Customer Reviews: 4-Hour Body An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman
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on February 22, 2011
Most of the 5-star reviews for 4HB came up on the first day. Given that Tim Ferriss has previously endorsed outsourcing in his Four Hour Workweek, I wonder how many of those 5-star reviews were from his personal assistants abroad.

Let me start with my bona fides: I am a currently practicing and licensed physician in the state of California. I graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine. I am a black belt and a lifelong athlete, and I have been weight training for over 20 years-- and unlike Mr. Ferriss, without injuring myself in any way, ever. I have no financial interest in his book or any other product discussed here.

Regarding the depth of my review of The 4-Hour Body, I spent over [...] on the equipment, supplements, and ultrasound machine recommended in the book. I bought the BodyMetrix Professional ultrasound and software he recommends by Intelametrix ([...] after discount for mentioning 4HB book), and completed the 1-on-1 online training despite the fact I am previously certified in performing ultrasound. I engaged my friends and colleagues in a "Fat off" competition with obsessive and objective weight and body fat measurements and followed the routine for 5 weeks as perfectly as I was able. I also experimented (like Mr. Ferriss) using continuous glucose measurement (CGM) to assess minute-to-minute glucose responses to food and exercise using both the DexCom system he recommends as well as the MiniMed Guardian system. I plan to upload a photo of the nutritional supplements I bought, which nearly cover my kitchen table. I downloaded apps to my phone for recording each workout obsessively, and more importantly to help with the very slow rep time he recommends.

My basic finding is that after trying the diet, supplements, exercise routines and lifestyle changes recommended in the 4-Hour Body that I found no change, whatsoever, in body weight or competition. Nor did any of my other friends trying the book.

Why doesn't the 4HB work?

(1) It takes more than 4 hours a month in the gym to have a great body. I'm sorry, it just does. Mr. Ferriss recommends performing 2-3 SETS, for a total of less than 30 reps, per WEEK, to get a great body. Ask any athlete, bodybuilder, trainer... not enough. Not even close. It's hogwash. I actually could feel my body dwindling despite eating as much protein as I could stomach.

(2) Almost all the supplements recommended in 4HB have never been scientifically proven to do what Mr. Ferriss claims they do. Take cissus quadrangularis (page 110), costs about $30 for 120 capsules. He discusses that he took CQ in China while eating a high volume rice diet with sweets and states "CQ preserved my abs". Really? If that's the level of evidence that you're comfortable with, great. But with simultaneous exercise, multiple other ongoing supplements, lifestyle changes, etc., who can tell whether it was CQ or just dietary changes from his being in rural China?

(3) The diet is just a mishmash of other diet routines, basically Atkins plus paleo with a dash of South Beach Diet. There are important flaws in the diet that should be pointed out. He recommends carbohydrates from beans instead of "white carbohydrates", hence the "slow-carb" diet. This relies on a bunch of old data regarding glycemic index. The reality about carbohydrate digestion is very different. Carbohydrate digestion is so important that it begins IN THE MOUTH with salivary amylase. Whether you eat a slice of Wonder Bread or a handful of garbanzo beans, the breakdown of these sugars into the body's currency of glucose is extremely rapid and effective regardless of which form you ingest it in. I have tried this myself using continuous glucose monitoring as recommended in the book. The only way I have found to blunt the sugar rise is simultaneous ingestion of a good quantity of fat. Also, can a diet really be paleo without milk or dairy? And did early Homo sapiens farm for beans and lentils?

(4) The blood sugar response data in the book is flawed by a misunderstanding of how continuous blood glucose monitoring (CGM) works. He notes "it turned out foods and liquids took much, much longer to get to my bloodstream than one would expect." But the DexCom SEVEN implant he was using has a 20-30 minute delay between the blood sugar reading you get on a finger stick, and the blood sugar reading on the machine sensor. That is, there is a BUILT IN DELAY (check some online diabetic forums for more info on this) because capillary blood from fingersticks shows changes much faster and more accurately than the interstitial fluid surrounding the implant. So, as noted in (3), sugar responses are actually very fast. Drink that protein shake right before or after the workout, not 1 hour prior like he says.

(5) Measuring body fat before and after interventions is much less easy than implied in the book. Body scans using DEXA are really great, but it's hard to convince all your friends to do it with you given inconvenience and expense. I have used the ultrasound unit he recommends and even with training it is very difficult for me to get reliable, repeatable data. This is true even when I have switched it to expert "M" mode and done my own curve fitting of the actual ultrasound output. It is also very dependent on the body type you select for yourself when you calibrate the machine.

(6) The sex improvement section seems out of place in this book, and is not terribly original to boot.

