Guest Review! “The 4-Hour Body” by Tim Ferriss

Eddie Bartlett is a former ACSM personal trainer and professional hydrostatic body fat tester. He now works in real estate and travels extensively. A longtime reader of Tim Ferriss’s work, both in book and blog form, Eddie is uniquely qualified to review Ferriss’s latest book below. Please welcome Eddie and show him some love in the comments!

Title: The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman
Author: Timothy Ferriss
ISBN: 9780307463630
Pages: 592
Release date: December 14, 2010
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Genre: Fitness, self help
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary

Similar to the beginning of his first book, The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss begins by qualifying himself to write the book. But unlike many authors of fitness books, Ferriss is no doctor; rather, he’s a human guinea pig that is obsessed with testing and tracking. He makes a case that his personal results may be more valid than many scientific studies because of certain flaws and biases in the scientific community. Tim’s second venture into the world of book sales is to write an uncommon book on health that breaks all the rules.

The more you read, the more obvious it becomes that few will actually want to read the entire book. There are several parts that are not applicable to everybody. I skipped the chapter “Reversing Injuries” (since I have none) as well as the relatively dense appendices. This is the kind of book that you skip around based on what you’re interested in reading. Nonetheless, here are the topics of the book in order:

1. Fundamentals

2. Getting Started
Tim explains all the common reasons that people fail in their exercise regimes and offers different methods for anticipating them and preventing them. He emphasizes that willpower alone is rarely enough.

3. Subtracting Fat
Ferriss introduces the Slow-Carb diet, which is designed to be easy to follow and adhere to. Those who are already familiar with this diet from following his blog will enjoy the discussion of more advanced techniques as well.

4. Adding Muscle
Just like the title implies, this chapter has information on bulking up that is relatively simple to follow, compared to most body-building books.

5. Improving Sex
One of the claims of the book that will probably help it sell is that it describes how to give a woman a 15-minute orgasm. There are many sex tips (with illustrations!), along with some interesting information on increasing testosterone and sperm count. Unfortunately, the 15-minute orgasm is actually just 15 minutes of pleasure unless you’re a special type of girl.

6. Perfecting Sleep
What can we do to make sleep better? What happens during sleep? How can we sleep less and feel more rested? This is where the “Becoming Superhuman” line comes from– he’s talking about polyphasic sleep.

7. Reversing Injuries
This chapter introduces exercises and other methods for reducing or eliminating injuries. It includes information on medical tourism (which is no surprise, coming from Mr. Geoarbitrage Tim Ferriss).

8. Running Faster and Farther/Getting Stronger/etc
Do you want to jump higher, run farther, and bench more while putting in the least possible effort? These details are very important if you’re about to enter the NFL draft and a slight difference for you can mean millions, and Tim talks about how quickly he improved in certain measures very quickly. This chapter also features a cameo from David Blaine on holding your breath.

9. Living Longer and Better
This is a short chapter on many of the ways to lengthen your life. Many of the methods are too risky even for Tim Ferriss, but there are some easy and safe techniques described as well, such as intermittent fasting.

10. Appendices
Ferriss saves all of his densest material for the end, presumably to back up his claims to the skeptics and geeks.

Analysis

If you’ve ever wondered about your health, get this book, but don’t worry about reading the whole thing.

The Good:

This is probably the best nonfiction I’ve read in 2010. It doesn’t take long to be convinced that the author is someone we should listen to (this man is clearly OBSESSED!!), but more importantly, the book is extremely readable. If I were to write a book on the same topic with the same information, it would probably come out reading like the DSM-IV, but Ferriss does a good job of including plenty of entertaining anecdotes and humor to help us along, not to mention simple and concise explanations.

As the subtitle promises, the content of the book is definitely uncommon. There are some very unusual techniques and advice that I’ve never seen before. However, the greatest uncommonness of the book is its “Tipping Point” approach to health. Following the trend of The 4-Hour Workweek, a major theme of The 4-Hour Body is how to see the most results from the least amount of effort. Ferriss is not necessarily saying that conventional wisdom (hard work, discipline, keeping up with research) is wrong—just that there’s an easier and smarter way through hacking the human body. I think this approach works great for a generation with a low attention span and an immediate results mindset.

Because the book is surprisingly simple and easy to read, I think a lot of people are going to at least TRY some of the methods discussed in the book (New Years’ Resolutions anyone?), and it should make some big waves in the blogosphere where Ferriss is somewhat of an icon. I myself am planning to make some adjustments to my current habits—at least for a little while—while using some new, interesting ideas for setting myself up for success. It’s hard not to be at least curious about trying out some of the cool ideas in the book!

The 4-Hour Body has a fresh take on such common subjects like diet and exercise that I think anyone who is even somewhat health-conscious would gain something from this book. Moreover, even if you were to read only one or two chapters, I believe it’s still worth the $15 investment.

The Bad:

Critics are going to run wild with this book. Everything from advice on mixing different over-the-counter drugs and supplements, to consuming high amounts of cholesterol, to his claims of gaining more than 1 pound of muscle a day for a month are going to feed the fire for skeptics, trolls, and haters.

I, for one, believe it’s impossible to gain 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days as he’s claimed to have done. Yes, it is possible to gain that much total weight, mostly water, especially if you’re an experienced dehydrator-rehydrator as he is, but muscle is completely different.

Claims like these are going to make a lot of people call the author a snake-oil salesman, and I think to an extent he is. While it will help him sell books, unfortunately I think it will also cause people to label him as a fraud and therefore dismiss all the other information that is definitely worth reading and considering.

The Ugly:

The author actually weighed his poop.

Happy Reading!

3 replies »

  1. 15 minutes of pleasure?! False advertising, much? That doesn’t count as bad, Eduardo? Also surprised you didn’t talk more about what percentage of the book has already appeared on his blog. Oh, well. AM looking forward to perusing myself.

    Like

  2. The sex stuff (15 minute orgasm) is what got me to buy The 4-Hour Body. There is some good stuff in those two chapters – useful illustrations and a fairly straightforward approach from his teachers and trainers – but its really just an introduction – I’m guessing this one of the topics in the book he has researched the least.
    If the orgasm chapters are an example of Tim’s 80/20 rule – what he thinks is the 20% that produces 80% of the result – then I’d say what is in the book is closer to 5%, not 20% – there is a lot more available for both parties than what he describes. I’m guessing that as Tim’s research continues he’ll eventually wind up looking at Lafayette Morehouse, the original source of this information. For people who’ve never seen the information Tim is presenting, it’s a fast way to get started on a very very fun journey.

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