Occam’s Protocol vs Geek to Freak Workouts

Are you trying to choose between one workout and the other? Not sure where to start? Or thinking about changing? In this comparison, I take a look at the two workouts, and explain which I prefer and why.

Occam’s vs G2F – which is better?

The extreme-mass ‘Geek to Freak’ workout up against the minimalist workout series Tim Ferriss dubbed ‘Occam’s Protocol’.

In one corner, we have a full, total body workout that includes compound and isolating exercises, that lasts up to an hour. It’s goal is extreme muscle gain and strength benefits.

In the other corner, we have a Minimum Effective Dose workout that uses compound exercises only, short gym sessions, as a way to get a large muscle and strength gain with the least amount of effort and time.

Let’s take a look at how these 4 Hour Body workouts differ:

Geek To Freak workout

Number of exercises: 9-11

Average length of workout: 45-60 mins

Average frequency of workout: 1 every 5/6/7 days

Occam’s Protocol

Number of exercises: 2-4

Average length of workout: 25 mins

Average frequency of workout: 1 every 4/5 days

Now let’s take a look at some similarities in these workouts:

Sets/Reps: 1 Set, 7-8 reps (with 1 exception)

Cadence: 5/5 (with a couple of exceptions)

Goals: Muscle mass gains, strength gains

Supplements: Similar – Creatine, L-Glutamine, ChromeMate, ALA, SloNiacin, CalMag, Policosanol

Diet: Slow carb as a base, with brown rice/quinoa, protein shakes, LOMAD if necessary.

So which is better? Which one wins?

For most people, Occam’s Protocol offers a more effective workout option that achieves most of the results that we’re looking for.

But there’s a little more to it. With the frequency of Occam’s Protocol workouts, the window for a large feeding session is opened more often, which means then that there’s more opportunities over a month, or two months, to bring in a lot of food, and have it go towards muscle development and growth. That’s not to say that extreme muscle development isn’t going to happen with Geek to Freak though.

The Geek to Freak workout offers a more complete workout, which does hit some muscle groups that Occam’s misses. This means more overall muscle growth, and depending on how food is fine-tuned (ie lower carbohydrates on non-workout days), this can lead to extreme gains with not a lot of additional fat. Avoiding fat gain is a little more difficult with Geek to Freak, however.

So which do I prefer? Quite simply, I prefer Occam’s Protocol, for the simple reason that it feels like half the workout, and gets most of the results. I also prefer the frequency of workouts, and the length. I didn’t feel like I could give 100% to every exercise on Geek to Freak, because I simply ran out of energy during the workout.

Your results may vary, depending on your energy levels, your speed of recovery, and of course your preferences. I recommend, for the majority of people, that Occam’s Protocol is the better choice of the two. But stay tuned for my take on the mystery third alternative, which I am experimenting with currently.

Let me know what you think – Occam’s is better? Or Geek to Freak?? Leave your thoughts below!

You might be interested in reading these too:

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  2. 4 Hour Body Cheat Sheet: Occam’s Protocol Workout Sheet Hey everyone, as it's time for me to start on the Occam's Protocol workout, I wanted to share with everyone the 'cheat sheet' that I've made up to take to the gym with...
  3. Starting Occam’s Protocol workouts Well, the time has come for the next phase of our Four Hour Body experiment. Having gone through a fat loss phase, using the slow carb meals and nothing more, we're moving on...

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37 Responses to Occam’s Protocol vs Geek to Freak Workouts

  • Arjan says:

    Hey Luke,

    thanks for sorting that out! I’m currently running 4 weeks of Slow Carb (now in week 3) and will change diet and turn to training from there. I’m probably going for Occam’s but are also very curious about your third version. Perhaps all Kettlebell?

    Luke and Kat, keep providing this awesome content, I’m hooked :)

    • Luke says:

      Hey Arjan, we’re excited that you’re hooked! Really happy to be able to help you.

      Congrats on getting going with Slow Carb :)

      I really think Occam’s is a fantastic workout program, and highly recommend it to start with. I think 6-8 weeks of Occam’s is a great way to get into weight training, and depending on results you can go different directions from there.

      My mystery third option will be revealed soon.. though I can tell you it is not all kettlebells, as I am looking for large strength and muscle mass gains, and more likely kettlebells will result in more lean, powerful muscles, vs size and weight. (Not that I want to be crazy-huge, just looking to get beyond a ‘ceiling’ I have).

