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.

You might be interested in reading these too:

  1. 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...
  2. 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? Here I take a look at the two workouts, and explain which I...
  3. 7 Lessons: Geek to Freak progress and results Geek to Freak is an amazing workout, but there are things can can really hold back your results. One example of this is mis-timing a workout so that I'm finishing it right when...

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78 Responses to The Forgotten 4 Hour Body workout revealed

  • Threadgold says:

    Thanks for the write-up (and all other efforts you’re doing). Over 2 years ago I completed a version of what Tim calls Geek to Freak and put on 12lbs of muscle in 12 days!! Which I didn’t expect because I was already “well built” (250lbs @ 8%BF). I’m curious about your rest period between sets where you split the 8-10 reps (5/5 cadence). Example: Complete 8-10 rep of Incline BB, rest for ‘X’ seconds then complete an additional 8-10 reps of Incline BB. What was ‘X’? Thanks in advance for the feedback and keep up the great work!

    • Luke says:

      Hey man, thanks for your comment!
      That’s a great result with Geek to Freak! I’d love to get some gains like that :)
      I’m in uncharted territory here, so I don’t have references to back up my idea – but what I have been using is a rest that’s long enough to feel recharged – so definitely not a superset. For me I think this is around 3 minutes.
      All the best!

  • Mark says:

    The ad on the bottom of your site (for music by Katherine Penfold) takes up so much screen space it makes me feel like not visiting this site!

    • Luke says:

      Hey Mark, that’s too bad.

      Based on your feedback, please check out the ‘No Music Today Thanks’ link in the player – it closes the player and the player won’t reload no matter how many pages you visit, for that session of browsing. Hope that helps you out and thanks again for the feedback.

      The music is in fact all by Kat, who blogs on this site (and is my partner not just in blogging, but life), so it’s not an ad – more that people had been asking, so we decided to share the music on this site, along with it’s other usual places like Facebook, Twitter and Kat’s website. It’s a test at the moment, and we’re gathering feedback, so we appreciate your thoughts.


  • Seb says:

    This may sound completely stupid, but are the Push/Pull/Legs exercises all performed on different days? ie; push Monday, pull Tuesday, legs Wednesday (not on those exact days).

    And if they’re not did you do the exercises in this exact order?

    I just can’t imagine the “Push” day being longer than fifteen minutes haha!


    • Luke says:

      Hey Seb,

      No stupid questions here!

      Yes, these sets are performed on different days.. but think more like Monday Push, Wednesday/Thursday Pull, Saturday/Sunday/Monday Legs. When you add in the ab exercises, you might have a 20 minute workout! Occam’s protocol proves that you don’t have to be at the gym for a long time to get great gains.

      All the best and enjoy!

  • Pingback: Mistakes in nutrition – preventing more lost gains

  • Tomas says:

    Hey Luke!

    Great website, brother. I have recently read 4 Hour Body and now I’m considering one the workout schedules… either Occam’s or Push /Pull / Legs split.

    G2F seems too long. I like short workouts.

    I’m not really trying to gain as much as fast as possible. Most of the time, Tim mentions 4 weeks or 6 weeks. I want to choose a routine and stick with it for a few months at least. Would the 3 day split be a good choice? I’m definitely trying to gain lean muscle, I’m just not in a rush.

    Also, I won’t be taking any supplements, because I can’t afford it right now.



    • Luke says:

      Hey Tomas, thanks!
      G2F is long.. I would be tired on it about 3/4 through. No good for building muscle.

      It depends a little on your level of experience with doing weights. I would suggest if your experience level is low, then Occam’s is where to start. If you’ve done weights previously, or you’re already quite strong from a physical job, etc, then the splits is a better option.
      Stick with lots of protein from food, like eggs. Also check to see if you can find some cheap unflavored whey protein online – forget the big brands, but look for recommendations in online forums, and such, as some milk/egg product producers will sell bulk protein powder from their warehouse/factory at a fraction the cost of packaged protein from gym supplement stores.

      All the best, hope it goes really well for you! Remember to eat enough.

      • Tomas says:

        Thanks Luke… yeah, I’m gonna go with the split routine.

        As far as protein powder, I would actually prefer milk/egg over whey. Do you have any tips as far as these sales? Just curious.. why unflavored?


