5 tips for your first Occam’s Protocol workout

I’m now through my first workout, and moving from 0 to 10mph is much more difficult than going from 10-60mph – I can’t wait for my next workout now that I have some momentum. My first Occam’s Protocol workout actually didn’t happen, to begin with, due to a couple of missed details.

Having researched some gyms, I found one that had a 10 drop-in punchcard, which I think is best to begin with. A membership will make me go too much.

I planned on doing my first workout on my cheat day, in line with Tim’s cheat day he describes in the book, so I was on the treadmill, warming up, and studying my Occam’s Protocol Workout Cheat Sheet (Download it here) and made notes for a couple of minor edits (which are now done).

Moving into the weights area, I realized my mistake- I hadn’t checked the gym facilities before I’d paid, and in front of me was a room, that on close inspection, was missing a lat pulldown machine, a shoulder press machine. Not the end of the world, I thought, I’ll do the free weights option. To my surprise, there was no barbell, and no plate weights.

So I was left with a choice. I wrestled with approximating the workout using dumbbells, which is what I would have previously done. But I opted to do the smart thing, and start this workout series right. I walked away and continued some cardio before going home.

The next day, I headed to another gym, this time, knowing that there was a full range of machines and free weights for me to use, including kettlebells! Perfect. I bought a 10 visit pass, which should be good for between 5 and 6 weeks, depending on rest days. I think I should be seeing results by then, and I’ll make a decision about a membership at that point. Total investment: $77.

The Occam’s Protocol workout is straightforward, and I actually enjoyed finding my starting weights, though it was hard work. Once I was on my true 5/5 cadence sets, to failure, I experience muscular pain like never before.. it was intense. I’m including the myotatic crunch (can barely do 4 at the moment) and the cat vomit (very weird, but felt it working some hidden muscles) and I’ll be doing the kettlebells on the next workout day.

From that first day in the gym, here are my top 5 tips for starting the Occam’s Protocol workouts right:

1/ Double check that the gym you’re headed to has the right equipment, before you pay to go in (seems like a no brainer now that I think about it)

2/ Choose machine or free weights, and stick with one or the other – the weights are not transposable between the different actions

3/ Bring a stop watch! Relying on the clock for rest breaks was tough.. especially when it was out of sight.

4/ Bring a workout book to record your efforts – prepare it before you go with the exercise names, and the date.

5/ Be prepared to practice the timing and rhythm for the myotatic and cat’s vomit exercises a few times, to get it right. It was confusing to being with.

That’s it – the workouts themselves are straightforward, and can be fun, although very challenging! Remember, any progress is good progress, so if you are just starting and don’t feel like the weight’s you’re using are heavy, don’t worry about it! Having done a lot of lifting with some momentum assistance, I really noticed a difference on the shoulder press, and had to drop weights severely, compared to what I thought I could lift.

All the best with your Four Hour Body, and let me know how you’re going with workouts and exercise you’re doing, by leaving a comment below!

You might be interested in reading these too:

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12 Responses to 5 tips for your first Occam’s Protocol workout

  • tissit says:

    Forget stopwatches, even the dumbest cellphone should have a countdown with audible alarm.

  • Gibbo McCool says:

    I find the 5/5 cadence sets difficult especially when your more used to doing 3 sets of 12 reps at around a 2/2 cadence.. Tried counting the five secs but lose count of the reps!

  • Rhonda says:

    I’m having a hard time understanding that only 4 exercises can target the whole body? Leg press targets all lower extremity muscles, but what about bi’s and tri’s, hamstrings etc…

    Are you supposed to stick with this protocol (and for how long),or switch out w/different push/pull variations???

    Anyone else a little confused here???

    • Luke says:

      Hey Rhonda,

      Occam’s Protocol is a minimalist approach to working out, targeting 80% of the results/areas trained by cutting our many additional exercises that people perform in the gym.
      By doing compound exercises: squats, barbell press, Yates row and bench press, you hit the major muscle groups on the body. As these are compound exercises, they work many more muscles than isolation exercises do, ie bicep curls/tricep presses. Though those muscles won’t be getting as much work as they could, this workout develops a balanced strength through the whole body, triggers muscle development and guards against developing overstrong and understrong areas, which can happen with isolation workouts.
      Check out our cheat sheet for more info on the workouts: http://www.fourhourbodycouple.com/2011/02/12/4-hour-body-cheat-sheet-occams-protocol-workout-sheet/

      After a few months, you may want to consider developing your workouts with a few more exercises, if you are very focussed on training, and want the additional 20% of results that Occam’s misses. It’s not the most complete workout, however it is the most efficient ‘bang (strength) for your buck (effort)’ and is easy to stick at over a number of months.


  • Mike Benigni says:

    I had no idea what a 5/5 cadence was until i watched this. (http://youtu.be/St9u0N3b5AQ) Thanks to youtube! I really appreciate all your effort on the site. I’ve been following the plan for 13 days and I’m down 10lbs. This is my first foray into lifting and I was wondering if you have any suggestions for exercises that do not involve weights or having to go to the gym.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Mike, great tip here. It seems almost comical, when you first go to the gym and lift with a 5/5 cadence. Every now and then I still get funny looks, after all these months! But it really does build strong muscles. As a quick test, I checked to see how many dips I could rip out with a 2/2 cadence (still slower than some people go), and was amazed at how many reps I could do. Many, many more than used to be the case!
      You’re making awesome progress! Congratulations.
      For at-home activity, I suggest kettlebells. There’s a range of options including buying actual kettlebells, or making them at home yourself. Alternatively you might want to go with bodyweight exercises, which could be a good base, leading into weight lifting. Try out http://www.maxcapacitytraining.com/ for a great bodyweight program that’s easy to follow.
      All the best!

  • Chris says:

    Hi Luke,

    I just did my third occams workout, so that was workout A again without the build up to find my weight. I failed on the 7th rep as expected, 5/5 cadence, had a three minute rest period and then moved on to the shoulder press, failed on the 7th again which is good, but then i was finished? I know Tim says in the book resist doing more, but surely my workout cant be finished in just 10 minutes?

    • Luke says:

      Hey Chris – congrats on the progress! Getting to the repeated ‘A’ workout is a real milestone. It’s smooth sailing from here.
      As far as the workouts go – Occam’s is a very minimalist protocol.
      The only additions to the workouts you might do are the Ab exercises from ‘Six Minute Abs’ – the myotatic crunch, and the cat vomit. But other than those, that really is the complete workout. Stick with Occam’s for around 8 weeks, to see some great results, and then after that time, consider if you’d like to stick with it, or try a different set of exercises (though none are as minimalist as Occam’s, I prefer the ‘Forgotten 3rd option’ splits, which make for a short workout, but great results).

      All the best,

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