Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Book Summary - The 4-Hour Body

I simply can't put Tim Ferriss' latest book - The 4-Hour Body - down.

In three days I've already read and re-read(!) most of his 500+ pages on becoming *superhuman* in no time flat.

It's kept me up all night and woke me up early in the morning. I got yelled at by my first wife for reading at the dinner table (I didn't care and didn't put it away!). Mrs. C-Nut has actually banned me from talking about it to her! And I've touted the book to every stranger I've come into contact with these past few days. It's that good.

It covers:
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Rapid muscle gain
  • Diet
  • Sleep
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Hitting a hardball
  • Fixing *permanent* injuries (very relevant for me!)
  • And doing the nasty to perfection(!)

First off, the guy is a lunatic. He's spent his entire life tinkering with weird diets, drugs supplements, exercises, and a host of other practices (like frequent ice baths!) all in furtherance of sculpting the perfect body with the least amount of effort. So in that vein it truly is a follow-up to The 4-Hour Workweek.  All short guys lift weights, right?

I'm just going to offer a few details from the book that I found insightful.

As for dieting....he's a big believer that calories don't matter, that all white-flour products have to go (pizza, pasta, and tortillas!), and even that fruit is a hindrance to optimal body sculpting. Now that's pretty much all I eat. WTBleep!

He also believes that breakfast (sometimes a big one) must be consumed within 30 minutes of waking. Heck, most days I don't get a chance to eat ANYTHING until noon - 6.5 hours after I get up.

Ferriss actually takes three *ice baths* a week. He runs cold water and dumps 2 store-bought bags of ice into the tub....and soaks for 20 teeth-chattering minutes.

Why? Because there's some serious caloric burn or whatever (heat transfer?) from the temperature differential. I don't know. But his research has not only demonstrated that these ice baths burn fat, but they also somehow induce muscle growth. Even Ferriss who injects all sorts of junk into body, force-feeds himself eggs by the dozen, measures his stool, and kills himself with all sorts of brutal exercises....Ferriss describes the baths as *not fun at all*.

Guess what, wimps....I'm totally going to do it!

I'm also going to try his crazy diet. Yeah, I will trade New York(!) pizza, bagels, pasta bolognese, and all bread for black beans, sauerkraut, and spinach. Well, I'll try to try it anyway. The way he and others argue, one is crazy not to give it a go in the face of all the anecdotes out there saying that such a radical change (removing gluten) in diet not only changed their fat/muscle content, but also *cured* various ailments. Read one of his blog posts - How To Keep Feces Out Of Your Bloodstream - for more info. Yeah, it's going to be tough. Recall last year I tried to give up pizza for a month but lasted only a couple of days.  And New York pizza tastes a whole lot better...

One thing worth mentioning - Ferriss has a sacrilegious wrinkle in his diet. He allows one cheat day - Saturday - where you can eat whatever and as much as you want. And this ain't just marketing. He asserts that the cheat day is actually healthy and benefits the overall diet. Something like *everyone will cheat....so lets make the cheating predictable for the body* kind of reasoning....I don't know. Of course he offers test cases of people on his diet oinking on Saturday but yet all of them lose the additional weight by Monday.

As for his strength and muscle building...

Ferriss insists quantity (volume) is no match for quality (method) - the recurring theme in both of his books.

He would have weaklings lifting only three days a week, at a high intensity, for short bursts.

His exercises are mostly basic: universal and/or free weights. But he gushes over the kettlebell swing and two particular ab exercises: the cat vomit (an intense yoga cat-cow) and something called the myotatic crunch. Essentially the guy tried everything, for years upon years, before allegedly getting his abs ripped on those two exercises (done in moderation to boot!).

Don't get me wrong - this book is not at all exclusively about the exercise habits and theories of one man. The 4-Hour Body is a font of wisdom from expert Olympian-trainer types. It's more accurately a compendium of unconventional yet highly successful professional training. I mean one of his running gurus has his clients ONLY run 40 yard sprints in preparation for marathons. One of the back specialists he touts ONLY has his patients do a supine groin progressive tower. And his swimming guy relies only on a few technical keys. Heck, Ferriss went from a 2-lap swimmer to a miler from ONLY watching the Total Immersion DVD (and reading the book). I just reserved them both at my over-funded library network. While I can swim more than *2 laps* my form leaves much to be desired. In fact just last year I started making a concerted effort to fix it. Swimming is too great of a no-impact aerobic exercise to not take advantage of, right?

Have to wrap this one up here. Trust me, there's a ton of insightful and practical information in this book.

Oh yeah, I bought a 45 lb kettlebell today ($90) and am trying to figure out the proper technique for swinging it (via YouTube, etc.) without popping out my precarious knees or wrenching my tender back.

(The chapter on *lovemaking* wasn't applicable to me as I've had HBO for 15 years; it was written on a level say....more appropriate for West Coast Tom.)

See also - A New Workout Strategy?


kevin said...

Hello I bought the book last weekend w/ the intention of reading it Christmas & New years weekends. Where in the book does he discuss ice baths?

If you get serious about swimming check out http://www.usms.org/

CaptiousNut said...

Goto page 122.

Yeah, I see that the topic is not properly indexed in the back.

Anonymous said...

Great article man.

Yanjaa! said...

How has the exercises and the diet been working out for you?

(I Like check-ups after months have gone by).

Love, Yanjaa.

CaptiousNut said...

Hi Yanjaa,

The slow carb diet did nothing for me besides made me feel terribly hungry!

The early morning protein (3 eggs plus beans or protein shake) has worked. I lost 5 full pounds at one point.

The kettlebells are awesome - when they aren't tearing up my hands. And I do the *cat vomit* exercise often and with discernible results.

I'm still working on my swim stroke - in fact I am picking up the Total Immersion DVD again today.

I've been blogging a bit more on Ferriss - click here - to see my other posts (scroll down).

Bryan said...

Great post. The book is good and it was the book that motivated me to lose weight.

mj said...

thanks for this, it’s exactly what i was looking for