      All the best,

  • Stephen says:

    Thank’s for this Luke. I think I agree, simply because of the time factor. I am finding that doing Occam’s Protocol (despite the limited exercises) leaves me feeling as though I had a complete workout. Plus as a benefit some of the aches and pains I was feeling prior to the initiation of the workout have resolved. Specifically a lateral epicondilitis which I now attribute to years of the bench press. I guess though it depends on what your goals are. I like to use weight training as a SUPPLEMENT to the sports I truly love, and for this it is just ideal… especially as I near the 1 x per week period. I am eager to see how well Occam’s Protocol’s work over the upcoming year.

    • Luke says:

      Time is a huge factor here, and also like you say, the Occam’s workouts leave you feeling like you have done a complete workout. Nothing like going all out because you know there’s 3 exercises in your visit.
      Interesting that your ‘tennis elbow’ has cleared up, and that you feel it’s from bench press.. thanks for sharing that, I’m sure other people will be interested to hear about it.

      I think your thoughts on using weight training to supplement your sports you love is spot on. Likewise I also believe strongly in using weights training to correct lifestyle issues such as bad posture from sitting a lot, and curing back pain by strengthening the core and lower back. I had based a lot of my training around sports-functions up until my start on 4HB, when I decided to go fully into the workouts and find what they had in store for me. I am actually now more functional in some sports (that require running, jumping, agility) due to the increase in strength. Definitely not what I expected from some slow cadence weights.

      Remember to keep things changing, otherwise you may plateau over time, but I’m sure you’ll recognize that and adjust as needed. Keep an eye out for my ‘mystery’ third option that is not Occam’s or G2F, that I am enjoying immensely at the moment.

      All the best,

  • Interesting comparison.

    I’m curious; are you sure about the list of supplements on Occam’s? Tim’s recommendations are different.

  • James says:

    Hi Luke,

    I have completed my first 4 workouts of occams, the first onces being the weight finders.

    After the 2nd workouts my muscles dont ache anywhere near as much as the first workouts, after i have done an exercise to failure pushing quite hard, i feel like i could do more not too long after. so right now I have another 2 days until my next workout A and i feel fine!

    Do you experience anything similar with occams? i know its not about time spent in the gym, but i was expecting to feel a little more fatigued!

    Thanks :)

    • Luke says:

      Hey James,

      I was actually having a very similar conversation with a friend just recently. Aching after a workout is one way of telling if your muscles are developing, however sometimes that ache isn’t nearly as substantial. This seems to be dependent on a few things, but rest assured that you next workout results will tell the story – either you’ll be stronger or you won’t be. If you are no stronger, then consider nutrition, sleep and workout quality – if any of these is lacking, then muscles may not be able to recover to be stronger. Nutrition – ensure adequate calories and protein, sleep – ensure a minimum of 7 hours a night, ideally 8-9, workout quality – consider using a metronome to count out the cadence, while you focus on pushing beyond pain and anxiety, and achieving total muscle failure. It might pay to use a spotter, and see just how many reps you can do with a little assistance towards the end, then do a long slow rep to finish. You should be totally fatigued right then. Also consider loading up more weight if this looks like a pattern over 2-3 workouts. It’s possible your weight finding day wasn’t your average strength, and your weights are a little low.

      All the best,

  • Rich Palarea says:

    Like the post above, I’m wondering where the “work” is in “workout”. I’m used to 45 minute to 1 hour workouts that usually leave me very fatigued and then sore the next day, but I recover and go back two days later.

    I’ve moved from A/B workouts and added a few more exercises just for my mental stability. Tim says the big temptation will be to add exercises and he is right. I just feel like I’m not doing much at the gym when I go.

    I’ve been doing the A/B workouts for two weeks now and feel like I’m lifting heavier weights, but I’m not seeing any progress in my appearance. I don’t want to get frustrated and overtrain, but it is a tough program to do when you are by yourself and everyone else is training like crazy around you. Any suggestions?

    • Luke says:

      Hey Rich,

      You’re right, it’s tough. The key is to be sure that you are truly reaching positive failure on your lifts. Once you have failed, you have signaled your body that it needs to build more muscle. It’s that simple.
      If you want a complex answer, with plenty of science to recite in your mind as you carry out short gym sessions, read ‘Body by Science’ which Tim mentions in his book. It’s an excellent book – well researched.

      Sticking with Occam’s Protocol workouts for around 8 weeks should give you the evidence you need to stick with 1 set, slow lifts, and developing more muscle mass. Ensure you aren’t overdoing cardio, and you’re eating extra calories, if your goal is muscle gain.

      All the best,

      • Rich Palarea says:

        Luke – thanks for the reply. After reading what you wrote and thinking about it more, I might have just needed to be “talked off of the ledge” a bit. I had a really good workout today. I am noticing that I can consistently add either 10 lbs or 10% to my previous lifts, which is encouraging. I’m just hoping that the mirror starts to tell the story that the gym is telling. Thanks, again. Great website.

