I've just read the Four-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss.  It seems on the face of it like ridiculously valuable material, if true - like what the completed version of Michael Vassar's proposed reboot of dietary science would look like at the finish point if dieting turned out to be more susceptible to Munchkinism than in my wildest dreams.  Ferriss also talks the rationalist talk quite well in this book, much more so than in Four-Hour Workweek; he cites the experiments and occasionally says things like "I spent a lot of money on this and I expected it to work and it didn't work at all" or "I tried this and it seemed to work and I have no idea why it worked and I think it was probably a placebo effect."

Does the LessWrong hivemind have an opinion about 4HB?  Has anyone tried it and found that it doesn't work, or that it does work, or that it works but not as well as Ferriss thinks it should work?

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I have been on the slow-carb diet a few months now. It's working very well indeed ... for me personally. It's working because I like all the foods on it - it suits my personal tastes - and dropping 15kg in just a few weeks left me feeling enormously better and bouncier, which is strong incentive to keep to it.

Also, the Cheat Day strikes me as genius, just as practical psychology. I expect this to show up in fad diets in the future.

I wrote a long blog post about it, when I feared that telling friends had risked other-pessimising. Basically: a fad diet will work for its inventor, but not necessarily for anyone else - either because it just doesn't seem to match their metabolism (as you found with the Shangri-La diet) or because the subject finds it near-impossible to keep to (e.g. some friends on the Slow-Carb Diet).

(The real problem is that civilisation has more or less solved the food problem, but our genes don't know this, so we pack on the fat in anticipation of lean times that never come. To lose weight in a world of abundant food, we need to behave unnaturally. And different people's metabolisms seem to require different unnatural behaviours.)

It's plausible that it works for me because, like Ferriss, I have a lot of Scandinavian and particularly Danish ancestry - so stuff that works for him might work well for me too. Worth a try! I have no idea if it works for Ashkenazi Jews, but he doesn't say it doesn't ...

I haven't tried the exercise stuff yet, because I am lazy. I have taken to stairs rather than elevators or escalators and to walking a lot, though.

I must recommend strong caution concerning Tim Ferriss' grasp of what constitutes evidence. I tried tracking down his claim that the ECA stack (which he does correctly describe as a dangerously bad idea) was scientifically proven. When I traced back through the citations he gave - as detailed in my blog post - I ended up at text deleted from an old Wikipedia revision because it was covered in [citation needed]. So assume everything he says works for him, but test personally - any scientific explanation he gives may be correct, may be almost-correct or may be made entirely of magical pink unicorns.

Also, the Cheat Day strikes me as genius, just as practical psychology. I expect this to show up in fad diets in the future.

It is a good indicator of your rationality that you have successfully expected the past. Cheat days are not new, they've appeared in fad diets in the past, and will almost certainly do so in the future.

http://www.zonediet.com/forums/aft/4522 http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/features_julieshealthclub/2008/06/pats-junk-foo-1.html

There are lots of other popular diets with time-restricted indulgence, like for example Ori Hofmekler's Warrior Diet.

Thank you, I hadn't heard of these. I'm slightly surprised I hadn't heard of cheat days before. The reason they strike me as brilliant is that so many people (I don't know a percentage, just that it's anecdotally common) break their fad diet then give up, and a cheat day channels the urge nicely for me and may do for others.

The real problem is that civilisation has more or less solved the food problem, but our genes don't know this, so we pack on the fat in anticipation of lean times that never come.

I'm curious to know how many of us (I raise my own hand here) apparently have genes which do know this.

I've never paid much attention to diet beyond "eat what I want when I want", or exercise beyond "do what I feel like doing" (this does not mean "eat sugar all day and laze around", but it doesn't resemble Tim Ferriss' regime either), yet my weight has been around 120-130 pounds for all of my adult life.

Probably not appropriate to ask, but how tall are you? 130 pounds is very light I would imagine if you are a man.