Here's what you can learn from 4HB without buying the book:
---Measure your body fat (!) before and after any change you make in your diet.
---If a book makes unrealistic claims, don't believe it.
---Have your friends join you in challenges and short contests.
---Exercise consistently over years...and be more careful with your body than Mr. Ferriss is.
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on December 14, 2010
Pro: It has a lot of great information for people who are new to dieting and exercise.
Easy to read. The split into different chapters you can read without having to read the whole book was a smart choice.
Simple programs.

Con: All the information isn't exactly new or just in this book. For example, the diet is Paleo, which is fine, but not what I expected from the ads. I really hoped for something new here, and what is new sounds dubious at best.
Some of the claims in the books description are a little exaggerated.
The work out is not the best. It's great if you are new to working out, but it's not enough for someone who is already athletic and looking to improve. If you want to be the best athlete you can, this will take you far but it will not get you there.
Reversing permanent injuries can be expensive.

I have a problem with his scientific method. He did a lot of these experiments only on himself, and one after another in a short period of time. His results might be skewed. I'm currently applying a few of his suggestions and have been for 2 weeks. I will update this review in the future if there is any radicle change, but as of now nothing has really happened.

I also do not like that this book has gotten so many perfect reviews so quickly, and that critical reviews are being removed.

All in all, the book is grand if you need to be introduced to the word of nutrition and exercise. But if you have read widely on the subjects already and looking for something different and radically new, this book doesn't really deliver.
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on December 14, 2010
I enjoyed the book. I'm not going to claim that the book is perfect or earth-shattering or anything like that. I did find it entertaining to read all the stuff Tim Ferriss put himself through. I've also benefited from some of his recommendations (though not all). Here's what's in the book so you can make your own decision. I've read all 571 pages and tried most of the strategies (I had my copy for a while because I got my hands on an advanced copy).

Ferriss spent more than a decade researching, monitoring, and noting the progress of his own mind and body. He served as his own laboratory genea pig and also played the role of a doctor, physical therapist, and coach to prepare for this book. Like a school boy, Ferris teaches you how to get your classwork done fast so you can go out and play. He asks you to be skeptical of the book and try only that which you think will help you.

Here's what's in it:

Chapter 1: Fundamentals--First And Foremost

* Ferriss describes the "Mininum Effective Dose" (doing the bare minimum to gain the most desired outcome).

Chapter 2: Ground Zero--Getting Started and Swaraj

* Uses Mahatma Gandhi reference to make the case that only we can govern our body and destiny by what we purposely choose to do.

Chapter 3: Subtracting Fat

Five rules for cutting body fat:
1. Avoid "white" carbohydrates
2. Eat the same few meals over and over again
3. Don't drink calories
4. Don't eat fruit
5. Take one day off per week

* The Lost Art of Bingeing: Specific steps to minimize fat gain while splurging

Chapter 4: Adding Muscle

* Building the Perfect Posterior
* Ferriss turns the table for readers who wish to gain weight by offering strategies on how to gain 34 pounds in 28 days with exercises like the Occam's Protocoli, the Bike-Shed Effect, and GOMAD (Gallon of Milk a Day).

Chapter 5: Improving Sex

* Ferriss tells a story about a promise he made to a female yoga instructor who have never experienced an orgasm in her life that he "would fix her inability to orgasm"
* the women has to bring herself "there."
* men need to change the angle and pressure during penetration.

* The 15-min Female Orgasm
1. Explain to partner that you will touch her
2. Get into position
3. Find the Upper-Quadrant Point of the Clitoris, and Stroke Lightly--for 15 minutes.

Chapter 6: Perfecting Sleep

How to Fall Asleep Faster:
* Focus on getting to sleep
* 67ºF to 70ºF is the best room temperature to fall asleep
* Eat a large fat-and protein-dominated meal 3 hours before bedtime
* Use low light in the bedroom
* Take a cold bath an hour before bed
* Use a humidifier to generate cool mist
* Try to sleep in the half-military crawl position

How to Sleep Less and Feel Great
* Learn how to manipulate the sleep cycle to stay in REM sleep longer
* Take frequent 20-min naps throughout the day

Chapter 7: Reversing Injuries

* The $10,000 Fix: Ferriss cured his "permanent" injuries by receiving a concoction of chemicals (i.e. Platelet-rich plasma, Stem cell factor, Bone morphogenic proteint-7, Insulin-like growth factor 1) via injection.

The Cheaper Fix in Stages:
* Stage 1: Movement
* Stage 2: Manipulaiton
* Stage 3: Medication
* Stage 4: Surgery

Chapter 8: Running Faster and Farther

* Jumping Higher: Joe DeFranco, a renowned trainer of the NFL Scouting Combine, worked with Ferriss on his shoulder drive, arm position before the jump, squat stance and hip flexors that allowed Ferriss to jump vertically three inches higher in 48 hours.
* Running Faster: Joe DeFranco also coached Ferriss on how to run the 40-yard dash faster by correcting Ferriss's line-and-arm position at the start line. Ferriss was advised to keep his head down, his knee head of his toes, chin tucked and upper body head of lower body, and to take few steps. Ferriss improved his 40-yard dash by .33 seconds in 48 hours.
* Running Further: Ferriss trains by running 400-meter repeatedly (over and over again) while monitoring quantity of repeats, maximum effort percentage, and rest time. Ken Mierke, a world-champion triathlete helped Ferriss with his stride rate, lean position, and arm movement. With preparation, biomechanics, and training, Ferriss was able to increase his running distance of 5K to 50K in 12 weeks.

Chapter 9: Getting Stronger
The gems in this chapter to become stronger as experimented by Ferriss include:
* Dynamic stretching
* Bench press, push-ups, deadlift to knees
* Static Stretching
* Keep "time under tension" while lifting under 10 seconds to avoid muscle burn.
* "Lift heavy but not hard"
* Keep training times (day or night) consistent.

Chapter 10: From Swimming to Swinging
* Ferriss learned how to swim effortlessly within 10 days
* How to swing a bat like Babe Ruth
* How to hold breath longer Houdini, and David Blaine

Chapter 11: On Longer and Better Life
* Take 5-10 grams of Creatine Monohydrate per day
* Fasting and Protein Cycling
* Donate blood

My biggest criticism is the book didn't do enough with the mind part. For that, you might want to read Emotional Intelligence 2.0. That book did a great deal for my mind.
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on October 10, 2011
I really felt compelled to write a review because, among the 1 star reviews I feel like not many people actually tried the diet. I tried this for a month. Really, against my better judgement but, I like other people here saw him on Dr. Oz and thought I would give it a try.Yes, his personality (which comes out over the course of the book) is quite repellant and he does border on douche material, but I chose to ignore that and proceed anyway. First of all the book is horribly disorganized and not very user friendly. There aren't any summaries at the end of chapters. You really have to take notes and organize a plan yourself. Fine, I did that but, it is easy to leave something out and after the first week I realized I wasn't doing it completely right.

Anyway I got on track and I have to say that while the diet will make you lose weight, during the week. The binge made me gain it all back. During my binge day I did all the excersises and drank coffee, yerba mate and kombucha. grapefruit juice (phewww!) as perscribed. But, every week I would gain back the 4 lbs. I lost during the week (in one day!). Trust me the binge day is no treat because, it is so time consuming. I didn't have time do anything, because of all the things you have drink, the exercises, the supplements and the eating every 3-4 hours. I don't know why I kept with it as long as I did. I kept thinking that maybe it would change and that all those 5 star reviewers had success. Worse yet the diet makes you INCREDIBLY constipated! And I have never had a problem in that department. At one point during the diet I went an entire week without going. This diet was a horrible waste of time. And worst of all I keep thinking about all those cold showers/ice baths I had to suffer through. It really pisses me off! I really hope people read the one star reviews and realize that those 5 star reviews have got to be completely phony!
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on December 27, 2010
Beware! I gave this book a 1 star review. My review was attacked immediately by several people who seemed at first to be true fans of the book. After investigation I found that several of them had profiles with ONLY 5 star reviews of this book, along with negative attacks on anyone who wrote a 1 star review. I found it disturbing, and I'm questioning if they are real people or fake avatars.

My review was removed today, it seems. Beware the reviews! It seems that 1 star reviews are attacked and removed, while a mysterious 100+ 5 star reviews all popped on the site on the same day.

If you purchase this book as a 'read', well then no problem. If you have ANY illusions that this book is a "GUIDE" as it states in the title, and you plan on using it to lose weight, gain muscle, or have 'incredible sex' there are many different books on the market better suited. This book is one man's testimonial to the extreme abuse he put himself through. Ferriss' loopholes (such as the REGAIN of muscle, touted as GAIN) are misleading and dangerous for the average lay person.

Buyer beware!
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on July 21, 2013
At 425 pounds, I realized I had to do something drastic. A good friend of mine knew someone on the "slow-carb" diet that is outlined in this book, and he had lost 100 pounds in a year. I bought the book, thought about it a lot, wondered if I could do this long-term...and decided I could. Here I am, less than 1.5 years later, and I've lost almost 150 pounds. There's no special food to buy, no mandatory supplements, no added costs other than the book. There are tons of online resources to augment what's outlined in the chapters. I can't even begin to tell you how much this has changed and continues to change my life. I'm so greatful to Tim Ferriss and Amazon for providing this book.

UPDATE: After 2.5 years, I lost 250 pounds. While no plan/lifestyle change is right for everyone, this worked very well for me.
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on December 17, 2010
Tim Ferris starts his book: "Please don't be stupid and kill yourself. It would make both of us unhappy. Consult a doctor before doing anything in this book."
The first rule of medicine is do no harm. I'm an M.D. Take him at his word.
In his chapter on "reversing permanent injuries," Tim explains how he went to a doctor in Arizona who injected him with "everything but the kitchen sink." The final cocktail included platelet-rich plasma, stem cell factor, bone morphogenic protein 7, and insulin growth factor 1. The result was emergency surgery at UCSF following a staph infection in his elbow. He still thinks the medication was right, but "I didn't find the right person to administer it."
Does he have any idea what all that stuff could do to his immune system?
The reason for his attempt at regenerative medicine - many injuries. His "pushing the envelope" had produced 20 fractures, 20 dislocations, two joint surgeries and innumerable tears and sprains. His orthopedist told him (p.297) that he was "a 30 year old in a 60 year old body."
Before you buy his book, consider Tim's own history.
There is excellent advice here on motivation, an excellent chapter by Ben Goldacre on what really happens in drug research, many provocative ideas. But a diet suggesting mandatory bingeing? Sleeping effectively two hours a day? For those attracted by his video which promises "you can do the impossible," I would ask this - consider what the impossible might do to you.
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on January 24, 2011
There is another review in here that says it better than I do, but it is weirdly obvious when you read through the book that he contradicts himself. One times it's this, another time it's that. He says, "This is the only exercise you need!" and then later gives a full workout plan with more exercises. He references so many people who do so many things that it's certain that some of their methods would overlap and/or contradict. Dangerous stuff.

It's also kind of funny how pleased with himself he is throughout the book. Yes Tim, we understand that you know best, that there is a ton of info out there that you can prove wrong. I also know from personal experience that a person can gain a ton of muscle mass in a short time, just by training hard and smart. But he's also a tiny little guy who has some interesting mental issues, and no matter how much he tries to learn to jump, he's not that impressive. The guys he CONSTANTLY references spend a big part of their lives in gyms and in training, too, which goes against his entire philosophy.

Do we really need to hear about Tim's dates? C'mon! For a guy who has written two books about how awesome he is, I really don't want to read about how women like him.

He states in his other book that he advises Olympians. So why does he always need help from professional coaches? That's curious. Oh wait, because he is a con man.

He also overlooks one major, major thing. How about finding exercise that you like to do? Something that makes you feel good, and allows you to define fitness as you see fit? Instead of spending a short time in the gym to bulk up your little frame, how about trying things like body-weight training, yoga, and pilates to stay happy and fit? I like all those things and look forward to doing them. Exercise can be as much about personal goals and mental contentment than gaining muscles in a short time. He misses the point.

One last thing. He made an unregulated supplement called BrainQuicket (worst name ever) and sold it. For a guy who sold an unregulated upper and then "stretches" the truth about a lot of things, I'll hold off taking advice about my own physical health. His major themes - MORE, NOW, FAST! - can have harmful long-term consequences.
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on January 2, 2011

Last summer I lost 18 pounds, getting down to 6% body fat. This enabled me to finish 29th in the Pikes Peak Ascent, which climbs nearly 8000 feet in 13.5 miles and was the 7th Annual World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) Long Distance Challenge. I received the award for 1st place in the 45-49 age group.

Ferriss advocates keeping your blood sugar even, i.e., avoiding spikes and drops by eating low on the glycemic index. I've done this for nearly 25 years and I believe it's the most important dietary advice. Ferriss should have mentioned that Barry Sears' Zone Diet books go into more detail on low-glycemic eating; there are more health benefits besides losing weight. Sears' website also sells products that help with this diet, e.g., high-protein, low-glycemic index pasta. Ferriss recommends lemon juice or cinnamon to lower the glycemic index of foods, something I'd never heard of. He could have mentioned that Celestial Seasonings makes a cinnamon tea, called GingerBread Spice, that you can drink with a meal instead of putting cinnamon in foods.

Even though I've eaten low-glycemic foods for nearly 25 years my weight had crept up a little each year. Last summer I tightened up my diet but lost only 3 pounds in 7 weeks. I then discovered a technique that Ferriss doesn't mention: "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, and supper like a pauper." A thin French friend told me this is how Europeans stay thin. I ate big breakfasts with protein (fish, lean meat, eggs, etc.), protein shakes with spirulina around noon, big lunches around 3pm, and then just a green salad or fruit salad in the evening, enough to not go to bed hungry. I then lost 15 pounds in 12 weeks.

Ferriss has good advice for eating low on the glycemic index: not eating white sugar, white flour, and other refined carbohydrates; and not drinking calories, e.g., fruit juice packs a lot of sugar. He also says to eat the same few meals over and over. This makes staying on your diet easy.

Ferriss recommends not eating fruit, because fructose converts to glycerol phosphate that facilitates fat storage. I'm skeptical of this, because fruits are more than just fructose, e.g., they have fiber. Just because a reaction occurs in vitro (in a test tube) doesn't mean the same thing will happen in vivo (in a living person). Given his huge fan base maybe he could ask a few hundred of his blog readers to divide into two groups, one of which eats fruit and the other doesn't, and see who loses more weight. I'll bet the non-fruit eaters will substitute another sweet that is more fattening and lose less weight.

Ferriss recommends taking one day off a week from your diet and eating anything (and everything) you want. He says that this "binge" day will support weight loss by keeping your metabolism high. Again, I'm skeptical and I'd like to see a clinical trial. However, last summer I did a "binge day" every week without realizing it. I had a race every week and after each race ate whatever I wanted the rest of the day.

Ferriss recommends not eating dairy, as it has a high insulinemic response despite its low glycemic index.

When Ferriss advocated a high-protein diet, recommending that I eat almost 200 grams of protein per day, my first reaction was "What about the China Study?" This book, by Colin and Thomas Campbell, correlated animal-based diets with cancer, and recommended eating a plant-based (vegan) diet. Ferriss's website has a link to Christopher Masterjohn's critique of "The China Study." Colin Campbell's study with rats fed aflatoxin (one of the most potent carcinogens) found that a diet with 20% casein (one of the proteins in milk) led to every rat developing cancer, when none of the rats whose diet was 5% casein developed cancer. Apparently casein signals your cells to grow, which is good if you're a baby but not good if you have cancer. Masterjohn then shows how the Campbells extrapolated this one study to say that all milk proteins facilitate cancer growth, when whey (another milk protein) doesn't facilitate cancer growth, and to say that all animal protein facilitates cancer growth (also not true).

Ferris says that canned and frozen foods are just as good as fresh. I agree with him regarding canned beans, but I believe that fresh fruits and vegetables are necessary for my health. Ferriss correctly points out that my grandmother, born in Poland in 1904, ate one orange each year, on Christmas. But my grandmother was tiny compared my cousins and myself. One of the clerks at the natural foods supermarket near my house is 25 and was diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. He switched to a raw foods diet and all of his health problems disappeared. He told me that previously he ate a "standard American diet," i.e., packaged processed foods. I've always eaten big salads, both green salads and fruit salads. If I don't eat raw foods, e.g., when traveling, after a couple days I crave raw foods. I don't know whether raw foods diets work due to something in raw foods, e.g., enzymes that are destroyed by heat, or if these diets work because of what's not in them, e.g., packaged processed foods. Ferriss recommends eating slowly, and raw foods take time to eat. When I make a big salad for breakfast with greens, beans, and smoked salmon it takes me all morning to finish it.

Ferriss doesn't mention spirulina. I put two tablespoons in my mid-day protein shake. Spirulina is arguably the perfect food, if you can handle the swamp taste. It's high in protein, with balanced amino acids; includes essential fatty acids; vitamins, especially the B vitamins lacking in vegetarian diets; minerals; and photosynthetic pigments, i.e., it's really green.

Ferriss suggests cold exposure (cold showers or ice baths) to lose weight, gain muscle, treat insomnia, boost immunity, treat depression, and increase testosterone and sperm count. Dathan Ritzenhein used a cryosuana, exposed to -275 degree nitrogen vapors for 2.5 minutes, the day before the New York Marathon, where he finished 8th in 2:12. At first I was skeptical of Ferris's claim that cold exposure aids weight loss because I keep the house cold all winter and exercise outside 2+ hours a day, often in sub-zero temperatures, and I gain weight every winter. Then I realized that Ferriss is right. Cold exposure makes me crave peanut butter sandwiches and other high fat, calorie-dense foods. In the summer I resist cravings relatively easily but in the winter the cravings are more powerful. I'm sure that if I resisted cravings brought on by cold exposure I'd lose weight fast.

I like this book because it's a collection of new ideas that Ferriss personally tried. 25 years ago I felt like Diogenes with his lamp, except instead of looking for an honest man I was looking for new ideas. In the 1980s new ideas were few and far between. Now with the Internet I feel blessed to live in an age in which new ideas circulate rapidly. Typically each new idea has a single advocate so it's hard to compare whether this idea is better than that idea, unless you take the time (and expense) to try several ideas. Ferriss did just that and is reporting his experiences. In contrast, Andrew Weil writes about the same materials but with an affect of authority, as he's a doctor and reads scientific studies. Ferriss's affect is "I'm a regular guy just like you, I'm not an expert, but I'm intelligent and I can read scientific studies too, and here's what happened when I tried this..." Another reviewer said that Ferriss's book is his new "bible." I don't agree with that. If you want a "bible," read Andrew Weil. If you want interesting ideas and personal experiences, read Ferriss.


I'm not interested in body building so I skimmed this section. However, this section made me realize how different bodybuilders are from outdoor athletes. Or at least how different Ferriss and I are. Later he talks about learning to run and to swim, i.e., these are new skills for him. He doesn't mention cycling or playing team sports. Before reading this section I hadn't realized how many drugs bodybuilders take! (Ferriss suggests googling "Andreas Munzer autopsy".)

Ferriss doesn't include a chapter about integrating exercise into your daily life. E.g., riding a bike to work instead of driving, or joining a mixed-gender softball team to meet singles. I don't like going to gyms, I only exercise when it's fun or there's a purpose.


This section starts with how non-orgasmic women can learn to masturbate, e.g., by reading Betty Dodson's book. I watched Dodson's video about ten years ago and one item remains with me clearly: Dodson tells women to schedule three to four hours when they want to masturbate!

Ferriss shows some improved positions for couples. My wife and I tried these and she was unimpressed (but then she's never had problems with orgasms).

The next chapter explains how Ferriss increased his testosterone 2.5 times: vitamins, ice baths, and cholesterol (egg yolks and steaks). I nearly tripled my testosterone (from barely over 300 to just under 900) by taking a contact improv dance class. Three times a week a dozen sweaty young women and I rolled our bodies over and under each other. (Contact improv is like gymnastics except you use your partner instead of vaults and balance beams.) The pheromones in young women's sweat increases men's testosterone. Someday someone will make a fortune collecting young women's sweat and selling it to middle-aged men. There were also young men in the class, whose sweat literally made me weak and nauseous until I showered. Ferriss doesn't say that lifting weights in gyms surrounded by sweaty young men might lower your testosterone.

Ferriss doesn't discuss why you might not want to increase your testosterone. Testosterone causes baldness, and your hair doesn't grow back if you later lower your testosterone. Testosterone doesn't make you faster: gelding race horses are just as fast as stallions. Ferriss says that when his testosterone was high he literally turned women's heads in restaurants. My experience in the dance class was that the young women literally jumped in the laps of the gay men at the start of class. If they couldn't partner with a gay man then they partnered with women. Every class I'd look around when the instructor said to find a partner, and the only available partners were the other two straight men. We'd do the first exercise together half-heartedly and then ask women to partner with us. Testosterone may have made the women avoid us.

Ferriss doesn't mention that women might want to increase their testosterone. I've read that testosterone is the most effective anti-depressant for women. It also increases their libido. Listen to This American Life's podcast #220: a transgender female-to-male talks about what it was like to receive testosterone injections; and a man who had a medical condition that eliminated testosterone in his body, with the result that he achieved a Buddha-like state of desiring nothing. I performed these two characters in a play, my favorite line was from the transgender man: "Testosterone makes life challenging, but it makes you love the challenges."

The next chapter is about declining sperm count. Ferriss suggests getting your sperm frozen before you're 35, which I did. His other advice is to not carry your cellphone in your pocket (I don't). He barely mentions other ideas such as not drinking out of plastic bottles, avoiding soy foods, and wearing loose boxer shorts instead of tighty whities.


The next section is about insomnia. He suggests all sorts of gadgets, cold baths, foods, etc. but doesn't suggest cutting out caffeine. Getting back to cold exposure, I support Ferriss's claim that cold exposure aids sleep. In the upper Midwest people say "good sleeping weather" to describe cold nights. I sleep well when I let the house drop below 50 degrees and pile blankets on my bed.

Next is a section on reversing "permanent" injuries. My massage therapist (whose wife is a physical therapist) was impressed with this section, esp. the Egoscue recommendation.

Next is a section on medical tourism (saving money by going to foreign countries for medical treatment).

Next, Ferriss recommends preventing injuries by getting a Functional Movement Screen (FMS) test. FMS measures left-right differences in strength and balance. I'm putting this on my to-do list.


I'm 48 and this year ran a 5:08 mile, an 18:09 5K, and a 37:48 10K. I qualified for All-American in a 3000-meter race and I win an age group award in most races. I only run about 3 hours a week: two 45-minute track workouts plus a 1.5-hour club run. An exercise physiologist was amazed that I have a VO2-max of 59 and run this fast on 3 hours a week. Then I said that I walk my dog 2 hours a day, plus we hike twice a week, mixing speedwalking, easy jogging, and stopping to pee every 30 feet. The exercise physiologist said that I have the perfect training plan: a base of daily easy exercise with a few short but intense workouts.

Ferriss recommends running with the Pose technique. I've done this for five years and this has been the best thing I've ever done to improve my running, both for increasing speed and minimizing injuries. Ferriss doesn't mention that the same technique has other names, including Chi Running and Evolution Running.

Ferriss' description of the Pose technique is excellent but he only has photos of himself (before and after). His "before" photos are clearly wrong but his "after" photos aren't much better, likely because he just doesn't run fast. (His 24-minute 5K is what we politely call "mid-pack".) He should have included photos of faster runners who do the Pose Technique better.

Ferriss' 12-week workout schedule is good. The main workout is 800-meter repeats, beginning with two the first week and moving up to six in later weeks. Ferriss doesn't explain why this workout is so important. Running workouts (to oversimplify) either train leg speed or cardiovascular (heart and lungs). 800 meters is three minutes for Ferriss. If you run intervals longer than 3 minutes you don't maximize leg speed. If you run less than 3 minutes you don't maximize heart rate. 3-minute repeats are two workouts in one, training both leg speed and cardiovascular. Ferriss should have explained that you run three minutes, not 800 meters, i.e., a slower runner could run 600 meters, when I run 900 meters and a pro might knock off 1200's. Do two of these the first week and gradually build up to five, or six if you're an animal like Ferriss. All should be equal distance, which means that your first interval feels easy and the last interval is maximum effort.

Ferriss' schedule also includes 100-meter and 200-meter leg speed workouts. This is excellent advice for slow runners trying to get faster. Too many joggers run for miles at a slow pace and never get faster. He also did longer 5K and 10K runs to build endurance, and did some hill repeats to build the strength necessary for trail running. He doesn't mention that the 100-meter repeats should be barefoot on grass, to teach you good form.

Ferriss recommends Inov-8 running shoes. I use Nike Frees. He rightly denigrates Newtons and warns against running barefoot (e.g., Vibram Five Fingers), except for strides on grass.

Fueling during long races is an important subject that Ferriss doesn't adequately cover. But I'll give you a tip that'll make your next race faster. Clear your gastrointestinal tract by not eating solid food for at least 12 hours before the race (i.e., drink only juice and energy drinks). Digestion demands up to 40% of your blood so not having anything in your gut at the start line will provide more blood to your muscles.


Here's where Ferriss presents weightlifting for runners, based on Barry Ross (coach of Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix). I don't do weightlifting so these ideas were all new to me.

Ferriss gives two reasons why runners should do strength training (weightlifting). First, distance runners have weak sodium-potassium pumps. The sodium-potassium pump is what enables muscles to return to relaxation after contracting. The discoverer of the sodium-potassium pump won the Nobel Prize. Strength training improves the sodium-potassium pump.

Second, greater ground force support (applying force to the ground at landing) is more important than moving your legs faster.

The recommended strength training is in three stages. First, speedwalking 15 minutes three times a week. I do speedwalking because it gives me leg speed without wearing me out. Ferriss says to start with four weeks of speedwalking.

The second stage is weightlifting. Three times per week you do dynamic stretching, then bench presses or push-ups, then deadlifting, in which you lift the weights only to your knees. Ross's athletes deadlift three times their bodyweight! Finish with an exercise called the Torture Twist to strengthen your core muscles.

The third stage is speedwork on the track. The distances are short. Ross's sprinters, who don't compete in distances longer then 400 meters, don't run more than 70 meters in training. No advice is given for distance runners, but Ferriss's other coach telling him to run 800-meter repeats to train for a 50-kilometer race sounds similar to Ross's short interval speedwork.

Ferriss doesn't mention the one type of weightlifting I do, which is essential for avoiding calf injuries when running with the Pose Technique. Some people call these "toe lifts," I call them "heel lifts." Stand barefoot on a stair on your toes. Lower your heels below your toes. Then raise yourself as high as you can. This strengthens your calf muscles. Start with both feet, then go to one foot as you get stronger.