  • timmo says:

    All great feedback. i am used to longer sessions and constantsoreness as a testiment to my effort but having done 28 days on the a/b programme i am blown away by the difference in the lean muscle mass gain. Make sure you do a body composition test first and the results will speak for themselves.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Timmo,

      Thanks for your comment!
      That soreness is a familiar feeling for so many people that go to the gym – myself included! You’re very right about the Occam’s Protocol workouts – the minimalist approach still yields some incredible muscle mass results, especially for people who’ve been training really hard.

      All the best!

  • Arpan says:

    Hey Luke,

    I actually think that g2f may be better! Physiologically, i think tim likes the full body workouts, and if one can power through these, then it could work well. monday and friday workouts work well for me, and as i’ve a hugely busy job, i could do with the extra time to actually work! but agreed with the fact one could tire towards the end and not be able to give 100%, so starting with the big multi-joint movements… leg press, back and chest. the arms should get a good workout with these…

    • Luke says:

      Hey Arpan,

      You make a good point. If you’re able to get through a longer workout, the time saving aspect is appealing. I have experimented with other training./diet methods where there was one, very large workout each week, as it followed 36 hours of carb loading. This worked very well, because you feel like you have endless amounts of energy. So, if you were following something like the slow carb diet during the week, I could see a Geek to Freak workout doing really well on Sunday, after lunchtime. This way you would be doing the workout the day after the cheat day, which is when carbohydrate storages are replenished. If muscle gain was the number 1 goal, you could in fact continue the carb meals through Sunday morning.

      All the best,

  • vlad says:

    hi, Luke,
    i really love your blog and maybe you can help me with my problem.
    i’m on the slow carb diet since july of 2012. i was never really heavy though. being 180m tall, i was at 69-72 before starting with slow carbing.
    now i’m around 64,5kg. even the slipping off slow carb around helloween, x-mas and new years didn’t get me more weight. i never got to start with one of the workout routines from the book, nor with kettlebells, which i plan now. what(nutrition, excercises) do you think will lift me to my target body weight of around 70-72kg? i’ve just had enough to hear, that i became too skinny. on the other hand i’m sceptical, that i can gain 5kg of muscles in a short amount of time, because even being an active person(inline skating, swimming, walking), i’ve never had that much muscles. :)

    p.s.: for some reason unknown to me, the text even copied and pasted from an text editor, appears bold and in caps

    • Luke says:

      Hey Vlad,
      Thanks for your question.
      My suggestion for you is to focus on the Occam’s Protocol workouts. Set a course for the eating plan that goes along with it, and do the workouts and the eating. You’ll have to see what timeline your body works to, but with this combination you could be gaining 1-2kg per month.
      As far as inline skating, swimming and walking go, none of them will build a lot of muscle, because they’re more repetitive, cardio type activities that you never truly reach a failure point in your muscles with. To build lots of new muscle, you need to take your muscles to the point of failing, completely. Then they’ll build more muscle for next time! Just make sure you eat enough. I suggest double checking the book’s recommendations on this, and continue to add more food as you add weight.

      All the best,

  • Vlad says:

    Im starting the occam’s workout plan This week. Can I get away with the workout and diet, but not all the supplements? I am new to this, and it feels a little scary to add so many chemicals, or additives to my life. What kind of results will I get with just the extra protein diet and workout?

    • Luke says:

      Hey Vlad,

      You can definitely do the workouts, the food and not supplements. My suggested supplements are Omega 3 (fish oil) and Creatine. Other than that, I think some of the pre workout supplements aren’t that healthy.


  • Lonnie Mcquary says:

    Ingesting protein alone won’t build muscle. Your muscles need to be worked first at which point protein is effective in feeding muscles during your workout and will aid in the rebuilding process afterward. Ingesting more protein than your body needs will not provide any benefit, and can, in fact, put a great deal of stress on your liver and kidneys.*;^-

    Our very own web page

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Hi Lonnie, thanks for your comment. I just want to correct one piece – eating a lot of protein WILL NOT put stress on the liver and kidneys, unless you already have liver or kidney disease. That’s a VERY important distinction to make.
      All the best,

  • Thiago says:

    What are your thoughts on keeping occam’s as my workout for life? i completely love how i can go for like not even 2 hours a month and still have muscles but if it misses some muscles groups wouldn’t it be a bad for you long term?

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Hey Thiago,

      Good question! I think Occam’s is a great workout plan, and works well for a compressed schedule. If you’re doing other active things, then I think that you could keep using it. If it’s your only activity, yes, you might like to move to the ‘forgotten third workout’ option that the book describes, which is more complete, but still doesn’t take too much time.

      All the best!

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