It's hardly a private attribute! I am 5' 7". And male, as my name suggests.

Fairly normal it would seem from a BMI(doesn't account for body composition) context.

"eat sugar all day and laze around"

I've been following that regimen lately and am 5'10"/5'11" and 130 pounds. I am 19 years old though, there are probably a lot of people my age who manage the same trick. I've noticed there seem to be a lot more >6'1" skinny guys than <6'1". I'm not sure if that's just 'cuz better general genetic fitness, specializing in attractiveness, the mechanics of anatomy, halo effect, not-necessarily-genetic racial differences, and/or many other possible factors.

I am 19 years old though, there are probably a lot of people my age who manage the same trick

Like me! I'm a year younger, but our height/weight stats are incredibly similar (I think you're a bit taller).

I'm curious to know how many of us (I raise my own hand here) apparently have genes which do know this.

My daughter seems to. Her mother and older sister are both stick figures (the middle sister takes a little more after her father, who was plumpish), and she tends not to eat all of any given meal and never has. (Though on Saturday she ate chocolate until she threw up, and thereby learnt an important lesson about gorging oneself on chocolate ... maybe.)

Ferriss also has a suggested plan for skinny guys who want to bulk up, FWIW.

Ferriss also has a suggested plan for skinny guys who want to bulk up, FWIW.

I prefer to address function and let form follow.

Interesting coincidence, I hadn't seen this thread when it was posted, and yet I independently decided to go ahead with this and buy the book Monday (June 13) and start it the evening of the next day.

So far I'm just doing the slow-carb diet and the testosterone-promoting protein shake (whole milk + eggs + cinammon + almond butter). I haven't done the specific exercises he mentioned, but I did do some strength training since he mentioned it's important to go along with the shake.

No real noticeable progress so far, since I'm only about 3 days into it, but strangely enough (for me) I was able to keep carbs and fruit out completely! Some of the stuff (mainly the shake) made me sick to my stomach a few hours later but didn't lead to anything further like vomiting. Will keep the group posted.

I tried it (for building muscle), kept to the instructions fairly strictly and saw improvements over my regular workout, but nowhere near the results described in the book. Much of the book makes sense, but it might be overly specific to his own physiology, and/or have non-functional components mixed in by mistake.

Having lurked here for a while, I think that one of the reasons that some LWers have difficulty with exercise and diet is due to a crisis of optimization: given the wildly divergent claims of popular fitness gurus and the murky state of exercise science research, it's hard to know where to start.

I'd suggest that exercise and diet are areas in which experience, persistence, and self-experimentation are unusually important. I've been engaged in the serious practice of some form of physical exercise for virtually all of my adult life, and somewhat more casually in the observation of others doing the same. Some thoughts in the context of popular 'quick fix' programs:

Doing something consistently for a long period of time, working hard, and working harder as you get better are much more important than what you do. Most exercise programs published in books or magazines revolve around 2, 3, or 4 month plans. Even if you're devoting a lot of time to it, that is nothing compared to the physically active lifetime of the average person. It's barely enough time to become familiar with the program, let alone excel in it. It's OK to try different things to find something you like, but when you do, stick with it.

Individuals are highly variable in their adaptations to exercise and diet, but also highly adaptable. Over time, you'll learn the more unusual aspects of your physiology. Be extremely wary of thinking anything as a limitation or weakness until you have considerable experience with it (by considerable, I mean on the order of years). Learn to work around problems by trying small variations, one at a time.

Everything works for beginners. As your "training age" increases, it becomes more difficult to make improvements, and the importance of record keeping, analysis, and outside coaching becomes more important.

High-intensity programs, such as the ones that are currently in vogue, are quite effective in the 8-12 week window that comprises most popular programs. This is why they're popular. When training becomes consistent, over a period of years, intensity becomes a tool that needs to be used more specifically.

