looking like. I'm not into being that big at all but there would be fair warning well before hand ;)

And I bet the person pictured was heavily using steroids.

Someone on IronGarm (don't look it up if you're easily offended) put it best: "Tim isn't very strong and is a Jenga of fairly serious injuries that a smarter trainee would avoid."

"Gaining" (actually regaining) large quantities of muscle in a short period of time is an old Iron Game trick (the "Colorado Experiment" with the Nautilus guy and Casey Jones IIRC). You can't gain nearly as much muscle as someone else can regain.

As for the other strategies to 'gain' this much 'muscle' while 'clean', the high points are (a) dehydration, (b) steroids and/or exogenous testosterone and (c) a modicum of fat gain (which on a normal muscular physique won't be that notable and, most importantly, (d) a willingness to claim that you haven't done a/b/c whether it is true or not.

Tim is a master of 'hacking' these kind of demos but it would be more impressive if he tried doing something more sustained where there isn't a short-cut to success. For example, compete in a sport where there is a lot at stake and a high number of well-prepared competitors. Not, for example, by finding a rules loophole in some obscure Chinese kickboxing event and winning it through a combination of extreme weight cutting and pushing other people over (one of his claims to fame as a martial artist).

It should be noted that Ferriss wrote a 2008 article describing how to effectively put on 30 pounds overnight by dehydrating oneself before a weigh-in and then rehydrating before competition begins. [1] The fact that the miracle muscle gains mentioned in Tim's new book are also roughly 30 pounds should not go unmentioned.

[1] fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2008/01/18/how-to-cut-weight/

Tim specifically addresses the 34 lbs of muscle gain in 28 days in the Mixergy interview. It's not the same routine of dehydration/rehydration for competition.

I think I see here 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days. How did you do that?

Timothy: So that was just so people know the circumstances. I was supervised by a Ph.D. at San Jose State University, and we used hydrostatic weighing, which is underwater weighing, for body composition. The way I did it was with two 30-minute workouts per week, which means it was literally four hours for the month. So in this case it is the 4-hour body. And there were a number of protocols that I followed.

The first was the exercise protocol, which was and we’ll talk about this I’m sure more, following the minimum effective dose. So how many seconds of tension with a specific weight or load do I need to trigger muscular growth in certain body parts? And you can figure this out. So I was using a very slow safe protocol to achieve that eliminating momentum to the extent possible, tracked everything like a scientific experiment.

And then the second protocol was the eating protocol. So you have to eat a lot to gain 34 pounds of muscle. I also lost three pounds of fat and lowered my cholesterol from 222 to 147. And that involved eating, but improving insulin sensitivity so that was preferentially put into muscle tissue as opposed to fat tissue. Then also taking supplementation to improve protein synthesis and things like that.

So at the end of the day it was a combination of very small things used together.

I'm sure he has more exhaustive logs that support his claims but the quote above (the same story was in Wired a few weeks back) isn't detailed enough to prove that Tim gained 8.5 pounds of muscle per week.

I was unfamiliar with hydrostatic weighing so I looked it up. Hydrostatic weighing appears to measure water displacement to figure out the body's density and hence fat to muscle composition. The density of muscle is 1.06 g/ml and fat is 0.92 g/ml. [1]

A gain of 30 pounds of water (1.0 g/ml) would show up as roughly equal gains in fat and muscle since water's density is about at the midpoint between fat and muscle. Ferriss's claim is +34 pounds of muscle and -3 pounds of fat.

I'm certain Ferriss gained lots of muscle in his four-week trial. His methodology isn't all that different from Gallon Of Milk A Day (GOMAD) plus the Starting Strength workout plan, both of which I've personally used to some success. That said, the freely available quotes don't give all of the necessary information. If you happen to buy the book, please share with us.


And Pat Robertson can leg press 2000 pounds, as he says while trying to sell you his protein shakes.



anyone want to give the short-short version of this. The transcript was way too long, and was all over the place, and I didn't have the patience for the video.

1. Measure what you eat. 2. Brief, intense, and regular workouts. 3. Repeat every day.

Don't workout every day, only twice a week.

5. It matters what you eat. 6. Stay dedicated to the routines partly through limiting your choices and partly through creating accountability

Tim is our generation's chuck norris. I've seen his Tedtalk - it's like he walks on water. He's a genius at self-promotion, but too much cloud in the sky goals and success, and you start to see the fluff.

I bought Ferriss' book on a whim at an airport. I have no qualms in saying I think it's perhaps the worst waste of $20 in my life. The guy's a charlatan.

Tim Ferriss is correct that it takes 4 hours to get a body like his. However, to be accurate, he should have said 4 hours per DAY.

2 hours weights + 2 hours cardio will get you in shape like him. Not drinking milk and expecting to lose 10 lbs = fail.

the guy is a sales/marketing genius.

A great many people (also known as "hard-gainers") will not gain any muscle whatsoever by exercising every day - let alone exercising for 4 hours every day.

If you're a hard-gainer (I am), you will need to:

* Do the right kinds of exercises (squats, deadlifts, bench press, pullups, inverted rows, etc)

* Rest enough in between sessions (2 days between sessions at least)

* Eat enough, including enough protein from a variety of sources

If you do those things, you will put on muscle no matter what your body type. Exercise 4 hours a day, and you will only put on muscle if you have awesome genetics.

you dont do the same routine every day; you do a 3-day split. I guarantee you if we did a study of 1,000 americans who did 4 hours per day and rotated their weights and cardio vs. Tim's method; 95% would be in much better shape my way. and the 5% who dont cant put on weight.

" 1 point by swombat 3 minutes ago | link | parent

A great many people (also known as "hard-gainers") will not gain any muscle whatsoever by exercising every day - let alone exercising for 4 hours every day.

If you're a hard-gainer (I am), you will need to:

* Do the right kinds of exercises (squats, deadlifts, bench press, pullups, inverted rows, etc)

* Rest enough in between sessions (2 days between sessions at least)

* Eat enough, including enough protein from a variety of sources

"If you do those things, you will put on muscle no matter what your body type. Exercise 4 hours a day, and you will only put on muscle if you have awesome genetics."

exactly; the same kind of "superhuman" genetics tim ferriss (and me) already have. thing is; if we don't do 4 hr/day, we get fat just like most of America!

The point is why bother? You can get exactly the same or better results in terms of fat loss and muscle gain doing 2 or 3 30-40 minute HIT workouts a week. The only way you can do a real 4 hour per day workout is if you're a pro athlete and have the rest of the day off to rest and eat. Cardio and most bodyweight exercises are a waste of time if you're not doing them for sport-specific training but just to shed fat. Take the stairs and cycle or walk to work instead of wasting your time on a treadmill.

Andrew, great interview. I was just wondering if there was a reason you don't ask people to repeat themselves when the video cuts off? It seems to take away a little from the video. (I did notice the sly handling regarding the "blue light" cutoff)

Update: Tim says if you buy 3 copies of his book and email him your receipt, he’ll send you a chapter that his publisher edited out of the book.

This on top of an incredible claim caused my informational immune system to close the tab. If any reasonable person made such a discovery, they would be concerned about skepticism, about looking like a huckster. And about being wrong! They would look for some way to validate their work and would see if they could convince someone credible in the field before they started pitching it to the general public. This guy is going out of his way to look like a charlatan. Conclusion: he's looking for suckers and is weeding out everyone else right up front.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact