Is Timothy Ferriss’ Four Hour Body Book the Holy Grail of Strength Training?

October 21, 2011

So I was perusing TED talks and came across a video with Timothy Ferriss talking about his new book called The Four Hour Body.  If you don’t know of Timothy Ferriss, he is the mastermind behind The Four Hour Work Week and instilling the desire for millions to “Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.” This book has changed my life in how I think about efficiency vs effectiveness. In a typical work day, we work 9-5. Ferriss suggests that by only focusing on the activities that bring you results, you become more effective. He says, “It’s not how you do something but what you do that matters.” For example, many people check their email several times throughout the day. Ferriss suggests that this dramatically cuts into your effectiveness. He gives two important rules for increasing your effectiveness: The 80/20 Rule and Parkinson’s Law. I started reflecting on these two rules not only for work life but also in how they related to fitness.

How the 80/20 Rule and Parkinson’s Law Relate to Fitness

80/20 Rule

This rule states that 80% of your results comes from 20% of your activity. If this is true, than it makes sense that if we want to become more effective, we need to cut out the other 80% of the stuff that isn’t producing any results.

Parkinson’s Law

This law states that a task will swell in perceived importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for it’s completion. This means that if you set an arbitrary deadline that is very soon and place a lot of emotion around achieving it, your brain will find a way to complete the task.

The Four Hour Body

So how does this relate to Fitness? Well, as I said, I spent some time reflecting on these above concepts and how they relate to fitness. I questioned, “Is the Four Hour Body real?” Ferriss states that the Four Hour Body means that you can cut your workout times tremendously by focusing on the above principles.

“Are 20% of my actions in my workouts really producing 80% of my results?”

The other day I tried a little experiment with my leg workout. I decided to incorporate very slow deliberate and very difficult exercises into my routine. Though I also told myself that I was only going to do 4 exercises per leg and that was it! What I did was the below workout.

I did the above workout though I also held an 80 lb heavy bag in my arms and did a 5-6 second count on the way down and a 5-6 second count on the way up. That’s all I did for legs and the results were that I was totally dead! I normally workout hard but this took my workouts to the new level. I felt like I had stumbled upon the Holy Grail of fitness. During the workout I was screaming. After the workout I was crying.

It seems all the extra reps in order to get me to the point where I was tearing the muscle tissue were not needed. Why not go straight to the point where you tear the tissue and not waste all the extra time. I’m not talking about warming up. I still did a warm up (the same movement as the exercise but with no weight). Though if you can get to the point where actual muscle change is occurring faster, why not do it?

I am still in the experiment mode but am am revamping my workouts to incorporate two key concepts from Ferriss’ Four Hour Body idea:

1. Limit tasks to the important to shorten workout time (80/20).

2. Shorten workout time to limit exercises to the important (Parkinson’s Law).

The Four Hour Body and 4HWW book has changed my thinking not only to how I view daily work life and efficiency but also about how I exercise.

Four Hour Body Promo Video


Check out Four Hour Work Week here

Check out Four Hour Body Book here

Timothy Ferriss personal blog and Four Hour Body website

Let me know your thoughts below!

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