Fat loss is a matter of caloric deficit. You can achieve caloric deficit through increased activity or decreased caloric intake. Decreasing caloric intake is faster and more effective for most people living the average western lifestyle, but doing both is best. In the context of fat loss, diet plans are an enabler for caloric deficit. Plans that emphasize special food combinations often work well, but this is subject to individual variation. The most effective parts of these plans can be summarized as: 1) don't eat crap, and 2) don't eat a lot.

There are three components to a well rounded exercise plan: strength, conditioning, and mobility. Do all three, consistently and over a long period of time. You'll figure stuff out.

[-][anonymous]11y 9

I read 4HB. It is valuable, even if some of the methods won't get people the same results he had.

If the options are "status quo" or "give Slow Carb a shot," I vote Slow Carb.

If other options are on the table, or if Slow Carb fails you, I vote for

  • http://www.archevore.com/get-started/
  • The Perfect Health Diet (by Drs. Jaminet)
  • a non-Cordain, non-DeVany attempt at Paleo. Most paleo folks would consider turkey & bananas not to be a good paleo diet foundation. I second EvelynM's meat + greens. Especially grass-fed red meat obtained from quality non-factory farms.

I've lost a good bit of weight within those three guidelines (added IF recently for even more health benefit), but YMMV.

And if you don't already, use thedailyplate or fitday or a similar service to track calories and nutrient ratios for dietary self-experimentation. Can't analyze the data if you don't track it.

Best of luck

Archevore website is defunct, but I found an archived copy here:


I thought I was doing modified Paleo but I guess I'm really just doing Archevore. Well, when I stick to my diet, anyway. :)

Thanks for the link.

I began today the Every Man Sleep Work Schedule, and will eventually state results here. I tried, for scientific purposes [cough] the 15 minute orgasm, and it did not work in first trial.

I very strongly suggest that people read only what they will actually do of the 4 hour body, it is an addictive book with content that is only useful if you will actually use it. I only read sleep and orgasm, and abdominal exercises (In fact, Tim suggests this minimal approach to reading in four hour workweek)
Don't overwhelm yourself with non-executable knowledge. Learn, do, memorize, make it part of you, then learn the next thing.

Funny, this article doesn't appear under the "new" articles list of LW, I just found it by coincidence when looking under Eliezers contributions. Is this a bug?

I have some relatively strong anecdotal evidence coming from a low-fat diet to a (somewhat) low carb diet, and from 4x/week strength training with lots of faster reps to 2x/week of exercise with very few slow reps, that the 4HB guidelines are on to something.

The biggest thing I discovered after listening to the patronizingly 4-hour-abridged 4HB audiobook is that there's very little relationship between (willpower, time investment) and benefit.

ridiculously valuable material, if true

Yeah, well... a lot of things are like that, trouble is you cannot tell if they are or not. Certainly the justification for the 4HB claims is grossly inadequate, and you, of all people, should have been able to tell that.

My opinion of the book (I read about 40%, cbb with the rest): 80% common sense, 10% stupid advice, 10% - who knows, but chances of it being good are low (a bit like religious texts, heheh). It's main value is that it is somewhat entertaining, and it might inspire some people to do some exercise.

I read it as soon as it came out, and tried the diet. I lost 5 pounds in 1 month. Then I quit the diet (kept the exercises) and lost 8 pounds the next month. No clue why. Since then I've incorporated some permanent changes to my diet: slow carb meals for lunch and dinner and a teaspoon of almond butter before bed. I still eat high-carb breakfasts since I can't stomach meat in the morning. Before the diet I was consistently 208 lbs (5'8). I'm currently 192 lbs, and have been around there for months (188-194).

I kept doing his most highly recommended exercises (kettle bell swings and cat-vomit exercise.) I also do squats, bench press, deadlift and dumbbell curls. I do less than 1 hour of deliberate exercise per week.

(kettle bell swings and cat-vomit exercise.)

Are you doing them in the minimal doses he describes, and are you getting the results he did? I ask because they're on my mental list of "should get around to really" :-)

I think dieting correctly is not so much a matter of discovering an ideal list of foods, as discovering the many things that can go wrong. Some of those things are more complex than any particular food or chemical being good or bad; in particular, timing matters (multiple small meals is better than one big meal), and variety matters (though I'm not sure whether it's good or bad). The goodness or badness of many foods fails to generalize between people due to genes, gut bacteria, and other factors.

There are a few things about diet that I am confident of, though, and paying attention to them keeps me looking good in my cloak. Sufficient protein is important. Carbohydrates and sugars with a high glycemic index (GI measures absorption rate) are bad. Micronutrients are important, but easy. Sufficient fat is important, and specific fat types seem to matter, but I don't know how exactly. Greatly overeating on special occasions is bad, and probably worse than people think. Noticing how particular foods make you feel shortly afterwards is important.

I'm less sure of this one, but I suspect that varying the number of calories consumed per day by too much is probably bad, and skipping meals or finishing a meal unsatisfied is probably bad. My reasoning there is that in the evolutionary environment, those would be strongly correlated with food shortage and should therefore trigger energy conservation.

Since your last paragraph is the idea behind intermittent fasting diets (and one hypothesized mechanism) I wouldn't be too quick to label it as bad: it's been linked, if inconclusively, to improved key blood markers and increased lifespan. It may be bad for weight loss – I don't know enough about nutrition to say, really – perhaps that's what you had in mind.

The surprising thing about intermittent fasting is that it's the only drastic dietary change I've heard of that some people seem to enjoy.

[-][anonymous]7y 0

Because it solves the cognitive load problem. Should I eat my usual ham sandwich for breakfast but now these paleo diet gurus say bread is a no-no and should now probably eat eggs with broccoli which would make my mother think I am one of those health freaks now and yada yada yada... 1000 considerations, colliding thoughts. IF's answer is "well, how about eating NOTHING for breakfast?" and this is incredibly easier. Eating nothing does not feel like breaking a family or ethnic tradition, does not feel like doing weird things, does not feel like becoming another fad buffoon who eats granola or what else is the latest fad instead of honest old bacon and eggs, does not feel like your life is being ran by Men's Health or Cosmopolitan, does not require shopping in weird shops or reading labels on things. It feels very much like doing nothing. And doing nothing is easy.

Not doing something, and just putting up with pain is far easier than doing something. For example, when lying on a couch, it is easier to just put up with an uncomfortable position than to summon the strength to move.

I would have to say from my experience using them, and all that I've read about them, that intermittent fasting diets are marvelous.

In regards to the post above, when I IF I don't skip meals a vast majority of the time and I am never hungry/unsatisfied. Check out the introductory/about articles at leangains.com for some very great info on intermittent fasting protocols. I very much like his recommended 8 hour feeding protocol. Haven't heard complaints about it.

Also, from an evolutionary standpoint food would have been in constantly varying quantities, and if an 'energy conservation' state existed as described it would have been active almost all the time, but primitive hunter gatherers were almost always relatively lean and disease free. Supposedly at low levels of body fat (6-10%/can see your abs) your body still has MONTHS worth of ketones to use as energy in the form of your stored body fat.

Side thought: I've heard reference to studies that some amount of cellular repair gets activated only in times of fasting.

I've been following his Slow Carb Diet for four weeks and am very happy with the results. I haven't been weighing myself, measuring my waist, etc. but can just clearly see that I'm constantly losing fat. I'm pretty sure I've lost at least the twenty pounds of fat he promises. I also now have consistent energy levels and feel like my sleep is better (sleeping part could be placebo effect).

I've been trying the muscle building elements at the bootcamp, while eating lots of food, the required amounts of protein, and lots of milk. Over the course of a week (three workouts), I've gained 15-20 pounds and 0 inches on my waist (Body fat % have been sketchy).

What was your starting weight? This seems like it would be physically impossible for me to do (I would be barely able to consume enough food to gain 15 pounds in the first place, let alone convert it to muscle).

My starting weight was 183lbs at 5' 10". I went up to 202lbs (quite a bit was fat), I'm now down to 194 (the loss was fat/water).

Consuming a lot of food is hard. I started eating a lot on the second Wednesday in June. On Thursday I was sick as a dog, but kept eating. On Friday I was happy, energetic and eating everything in sight.

I likely had atypical results, but drinking a lot of milk, eating 200+grams of protein a day, eating 4000 kcalories and a good workout regimen should lead to putting on weight.

I'm about to read it. Based on my knowledge of the guy, I expect the importance and expected efficacy of his findings to be exaggerated. But I definitely consider him worth listening to. I don't think he's consciously trying to con anyone.

A general caution about concluding that a new diet regime works: no matter what the change, if it involves food you don't normally eat, it's common to eat less calories initially; then you learn to like eating whatever the new thing is (possibly because of flavor-calorie learning - not sure how well proven that hypothesis is - I first heard of it from Seth Roberts) and are back to normal eating. There may be other placebo related reasons that support a new diet working only initially.

Also, some diets change water retention (higher salt -> more water held in your body), or amount of undigested mass passing through the GI tract, maybe in a good way - but changes in water weight won't continue indefinitely.

When I started eating mostly vegetarian a few months ago (by accident, I just didn't eat meat for a couple of days) I noticed my energy level shooting up, and I had the good (energetic) kind of hunger as dinnertime approached.

When I briefly tried low-carb breakfast and lunch last week, I got the same effect.

Is there an established theory that could explain this? The only thing I can think of is a crackpot-sounding book I once read that said you shouldn't mix carbs with protein since they're hard to digest together.

Overall judgement: I value each chapter of T4BBC as approximately equal to a well researched lukeprog post on the given subject matter. Tim's chapters tend to be well researched (relative to the genre of science popularization) and based on a mix of academic research, practices of prominent trainers and some findings from (systematic) self experimenters.

Personal experiences: I followed the diet and experienced significant improvements to cognition and mood as well as the obvious changes to body composition. Because carbs really do suck in the doses typically consumed.

The exercise routine (for mass gain) worked well for me. By which I mean about the same results as my typical gym experiences had been but in less time.

I think comparing Feriss to lukeprog's posts does the latter a grave injustice.

In the matters I consider myself fairly knowledgeable, like spaced repetitions, the claims lukeprog makes are consistent with what I expect. In matters I consider myself fairly knowledgeable like polyphasic sleep, the claims Feriss makes are not consistent with what I expect, to the point where I wondered if Feriss had ever actually done it as he claims or whether he was just plagiarizing things others had written. (I'm not impressed with what he wrote about the Zeo either.) And Gerard above discusses the ECA stack.

I think comparing Feriss to lukeprog's posts does the latter a grave injustice.

We have a significant disagreement.

Both lukeprog and Tim Ferris make the occasional mistake when speaking about subjects about which I am familiar their positions seem to be approximately equal (and fairly high) value starting point.

(Neither are at the level where I would outright defer to their judgement.)

Also, one of them (I'll let folks guess who) has consistently shown inability to withstand cross-examination on the use of any of his references.

It would be nice to see a reference supporting this criticism of someone's use of references :).

Who was I criticizing? ;-)

Who was I criticizing? ;-)

Someone — I'll let folks guess who ;).

Also, one of them (I'll let folks guess who) has consistently shown inability to withstand cross-examination on the use of any of his references.

I don't believe you. I think you made that up. Weakening the claim to "anecdotally" would make it more credible and I would still want to see the context before I make evaluations of the appropriateness of the behavior given the circumstances.

nd Gerard above discusses the ECA stack.

This sentence in particular resolves to net evidence against your position, at least according to my publicly inferrable priors.

Gerard's contribution to the wikipedia ECA page consists of:

  • making a claim about the state of scientific theory that flat out contradicts what can be found with a single pubmed search and then
  • making an edit to the page that violates neutral point of view, the need for citation and basic grammar.

Note that taking ECA is basically a terrible idea and if Tim had actually recommended it in his book he would lose all sorts of credibility. But he didn't so he doesn't.

Also note: My objection to the wikipedia ECA page applies specifically to the state at the time when Gerard first appealed to the authority of his own wikipedia edit. Further edits by either him or another author may well have improved it since then.

I don't care about Gerard's contributions. Nor do I either know or care about the facts of the ECA stack. I read his post the first time it was mentioned on LW, and I've read it again - it still seems like a damning example of Ferriss's shoddy research practices. I'll quote it:

So I sought out his references PDF (he doesn't put them in the actual book for space reasons) and looked up what he had ... no dozens of studies, just a long quote from an old version of the Wikipedia article. Except that that text was removed from the article because it was completely uncited, overall or in detail, and was peppered with "citation needed" tags. It's only one example, but I think quoting text that was deleted from Wikipedia for having been uncited rubbish as your crowning moment of evidence suggests deep problems with the concept of evidence.)

You do not point to an unreferenced - not just an unreferenced part, but one with active warning tags indicating low quality! - as your citation for a claim like 'dozens of studies supported the effects'. You point to a study, or a review, or hell, a popular media article like from the New York Times or something claiming to summarize the research.

making a claim about the state of scientific theory that flat out contradicts what can be found with a single pubmed search

A Pubmed search he did not link to (he could link to Wikipedia but not Pubmed?), and which I have no reason to believe he ever conducted. In 4HW, Ferriss advocates multiple forms of lying and deception, and more generally, laziness; he deserves no benefit of the doubt. If it looks like he stopped at a Wikipedia paragraph - he probably did just that, in full accordance with his little 'Pareto' principles.

(The contrast with lukeprog is obvious.)

ubmed search he did not link to (he could link to Wikipedia but not Pubmed?), and which I have no reason to believe he ever conducted. In 4HW, Ferriss advocates multiple forms of lying and deception, and more generally, laziness; he deserves no benefit of the doubt. If it looks like he stopped at a Wikipedia paragraph - he probably did just that, in full accordance with his little 'Pareto' principles

These are not inferences I would make.

The meat + beans + greens diet works well for me if I skip the beans. None of the book is rigorous.

I found lots of things to experiment with, in it.

Very interesting. Beans have links to autoimmune problems and are probably a less than ideal food due to the lack of nutrients, presence of antinutrients and other weird stuff.

Also, a meat + greens diet is pretty much the recommended Paleo diet. You might be interested in Robb Wolf's 'The Paleo Solution.'

http://www.gnolls.org/ http://www.gnolls.org/2304/why-are-we-hungry-part-1-what-is-hunger-liking-vs-wanting-satiation-vs-satiety/ http://www.gnolls.org/2320/why-are-we-hungry-part-2-hunger-is-the-product-of-multiple-perceptions-and-motivations-sometimes-conflicting/ http://www.gnolls.org/2342/restrained-eating-willpower-and-why-diets-fail-why-are-we-hungry-part-3/

Conclusion: A Successful Diet Must Minimize The Role Of Willpower

The problem here should be obvious:

Restrained eating causes stress. Continually exercising your willpower in order to eat less food than you want—or different food than you want—is stressful.
Stress makes you eat more.

Full citations. The series is worth reading.

I believe I read all of the nutrition recommendations in the 4 hour body--as human nutrition is very interesting to me. I've done a lot of self-experimenting on the topic of nutrition. Timothy and I both share a deep interest wellness and looking like a BAMF, but I was still surprised that Timothy Ferris came to many of the same conclusions as I have.