        • Luke says:

          hey Tomas,

          Unflavored is the only way you avoid consuming artificial sweeteners, which can affect your blood sugar (even though they aren’t real sugar). There’s also a lot of binding agents, fillers and other useless things that go into ‘brand name’ whey products. Better off to stick with plain and simple whey protein concentrate or isolate if you can afford it. I don’t have any recommendations, sorry – there might be online retailers in your area/country who offer bulk whey purchase – I just bought 2.5kg online for around $55USD (in Australia where I currently am).

          All the best,

  • 4HourJosh says:

    Thank you for your postings, they have given me deeper insight into the book and further confidence in starting this program.

    Keep it up!


  • Ondřej Tureček (@OTurecek) says:

    Hello, I’d like to ask a few questions.
    It looks like that if i will eat 4 meals a day according to the diet and follow occam’s protocol etc., I will also gain some fat or at least, i won’t loose as much as I’d like to, if I understand the majority of other’s resluts correctly. (I’d say my current fat percentage is 14-17, I am 179cm/ 79kg. (My impedance based scale shows sth about 61.6 kg of muscle, idk what this number exactly stands for.) Is it a good idea to include the “ice age” methods from 4hb, at least the first three? no extreme bath:-) Or would it harm the effect of the excercise? I think it could help, asi it focuses on BAT that in fact “burns” fat, not muscles. My goal is to be more muscular, but I’d also like to lower my fat percentage to reasonable level…even to see the 6-pack:-) will it come with the excercise and diet itself? I am not entirely convinced whether to use any supplements for my goal or not. My plan could look like this: occaam’s protocol, diet based on it, ice age methods 1-3. Thanks for advice.

    • Ondřej Tureček (@OTurecek) says:

      I forgot to add I’m 22, I go to the gym, recently i tried a somewhat conventional plan (three times a week, 8 sets of excercises, 2-3 series, 10-12 reps., 50s pauses after 2 series of different excercises) every week=new set of excercises) and on the other days I did some tabata burpee intervals…but i followed this plan for just about 3 weeks, then i read the 4hb and decided to implement some methods. But i saw positive signs anyway.

    • Luke says:

      Your thoughts are pretty spot on. I think choosing one of the workouts from the book is a better idea than the program you were on previously. At your bodyfat percentage, and weight, it depends a little on your goal. If you’d like to add more muscle, you need to balance slow carb meals, with some extra calories, but being careful not too much extra. Providing adequate calories for muscle growth, but also having fat loss can be difficult. An alternate method is to follow strict slow carb, and train only 1 or 2 times a week with weights. Doing this should preserve your muscle mass while allowing you to lose fat. If you get down around 10 or 12 % then you could consider upping your calories a little to build more muscle, while you train 2 times a week, without gaining much or any fat back again.
      Ice therapies will help your recovery, as well as fat loss, so it’s worth testing them for a period of 4-8 weeks and see what you think.
      Occam’s workouts are great, slow carb diet with plain whey protein shakes x2, and ice age will be a good experiment for you! Don’t feel compelled to use supplements, however common ones like creatine and Omega 3′s are well recommended for good reason. PAGG also allowed me to eat quite a lot while training hard, and not gain much fat at all while muscle was building.
      All the best,

  • Jeremy says:

    I just started the split routine and LOVE IT (so far)! My question is, are you following the slo-carb regimen plus brown rice/quinoa or have you been eating a little less slo carb? If you are sticking to it, are you still enjoying an ‘off day” along with your workout regimen? Thanks for your insight–J

    • Luke says:

      Hey Jeremy,
      Glad you’re into the split routine!! It’s pretty awesome I think.
      I do follow the slow-carb regime, I haven’t done brown rice/quinoa for a while though – I incorporate more beans, more protein from meat and some unflavored whey protein powder also. Also have some almonds from time to time. I will have low-carb protein bars if I’m caught in a bind. It’s important to keep calories up.
      All the best with it!

  • Richard says:

    Luke love the routine, started occams in September and had reasonable success for approx. 8 weeks, then hit a wall…..
    Have decided to advance to the “forgotten” routine, was wondering whether there was any “app” you use to track progress. I recently purchased an iPad and am yet to find one suitable.

  • Jan says:

    Hi Luke,

    Great stuff, this article! I can’t wait to start this exercise routine! Three weeks ago, I started the slow carb diet and weighed 183 lbs (I’m 6″ tall), with a body fat percentage of 19.5%. I’m now in my fourth week and on the morning of my last binge day (last Saturday), I weighed 177 LBS, with 17% body fat. Good results! I’ll continue this diet until I reach 15%, after which I’m going to start working out, to replace the lost fat in pounds with lean muscle. That’s the plan, anyway ;) I’ve already bought some supplements that Tim mentioned in the 4HB: cissus quadranguralis, cinnamon capsules, ALA, L-Glutamine, ChromeMate and creatine. Do you suggest anything else? Or maybe even dropping some of these items? Thanks a lot and keep up the good work!!

    With kind regards,

    Jan Theeven
    The Netherlands

    • Luke says:

      Hi Jan,

      Thanks for your comment! Great to hear from you. You have got a good result so far! The supplements you have purchased are a good combination – take the CQ on cheat days, the cinnamon also. Take cinnamon before a meal that has lots of beans in it, if you start eating more to try to gain muscle. Taking the ALA and ChromeMate with each meal, once you’re working out is a good idea. Take the L-Glutamine after a workout (20g), and the creatine every day (5g morning and night if its the powdered form – 3g morning and night if the capsule form).
      I would add to that:
      B Vitamin Complex
      Omega-3 Fish Oil

      Both will help support a healthy body in a number of different ways.

      All the best!

      • Jan says:

        Alrighty then! Thanks a lot for you feedback. I also did some calory counting… and with 4 meals a day, it only added up to 1400. Better start eating more then! :) But… I do feel good, no headaches, enough energy and not hungry between meals… which is kinda weird in my opinion…

        • Luke says:

          Hey Jan, this could be due to your body using your own stored fat to make up the remainder of your calorie requirements. It depends on how you body adapts to a lower carbohydrate diet, but for some people, eating this level of calories works OK, if your body will readily burn your own body fat. For most overweight people, however, the opposite is true – the body tends to be stubborn at burning body fat for energy. Consider going up a little in calories by making your meals a little larger.
          For the ALA – it could help you lose fat, so if you can afford to, and you’re not taking the PAGG stack, then take the ALA while losing fat, and when you’re working out/gaining muscle.

          All the best!

  • Jan says:

    Oh and I just ordered PAG(G) from Pareto, since they’ll ship it to Holland for free ;)

    • Jan says:

      One more addition: I’m not using any supplements during my slow carb diet, except for cinnamon, CQ and ALA prior each meal, but ONLY on cheat/binge days…

    • Luke says:

      Brilliant! You should find the PAGG will increase your fat loss rate. Continue with it until you’re at your goal weight and then switch to the ALA, ChromeMate and Cinnamon once you’re eating more to gain muscle.


      • Jan says:

        Cool :) So should I stop taking ALA on cheat days for now? I’m not working out at all during the slow carb diet period… so you think it’s better to save the ALA for when I do start working out to gain muscle?

  • Angel says:

    Hi luke,

    I read through your entire post/comments, all great information but Im still confused on few things. I hoping you could answer/help me with these as I believe others might find the information useful.

    As far as the workouts go, you mentions you can do Monday Push, Wednesday/Thursday Pull, Saturday/Sunday/Monday Legs.

    Does this literally mean you you repeat the pull exercises on two days and repeat the legs exercise on 3 day? Im probably just over analyzing this because I know your are suppose to allow for adequate rest between work out days.

    The other thing I was going to ask is if you can do the push/pull/legs in a different order. Like monday push, wednesday legs and friday pull.

    This brings me to my final question, could you stack legs with push or pull on one day since they are mostly different muscle groups? What kind of effect do you think that would have on the recovery rate/muscle growth? I was thinking I could maybe do something like: pull and legs on monday then do push and legs on thursday. My thought is that involving more muscles would lead to a great hormonal response in my body.

    Let me know what you think!

    And thank you for all the wonderful information, love the site.


    • Luke says:

      Hi Angel, thanks for your questions.

      Firstly, I apologize for any misundestanding – Wed/Thurs means Wednesday OR Thursday, definitely not both.

      You can stack legs with one OR the other, but your suggestion of doing legs with Pull and Push wouldn’t leave adequate recovery time for you. I have done my squats with my Pull sets for a while now and I like it. I already have good strength in my legs, so my leg workouts aren’t as involved as some people’s.

      The leg workout will give the biggest muscle growth/hormone response, so bear that in mind. But in general, you’ll get development from each and every workout. Following these 2 workouts (Pull + Legs, Push) on a weekly schedule will provide adequate time for healing, as well as give you a good spike in muscle growth every 3 or 4 days.

      All the best!

  • Mitch says:

    Hey Luke, thanks for all the info. What do you think about doing other exercises during this regimen? I like to do cardio, do you think it’s all right to do 20 minutes or so after each weight-lifting session? Or on the off days? Thanks for your help!

    • Luke says:

      Hey Mitch, good question.
      Doing some cardio isn’t a bad idea, have a think about doing intervals, where you go full intensity for a minute, then easy for a minute, and repeat that for perhaps 10 rotations.
      I would definitely go with cardio on an off day, and if you’re thinking about running, or something that involves legs, then don’t do that the day after a leg workout – it will affect your recovery from your workout.
      All the best!

  • Jan says:

    Hey Luke,

    After 7 weeks of doing the slow carb diet and losing 4% fat and 14 lbs (went from 184 to 170 lbs and from 20 to 16% fat), without any exercise whatsoever, I’ve started Occam’s Protocol this week. I’m not a big fan of leg exercises to be honest, so I’ll stick to the push and pull workouts from your “Forgotten 4 Hour Body workout”. I’m still eating basically the same as when I did the slow carb diet, but I add rice to my lunch and dinner, plus half a shake with breakfast and the other half before bed. I also eat a handful of almonds a day and leave out the almond butter in the shakes. Three quick questions: how important is the almond butter in the shakes and is it okay to leave it out when I eat a handful of almonds instead? Can I also use skimmed milk for the shakes/LOMAD instead of semi-skimmed? Do I also need to have one binge day a week? Thanks!

    • Luke says:

      Hey Jan,

      Thanks for your questions and congratulations on your progress!! What an excellent result.
      If I may provide one piece of advice on leg exercises – even if you omit the majority of them, please find a regular place for squats. They are much less a leg-only exercise, and much more about developing a strong chain of muscles from your legs up through your spine. This kind of strength supports all the other lifts you will do, and also alleviates most lower back pain that people may have. A squat of good form works the glutes and hamstrings more than the quads, and therefore also involves the lower back and the ab muscles. It truly is a great exercise, and provides a great foundation for all the other lifts.
      The almond butter in shakes is purely optional. You could indeed drop the almonds altogether, and just add in some extra milk, protein and beans.
      The kind of milk you use isn’t hugely important. Experimenting with different amounts of milk is more important. Lots may lead to some fat gain, too little might stall muscle development. Likewise the rice.
      Now you’re working on gaining muscle, not losing fat, you’re consuming adequate calories (in theory) for not just resting, but also building. This means your leptin levels should be at a good level, and therefore cheat days are no longer necessary. Tim mentions have one day per week where he only eats half his regular food, to ‘prevent protein uptake downregulation’. This needs to be considered as part of a routine, as does mild calorie cycling – ie not eating exactly the same number of calories each day. So one day, go easy on the rice, the next, a little heavier. Or one day, 1 protein shake, the next, 2, for example. The body works better with variances of 100-300 calories per day.
      If you still would like a ‘cheat’, for mental benefits, then you might consider a cheat meal, rather than cheat day, and most people place a cheat meal either a couple of hours before, or immediately after a workout.

      All the best!

      • Jan says:

        It’s the Dutch dude again… ;) Thanks a million for another great reply and for taking the time to answer my questions that elaborately. How many calories do you think I need to take in? When I did the slow carb diet, I consumed only 1600 cal/day… and now around 2800 (with 200 grams of protein). Is that enough for gaining 10-14 lbs of muscle?

        • Jan says:

          I kinda answered my own question this week… I was standing on the scale and I gained 3 lbs… but also 0,5% fat again! In just one week! When I did the slow carb diet without exercise, I was losing 3 lbs and 0,5% fat a week… so Occam’s protocol doesn’t seem to have any effect. I’ll still continue eating like this (minus 250 calories by leaving out the handful of almonds) for one more week and see what the results are. If I still keep gaining that much fat, I’ll have to think of something else… I do everything by the book, including PAGG, cissus quadrangularis, Chromemate, cinnamon, creatine and L-glutamine.

          • Luke says:

            Hey Jan! Sounds like a good result. You want to eat enough to gain muscle, but not so much that you gain a lot of fat. It can take some fine-tuning to know how much this is though, and it’s different for everyone. Plus, as you gain muscle, you need to eat a bit more too. So remember to adjust for that. When you’re 5 lbs heavier, you will need more food than you used to, just to stay that weight.
            Keep up the Occam’s protocol training, and see what you think! If you still gain some fat, then try eating perhaps 250 calories less per day, or cut out some rice, and add in extra beans and protein.
            All the best!

  • Chris says:

    Hey, good info here.
    Maybe a stupid question, but on the mentioned exercises it says, just 8-10 reps. Is it only 1 set each or should I do 2-3 sets of each exercise ?

    • Luke says:

      Hey Chris, thanks for your question.
      This workout follows the same principle of time under tension, or slow-cadence lifting, as Occam’s Protocol. So, 1 set, 8-12 reps, to absolute failure. That means unable to lift the weight any more, not just stopping for the number, and fighting against that fatigue for 10 seconds at the end.

      All the best with it!

  • David says:

    I am turning 50 this August and would love to sport a 6 pack for at least my birthday.
    I have been following the diet for almost a year now and dropped 56 pounds to date.
    I am currently at 210 lbs. I work out m thru f (nothing crazy).I am going to start the push, pull,leg routine in a few days.
    My question is can you do the alternate exercises later in the day separate from the other excerises? I work out 4:30 am to 5:30 am and I dont have access to a bosuball (myostatic crunch) or a kettle bell but, I do at home. The time between the exercises would be 9-10 hours. / Thanks David

    • Luke says:

      Hi David,

      Thanks for writing. Sounds like you have made some incredible progress.. congratulations!!
      I think this format would be fine – the main benefit is in challenging the muscles with each lift, not that the whole workout is performed at once. Though obviously for most people, it is more practical to do one workout all at once. Just make sure you try to keep approximately the same routine, so you can build on your strength (rather than being worn out one week, and energetic the next).
      All the best with it!

  • Jean says:

    Hi Luke

    Me again, just a few things, I injured my left shoulder skiing in January this year and have been seeing a chiropractor who has been giving me some valuable rehabilitation exercises to perform daily. I haven’t done any heavy weight exercises since the injury, but had completed a 6 week program of Occams over Dec/Jan this year before the skiing incident. I have been gyming pretty seriously about 8 months a year since 2007 so I am familiar with most exercises technique-wise. My chiropractor suggested that I continue with weights but the ones he demonstrated were a very specific movement – cables moving diagonally from top to bottom and vice versa, I can’t remember what the ‘range of motion term’ was though. My question is, how can I incorporate those specific shoulder exercises with the split sets? He mentioned I shouldn’t go too heavy as there is still a slight discomfort in my shoulder. He, along with almost everyone else I’ve chatted to have also stated that dumbells are a better option than barbell exercises because barbells can cause rounding of the shoulders and muscular imbalances if the exercises are not performed 100% correctly. Because of this notion, I have always stuck with dumbells. Could barbells cause further damage to my shoulder? Or what would you suggest? Thanks once again!


    • Luke says:

      Hey Jean,

      Sounds like a complex situation. So, here’s a few answers for you.
      Dumbells vs barbell – it all depends on what exercise you’re doing. Perhaps with a bench press, and dumbell bench press allows you to go wide and potentially not round your shoulders as much, but if you’re doing something like a Yates Row with an EZ curl barbell, there’s no way that’ll round your shoulders, in fact it will pull them back. So it’s down to what exercises you do.
      Considering you have an active injury, and want to incorporate weights training, it’s definitely not my place to comment on modifications to workouts, or recommendations of what to do. You will need to develop a program in conjunction with your treating professional, and perhaps a personal trainer who is well experienced in rehabilitation situations, as jumping back into a regular weights program could damage things again.
      One tip though – if your chiro is recommending doing weights, but not going too heavy, he doesn’t understand the purpose of weights training. The only really useful amount of weight to use is the heaviest you can lift 8-12 times (in regards to a weight training program like Occam’s). Any less, and you may well be lifting the same weights for months, without muscle development.
      All the best,

  • Jean says:

    Also, what is the dumbell pull over? Is that the seated tricep workout where you pull the dumbell over your head? Thanks

    • Luke says:

      Hey Jean, Dumbell pullover is what you mentioned – though there’s less focus on the triceps and more focus on pulling the whole weight over your head and down to chest height, then going back up over your head. This involves different muscles than if you were to bend your elbows as a pivot point. That would be more of a ‘skullcrusher’ and your upper arms wouldn’t move in that case.
      All the best,

  • Charlie E. George says:

    Hi Luke,
    Im about to finish a four week occams protocol using the Push/Pull/Legs method. I’ve gained about 6 Kgs so far. Im taking a break for about two weeks after which i hope to start again. During these to weeks im going to focus on a slow carb diet plan to reduce a few kilos. My question is whether its ok to do some 24hour fasts a few times during these two weeks? will it affect my muscle gains? Should i workout at the end of each fast? what are your thoughts? Should i drink whey protien during the fast?


    • Luke says:

      Hey Charlie, great result! For North American readers, that’s around 15lbs gained.

      A couple of 24 hour fasts shouldn’t affect muscle gains, but be aware that a couple of slow carb weeks may reduce your strength a little. Muscles seem to have a ‘settling in’ period, around which they’re easier to lose again. Don’t let this put you off what you’re planning though, because this approach can be used over, for example, 3 cycles, to make great muscle gains and keep fat gain to a minimum. Keep the protein up during your off weeks, but don’t go too crazy on carbs. A little extra fat for energy might be needed, as you’re bigger than you were before.

      I would avoid whey protein during the fast, as it is a food and can affect insulin a lot. There’s different schools of thought on workouts after a fast. Some people report great results, though there’s a period of time that it take to acclimatise to this training. You could definitely try it – even have a cup of blueberries an hour before your workout, to pump a little bit of glucose into your system.

      All the best, and let me know how it goes!


      • Rocko says:

        Hey Luke!

        So I just finished reading the book I couldn’t put it down, I’m super pumped to get rolling with the diet and workout programs. My questions are firstly im looking to build mass and lean out, im 6’2 about 245 decent build but a few extra pounds of fat, should i be doing the slow carb diet while doing the geek to freak workout?? Also, I like to work out in the morning, I usually have a protien shake before I hit the gym, would you suggest I modify the diet? Or eat a big meal as soon as I wake up before hitting the gym? Or go on an empty stomach? Also what are your thoughts on cardio during this process?

        • Luke says:

          Hey Rocko,

          Good on you!! Sounds like you’re wanting to cut down some fat and maintain the muscle you already have. For this purpose, I’d suggest split workouts, or the Occam’s workouts. The Geek to Freak are too far and few between.

          A protocol for someone in your position could look like this:
          - slow carb meals 4x a day
          - 2x weights workouts (very high intensity) per week (25 mins each)
          - 2x interval training workouts per week (20 mins maximum)
          - If you’re hungry, or losing too quickly, add in extra meat protein at 2 meals per day

          I would train on an empty stomach in the morning, rather than eating, then go with slow carb meals all day. Leave the protein shakes out of the equation for 4 weeks, and see how you do.

          All the best,

  • Alex says:

    Does anyone else find it strange that dumbbell pullover, a chest exercise, is grouped along with the back exercises in the pull workout? Doesn’t this interfere with the rest & recovery time for chest muscles?

    • Luke says:

      Hey Alex,

      I’ve noted the same thing, however there’s a couple of ways to do a pullover, and one way involves a lot more of the lats, and less of the chest. The pullover that I’ve done with this workout is one that doesn’t involve flexion (bending) of the elbows, so the triceps isn’t getting a workout (it’s worked in the other workout more I feel) and the main place I feel it is lats, abs (for stabilization) and also dead center of the chest. But not in the pectoralis major – which connects to the shoulder.

      Let me know what you think. It is a bit of an odd-ball.


  • Paul says:

    Hey Luke – Is it best to do the exercises in the morning before breakfast or does it not really matter? sometimes it’s hard to get a work out in, in the morning but then again the workout durations are so short!

    • Luke says:

      Hey Paul it really doesn’t matter, whatever works for your schedule. You may find that you’re stronger in the afternoon/evening, even after a full day of work. There are hormone cycles that regulate many different hormones, and pain signals too – and pain is at it’s lowest around 5 til 6, which is a good thing for working out!
      All the best,

  • Tyler says:

    Hey luke,

    I’ve been reading as much as I can find on the 4hb workout plans etc. much of what I’m finding seems relatively contradictory. I haven’t read the book, but I can tell that it is aimed at fat loss and muscle gain. I’m in a different situation. I’m about 6 foot and 150-155 pounds. My goal is to GAIN weight. My body fat is around 6%. The biggest part of any routine for me is the diet. This is also the hardest part. I have a hard time eating a lot of food. It sucks. But from what I’ve read on the workout plans the idea is either full body work out 3 times a week. Push pull leg split. Or something else. They seem contradictory and It hasn’t really made sense to me yet. So my question is what is the goal of the splits/ work outs. A couple people are doing push pull legs, which seems good but you’re losing a lot of essential hormonal production by not doing full body every day. Also what are the sets an reps for the lifts. I’ve read 8-10 reps and 5/5 cadence but 4hb also calls for negative only lifts, and 80 second minimum effective dose work outs. Where does this all come together? Thanks in advance.

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Hey Tyler,

      Thanks for writing, and apologies for the delay getting back to you. Your question is well framed, and specific enough that I can give a very specific answer, but I want to make clear for other people reading this that this relates specifically to Tyler and his challenge of not gaining much weight.
      With where you are right now, the focus needs to be on stimulating the muscles to grow and then providing them with adequate nutrition. Considering this, I would favor two full body workouts per week for 6 weeks and then see where things are at. You should be able to gain at least 5-8 lbs in that time. If you don’t then the nutrition is most likely the problem.
      If I was to coach you, the initial plan would be to use slow cadence, 5/5 workouts, but with 2 sets if you don’t have a spotter, to account for not achieving absolute failure and you would be working sets with a total time of 80-120 seconds each. With this in mind, you’d be drinking pre and during workout protein shake, and you’d be consuming post workout carbs as sweet potato and/or rice in the meal after the workout.
      The other thing to look at though is hormone balance and if there’s anything at work that’s holding back growth. So, fasting and evening higher fat meals to boost testosterone and growth hormone, along with looking at sleep and stress, and increasing the quality of sleep, and minimizing stress. Over time, hormones should be enhanced and allow more growth.
      With regards to food, slow carb probably isn’t nutrient dense enough for you, and also is probably too long in carbohydrates considering your very lean body type. For this reason, I’d suggest some carbs like quinoa or sweet potato with daily meals.
      I hope that helps you out, it’s a custom build based on 4hb principles.

      All the best,

  • Nicholas mangold says:

    Quick Question…
    I am in High school and Run Cross Country and Play lacrosse… I am 5’11 and about 180 pounds… cross country is new to me but i enjoy it and would like to become A better runner…. but i also really need to increase my strength for lacrosse. (I am week for my size) So my question is… should i run and also do the workout? or should i focus on the workout and wait until season to focus on my running more and less on the strength. Also are supplements and the diet required, or at least highly recommended to see the strength gains for this workout? Or can i skip them?

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Hey Nicholas,
      For the kind of strength gains you’re talking about, you’d be best off, in general, to skip the running. An ideal training schedule would be heavy weights and ample nutrition in pre-season, with a goal of adding muscle bulk and strength, then during the season, just play and train, and keep up the nutrition. Studies have shown that hockey players lose muscle through a season because they play and train with weights. You could do weights once a week during the season most likely, but only if you have at least 2 full days of rest after that. As for running, you’ll need to decide which is more important – you’ll be making compromises on one or the other, or both, because you won’t be able to train in an ideal way for both at the same time. As for supplements and the diet – the most high quality nutrition is what you need – so plenty of meat, loads of vegetables and some sweet potato, plus some healthy fats like fats with the protein (eggs, animal fat), and avocado. As you’re in high school I’ll leave the supplements question alone, but you should consult a healthcare professional if you’re thinking about taking supplements.

      All the best,

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