Ferriss recommends Total Immersion Swimming. I did Total Immersion Swimming about five years ago and agree with Ferriss. Before, I panicked and tried to swim fast to avoid drowning. I could swim only two lengths of the pool before reaching anaerobic fatigue. Total Immersion Swimming first taught me to float in the water without panicking. Then you learn to paddle around slowly. Then you improve your form step by step to become more efficient (hydrodynamic), so effortless paddling actually moves you through the water easily. Eventually you're swimming back and forth across the pool completely relaxed.

Another chapter teaches you to hit baseballs harder. Another chapter explains how to hold your breath for three minutes.


First, Ferriss rejects calorie restriction as it's a miserable life. He similarly rejects restricting ejaculations (i.e., Dr. Strangelove). He rejects resveratrol because it interferes with estrogen. I stopped taking resveratrol because it interferes with thyroid function (I'm hypothyroid). He rejects some other life extension drugs. He recommends creatine monohydrate for preventing Alzheimers, Parkinson's, and Huntington's if your family has a history of these diseases. He also recommends intermittent fasting or just not eating protein for a day. He also recommends that men donate blood to reduce iron.

Ferriss doesn't talk about DHEA, the anti-aging hormone I take. DHEA is the most abundant hormone in the body. It's related to testosterone and estrogen but men and women have it equally. It peaks at 25 then gradually declines. Low DHEA is associated with many diseases of old age, and many studies have found DHEA supplements reverse these diseases in older people.

Ferriss recommends having SpectraCell Laboratories test you for nutritional deficiencies. He doesn't mention that they also have a telomere test. This tests your body's biological age, in terms of cell reproduction (i.e., how close your cells are to being unable to reproduce and your body wearing out). Lifestyle, e.g., diet and exercise, affect this. I'm going to get both of these tests done.


This book isn't perfect or complete. But I'm giving it five stars because it gave me new ideas. I'm sure that an expert could pick apart any chapter and find mistakes or missing info. But that's OK. This book isn't the Bible; Ferriss doesn't want you to blindly repeat what he did. He investigated interesting ideas and saw what worked or didn't work for him. That's how you should use this book.

P.S. Several commentators have suggested that I write a book. I've written three books. Two are about stuttering therapy. My third book is "Hearts and Minds: How Our Bodies Are Hardwired for Relationships." It's written somewhat like "The 4-Hour Body" in that I present scientific research about relationships and then describe my experiences applying these ideas to dating and in relationships. Amazon sells all my books.
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on December 16, 2010
I started reading this book and was enjoying it. Nice writing style, interesting theories and things to try. But this is not a novel where interesting and enjoyment count. This is a "self-help" body transformation guide where results count.

I went in with an open mind and started reading the chapters on diet and fat loss, which I liked. Nutritional science is not my specialty.

I then moved into the weight lifting sections. Now I am no Arnold but I know a bit about iron. I started noticing a lot of things.

Tim will mention powerlifters who bench 800 pounds. He will fail to mention they wear bench shirts which add 100's of pounds to the total. He will mention past powerlifting champions coached by Marty Gallagher who used linear periodization to build strength. He will fail to mention the enormous amounts of steroids these specific powerlifters used. One was even busted and ratted out fellow lifters. Tim is not telling the whole story. Just parts.

Little inconsistencies stood out. You do not need to add mass to gain strength because strength is a skill. Then some sections later the only way to get stronger is to add mass??? Huh? Which is it?

He relates a story how he gained a lot of weight working out with High Intensity Training. He mentions that he was detrained at the time. It is pretty common to be able to gain weight quickly after being de-trained. Very common and one trick that is often used in "before/after shots." Again - this is well known. It looks dramatic but is just that, looks, smoke and mirrors.

It made me think - if he is leaving stuff out of the strength sections, the area which I know and am familiar with, what is he leaving out of the other sections? If he is not telling the whole story in the strength department, why should I believe he is in the diet part?

I started to notice other little inconsistencies there as well. Calories in/Calories out is a flawed model. Eat as much as you want as long as you dont eat A B and C. Type of calories count. Be careful with nuts because the calories in them really add up. Do calories count or not? Why do nut calories count? Calories in calories out does not work. Person A lost lots of weight counting calories. Is he telling the whole story here or is he not?

His dad lost a lot of weight using the "slow carb diet." Is that the whole story? He did not tell the whole story with other sections. How do I know this is the whole story? Another guy lost a lot of weight using cold water. Lot's of fat people in Minnesota. Why does cold work for his guy but not Minnesota?

I just get the sense that this guy is willing to bend things to make it look like the way he wants.
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