Comments on some things I recall from his book:

The goal is to get lean (6-10% for males) and put on a few pounds of muscle.

The goal is NOT to get 1) super strong, 2) become a well-rounded athlete, or 3) health/longevity.

Ferris recommends ketogenic diets. Ketogenic (low carb) diets are marvelous for reducing body fat percentage. I have no reason to believe they wouldn't drastically reduce the body fat percentage of most sedentary individuals. It's also perfectly adequate for my strength training. (I am not able to do any conditioning on a ketogenic diet.) Without quoting specifics, this approach definitely works for me.

I often hear quoted 35-70g of carbs per day. I usually stay in this range and I have stayed lean (4 years of 6-10% body fat). And no, I wasn't always lean. I was quite fat before. It's often quoted by bodybuilders that 'abs are built in the kitchen'. Everything I trust that I have read supports this assertion. Everyone has abs, you just need low levels of body fat percentage to see them--and you lose most of your body fat by changing your diet.

Most of our badass, tarzan-looking ancestors would have stayed in a ketogenic state. For top notch information about the human diet read the Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. The Paleo Diet's hypothesis is 'what did our ancestors thrive on and will it work for us?' (Answer seems to be yes.) There seems to be a ton of scientific support for the recommendations in the book. He has something like 50 pages of references to scientific literature.

The paleo diet is for people concerned with health and longevity--not really a goal of Timothy's book--as well as getting lean.

I didn't read much from the book on exercise. I have no reason to believe the "4 hour body" protocols wouldn't work for their intended purpose, which seems to be: helping high body fat %, sedentary individuals get to relatively lean levels of body fat and put on a few pounds of muscle.

I did not like the exercise goals of the 4 hour body. It's goals were too different from my own, so the program would not have worked for me. (My goals are to be big and strong). Timothy tries to stick to easily accessible, low-cost or equipment-less exercises. I already have intermediate levels of strength and I know it's not possible to maintain that with pushups and sit ups. I would need to incorporate gymnastics bar/ring work (not touched in the book) to develop an upper body and my lower body would be neglected as there's no way to emulate a 350lb squat without a machine or squat rack. THAT BEING SAID: If I'm strict, I work out 45 min or less 3x per week (barbell training) --thought I often slack off and skip entire weeks or only work out 2x per week and I can maintain or increase my levels of strength. So, I have a 6-9 hour body as opposed to a 4 hour body. (not counting travel time)

For muscle building/strength training: I would recommend the 'big 4 lifts'. Read 'Starting Strength' by Mark Rippetoe. Then read '5/3/1' a program by Jim Wendler.

For nutrition, modifying body fat %, health and longevity, read: 'The Paleo Solution' by Robb Wolf then read years worth of references.

You are the second person to recommend starting strength to me. I've already been doing strength training for 2 years, but I'm wondering it it's worthwhile to go back to the start (if the guy's claims are realistic then I would be overtaking my current strength level in a few months). Do you have any thoughts on this? (I realize I'm being kind of vague, if you want me to be more specific about my situation I can be.)

Starting Strength is an amazing book for reference. I think the main take away from the book is Rippetoe's analysis of proper lifting technique--although I believe his comments on progression and exercise programming are VERY insightful. The entire book is amazing.

He talks about proper hand placement on the bar, body position, and mentions various methods to observe yourself and know if you're doing the lifts correctly or not. He also mentions useful and useless equipment; as well as useful and useless lifts. This is something a beginner needs, but anyone can benefit from.

I'm not sure what 'the guy's' claims are or who 'the guy' is. I'll need more info before I can comment on that. However, I have heard said before that 'listening to Rippetoe explain a lift will increase it at least 5-10 pounds.' He goes to great detail explaining why, exactly, you should perform a lift a certain way, down to very miniscule details that I originally thought were irrelevant. That being said, I'm no expert in physics or biomechanics, but I'm confident Rippetoe knows a lot more about these subjects than I. I have referenced Starting Strength before workouts when I was uncertain if I would be able to lift my goal weight. It's important for me to have a concise, reliable source to make reference to.

This might not be important at all, but Jim Wendler recommends the book either in his 5/3/1 manual or on his website. He's one of the testimonials on the back cover, saying 'it's the best book for weight training. Anyone serious about learning or coaching the basic lifts should get it.'

Er by 'the guy' I was referring to Mark Rippetoe, although I realized that I misinterpreted what he said.

For young males that weigh between 150-200 lbs., deadlifts can move up 15-20 lbs. per workout, squats 10-15 lbs., with continued steady progress for 3-4 weeks before slowing down to half that rate. Bench presses, presses, and cleans can move up 5-10 lbs. per workout, with progress on these exercises slowing down to 2.5-5 lbs. per workout after only 2-3 weeks. Young women make progress on the squat and the deadlift at about the same rate, adjusted for bodyweight, but much slower on the press, the bench press, cleans, and assistance exercises. – Mark Rippetoe, Practical Programming, Pg. 122

I guess I missed the part about 2-3 weeks. It seemed like he was roughly claiming that you would increase your benching weight by e.g. 7.5 pounds a week (for a sustained period of time), which seems like a ridiculous speed to make gains at.

I think in this context he's talking about the 'beginner response' where strength gains are largely due to increased neuromuscular efficiency in UNTRAINED athletes.

I believe he says, without reading my own copy to make sure:
1) 5-10 lbs per 3-4 weeks in the presses is the normal rate of progression for novices for the first several months of training--until they have an intermediate level of strength.

2) weights will then increase in smaller increments, such as 1lb

3) then more complex programming is used

If you've been training for two years you have probably already used up your super-fast awesome beginner strength gains.

I see. That is unfortunate I suppose, but makes more sense. So I guess the question for me is (I think?) whether I should drop in weight for a while to really focus on proper lifting form. Reading through his descriptions, I seem to already have happened on close to correct form just through experimentation, but I am missing a few things like the glute squeeze during bench press. I think I'll probably spend a month or so nailing down the right form for everything and then read through Mark's book to figure out what my long-term program should look like.

I have not read the book.

For strength, the more similar the bodybuilding advice is to "do a moderate amount of very difficult compound exercises about once a week, more difficult every session," the more I agree with it.

For general health, I don't think four hours of aerobic exercise per week is enough at all. I try to get more than that. Is it really possible to survive half marathons and such on four hours of training per week? If there is a way to munchkinize running as there is for bodybuilding, I don't know it. The best things I know of are interval training and stair running.

Caveat: I didn't read the book and I'm not an expert. For me it doesn't make any sense. 4 hours a week is simply not enough for your body. According to some study even 30 min. a day is not enough. Just sitting 8+ hours a day has deleterious effects that exercise cannot make up for:


EDIT: If you want to live healthy it's really about changing the whole lifestyle, including dieting and the way you work(standing desk!). Just 4 hours a week won't cut it.

Funny, this article doesn't appear under the "new" articles list of LW, I just found it by coincidence when looking under Eliezers contributions. Is this a bug?

guys, i would encourage you to start somewhere! it doesnt matter if its with 4hb or something else...

you need to play with nutrition and exercise regimes. more importantly, retain self-control with respect to this endeavor and make it a part of daily life. as with everything, awareness increases as you deliberately practice.

join (or lurk in) other communities and access the enormous empirical data therein (bodybuilding.com, somethingawful's watch and woot forum).

feel free to get in touch if i can be of any help or guidance :)

I don't lurk there but my wife spends lots of time at BB. Almost everyone at bb.com think 4HB is a joke. I also agree with the playing with things but there needs to be boundaries and imho 4HB falls outside of what i would consider scientifically reasonable.