The Forgotten 4 Hour Body workout revealed
The 4 Hour Body is full of great nuggets of information. Some of them, less obvious than others. While we’re all reading about Occam’s Protocol MED workouts, or slow carb fat loss, there are some really valuable ideas that get lost. If you are thinking about workouts, and you’re choosing between Occam’s Protocol and Geek to Freak – did you know there’s a third option? I’m going to guess not, as most people, myself included, miss this one entirely on first reading. It can be an ideal mix though, and yield better results than Occam’s for only slightly more effort.
Having done both Occam’s Protocol and Geek to Freak phases, over approximately 8-10 weeks each, I know which one of the two is my preference. There’s lots of reasons, but put simply, I think Occam’s offers better bang-for-your buck, and is much, much more easily maintained over time. Geek to Freak lacks the flexibility of a shorter workout, which means a longer commitment in time when you go to the gym, and I found the extended breaks between workouts didn’t allow for the kind of momentum I like to build. Plus, the results weren’t great, as I’m pretty sure I was taxed after the first 30 minutes anyway, and wasn’t really challenging all the muscles to their full capacity after that.
Having been frustrated by the Geek to Freak letdown, I went searching a few months ago for an alternative.
At first, I looked back to Occam’s. But, I considering my desire to make the most of my workout months, on the calendar, knowing I would be disrupted in the fall, and this meant I needed effectiveness in the shorter term (2-3 months). Occam’s is an excellent starting series of workouts, and I got great results from it, when going from slow carb to it’s modified eating plan. I did gain some fat, which I have previously written about, however I gained some excellent functional strength, and a good amount of muscle. Enough that I wasn’t concerned wearing a tshirt in front of family any more at least (after a couple were concerned I was ‘sickly’ when I was at my low-weight after slow carb).
Occam’s is also a Pareto Principle-based workout. It is achieving 80% of the results for 20% of the effort. In the case of these workouts, I think it’s more like 80/40, but the idea is still there. It is happy to do away with trying to get 100% of the results, because the extra effort isn’t worth it. But what if an extra 10% of effort yielded another 10% of results? This was the question in my mind, as I thought through the motions and lifts of Occam’s.
What I liked about Geek to Freak was that it clearly changed specific muscles that Occam’s missed. True, they would have been involved in some of the compound lifts, but they weren’t never getting worked to their maximum potential. This bothered me, as I started seeing the weeks passing, and wanted to know I was at least getting the best results for the effort I wanted to put in.
So simply put, Occam’s was great, but I was prepared to put in a little bit more effort, and needed to find how and what would be the best way to do this.
Back to the book, as I was sure the answer was somewhere in the pages. And sure enough, I found what I was looking for.
Buried in the second Occam’s Protocol chapter – a mention that if the rest periods get too distant – for example if you’re worked yourself so hard that you’re taking 7 days of rest between each workout – you’re probably not spiking your growth hormone response as often as you could be, and therefore not getting maximum results month to month. The solution?
The 3rd weights workout option.
Tim Ferriss himself even states that it’s a method he used to gain some serious muscle mass, and I know why, from experience.
Part Occam’s protocol minimalism, part Geek to Freak full body workout, this 3rd workout option actually offers the best of both worlds – great gains, with less time per workout. It does mean going to the gym perhaps once more per week, for a couple of weeks. So without further delay, here it is:
The Forgotten 4HB Workout – The Split Sets
Push, Pull, Legs – repeat
5 second/5 second cadence, 8-10 reps, 1 set of each.
If you’re just getting started on lifting, take 1 day between each workout for rest. If you’ve been lifting, for example, with Occam’s Protocol, take 2 days’ rest between each workout day, and then increase to 3 days’ rest.
- Incline Barbell Bench Press
- Dips (add weight when you can)
- Shoulder-width barbell shoulder press
- Dumbell pullover
- Bent Row (Yates’ Style)
- Close grip, palms-facing pull down
- Slow Dumbell Shrug (2 second pause at top)
- Leg press, feet shoulder-width apart (higher reps – 12 minimum at 5/5 cadence)
- Adduction machine
- Hamstring curl
- Leg extension
- Seated calf raises
Suggested Addition - Alternate between the following two with each workout:
- Myostatic Crunch and Cat Vomit – 10 each
- Kettlebell swing 75 reps
Having followed this program for 6 weeks, I saw a serious gain in strength. The benefits didn’t stop there however – there’s a visible difference in muscle size, too, and I am very satisfied overall with following these workouts.
Following the slow carb diet, with added protein shakes, and starches as suggested for Occam’s Protocol is the best choice. Alternatives include GOMAD, or adding more beans, and vegetables.
Conclusion on this workout
The longer term conclusion is that that is an excellent workout program to follow, that does hit more muscle than Occam’s, but allows for shorter workouts than Geek to Freak. Many of my weaknesses in stabilizing joints have now gone – especially weaknesses I had in my shoulders. I can now confidently do dips, which has never been the case, since I tored a rotator cuff many years ago.
I have been testing a variation of this workout – splitting the 8-10 reps into 2 sets, for a guaranteed failure. I found that sometimes I could reach around 6 reps and then something would just disappear, and I would no longer have more energy to continue. Adjusting weights didn’t help, so I now do 2 sets of 5 reps, which means if I miss failure in the first round, I can drop the weight just slightly, and guarantee failure, with a nice long last rep (10 seconds) to complete muscle failure (think dropping dumbbell in a pullover so that it just misses your head). I like this style of workout, a lot, and find the addition of the ab work, and kettlebell swings is ideal.
My final note: if you’re doing weights workouts of any kind.. stretch. Even just once a week. I haven’t for a couple of months, and I have some serious work to do now. Don’t stretch during your workout, as it fatigues your muscles, but do it the day before a workout.
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