The 4 Hour Body Review – Can This Book Help you Gain Muscle and Lose Fat?

If you’ve not heard of Tim Ferris before then check yo’self.

This dude got famous from his first book ‘The Four Hour Work Week’, in which he basically tells you how you can move to a desert island and earn a healthy income by doing a few hours work a week on your laptop. Sounds like a pipe dream but a lot of the stuff in there is genuinely actionable if you’ve got the gumption.

 

Tim Feriss

The man himself. Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Ferriss

 

Imagine what kind of ideas he throws up then when he applies the same methodology to getting your dream physique. Can you really achieve your goals by putting in just four hours work per week? I haven’t followed his plan down to a tee, but all the advice is entirely plausible.

The most exciting thing about this book is that Tim’s theories are totally original - you won’t have read diet or workout plans like this before in Men’s Fitness. This means even seasoned trainers will at least learn a couple of new tricks which they can incorporate into their current routine, even if they don’t want to go balls deep with the Four Hour Body plan.

4 Hour Body Cover

Also available on Kindle

 

Overview

In essence, Tim is talking about turning your gym and diet into a semi-automated process, meaning you get maximum return on investment – that means there’s no overkill – no wasted time in the gym, no wasted time coming up with fancy diet plans, just the quickest, easiest route to your goals that frees up a load of time to do other stuff.

Tim’s theory is, most people spend way to long in the gym, and that once you’re passed a certain point, anything else you do is essentially useless – it’s all about the 80/20 rule. This rule dictates that 80% of your gains from 20% of your input - if we apply this building muscle, we can say that most of your gains will be the result of the TOP 20% of your work rate, i.e. your final reps in each of your sets which initiate muscular failure.

Think about your own training objectively and you’ll probably agree that you waste time in the gym. Could you be training more intensely, resting less between sets? Probably. Most of us could realistically slash the amount of time we spend in the gym on a weekly basis by 80% and still get great results.

Many people apply the 80/20 rule to dieting and fat loss – eat clean 80% of the time and allow yourself the odd cheat meal, and you’ll get pretty good results. Setting a goal of eating clean 100% of the time is unrealistic, and is it really worth the sacrifice (to your sanity, social life, taste buds) for the extra 20% of possible gains (loses)?

This is a pretty bold claim, and Ferris doesn’t just say ‘spend less time in the gym’ or ‘train harder’. The book gives you a fully laid-out training program to follow.

The book is split into a few different sections – there’s one on gaining strength, one on sleep but the two chapters we’re really interested in are the ones on muscle gain and fat loss.

 

Fat loss

Ferris takes a predominantly diet-based approach to fat loss, after all, this fits perfectly into the 80/20 rule theory – you spend a lot more time prepping/cooking/eating food than you do in the gym – it might not be a 80/20 ratio, but you get the gist.

Tim’s fat loss principles center around what he calls the slow carb diet.

This isn’t anything revolutionary, and is probably pretty close to how most of you are already eating – basically prioritise fresh meat and vegetables, and avoid ‘white foods’ – i.e. bread, pasta, etc. The one carb he encourages is beans or lentils (if you have a Heinz can in your head, give yourself a slap). Pretty standard really, but there are a few aspects you may not have come across before;

  • Have one cheat DAY a week – eat whatever you want
  • Eat the same foods everyday (especially breakfast and lunch) to make the diet easier to follow
  • Don’t drink calories
  • Don’t eat fruit

Easy.

Fat loss isn’t all about diet however according to Tim. He touts a few other tips or ‘hacks’ that won’t make much difference on their own, but do help to get the best possible results. One such tip is taking ice cold showers which stimulates thermogenisis – a process that involves energy, and therefore calories.

All sound advice, most of which I follow anyway- and most which you’ll be familiar with if you’ve read anything about low carb or paleo diets before.

 

Muscle Building

Are there really any new ways to build muscle? Hasn’t the process been the same since the dawn of time – life heavy stuff, frequently?

Well the biological process by which muscle is built hasn’t changed, but Ferris is confident he’s found a training loop hole that hardly anyone is exploiting, and it involves a workout plan that priorities intensity, at the expense of frequency.

Like the slow carb diet the plan is incredibly simple – I won’t tell you what it is – you’re better off reading the book, but it involves just two different workouts, and LOTS of rest days in between – this means training a maximum of three times per week.

Ferriss workout plan

Ferriss’ plan is on the right

 

Even in the gym, each workout takes about 30 minutes. Sound to good to be true? Don’t get too excited, each workout involves an incredible level of discipline and dedication, so when you are in the gym, you’ll work.

So what sets these workouts apart from your everyday body-part split? Time under tension.

Each rep, you’ll spend a LOT of time on the eccentric portion, which means using much less weight than you’re used to, but actually working the muscle a lot harder because you’re under tension for so long. Be prepared to ache the next day.

Summary

Even if you don’t plan to radically change your your program, this is an interesting read.

Some of Tim’s philosophies are pretty ‘out there’ compared to the approach most people are used to when it comes to training and nutrition, but the core principles for sculpting a great physique remain the same.

If you’re looking to give your training a real shake up, give this program a go. I’d also recommend it for people that are really short on time and looking to streamline their training and nutrition as much as possible – everything in this book is geared toward efficiency and freeing up as much time as possible.

I’d even encourage you to get this for the minor tweaks or ‘body hacks’ Tim talks about – e.g. cold showers for fat loss.

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Booost O2

Booost Oxygen Review

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Ok, I was skeptical too, Oxygen in a canister; what the hell right? How can they sell bottled air?

This is a pretty typical, and in fairness, a pretty rational response when I tell people I’m trying an Oxygen-based workout supplement, why would you pay for something you can inhale 24/7 absolutely free?!

Well, I have two responses to that;

  • If you paid any attention at school, you’d know Oxygen only makes up about 20% of the air we breath, it’s mostly Nitrogen. This supplement contains pure Oxygen
  • If you think bottled Oxygen is a stupid idea, yet you’re prepared to spend hundreds on pre-workout supplements or energy drinks (both of which contain a lot of crap) to give you a ‘boost’, then I’m afraid you’re an idiot

Booost O2 is a new Oxygen supplement that, unlike pre-workouts, which give you a mental stimulus and an ‘insane pump’, can actually increase your performance in the gym, and help you build muscle and burn fat more efficiently.

Booost O2

 

Here’s the (not very) sciency bit;

Your muscles need Oxygen, as well as some other stuff, to function optimally, once Oxygen is in short supply, your muscles will soon give up. Our muscles use Oxygen quicker than we can inhale it, this is why we get out of breath particularly when do heavy sets of squats or deadlifts for example (bigger muscles are being used and require more oxygen), this is called Oxygen debt. With this in mind, wouldn’t it be cool if you could somehow get access to some supplemental Oxygen. Hello Booost.

Booost comes in a silver canister (different sizes are available) with a push-to-spray button (like deodorant), if your only experience of ingesting pure oxygen is out of balloon in a fetid street in Malia, then this will be quite a shock. To dispense the product, simply place in the mouth and spray while inhaling sharply, repeat 2-4 times to get an adequate dose.

So what  are the benefits of spending your hard earned dollar on something that’s infinitely abundant and free, and makes you look like you’ve nicked the BFGs asthma inhaler?

Well, for a start, it makes your workouts much more efficient. How long do you spend recovering after a gruelling set of squats or deadlifts, not from a muscular fatigue point of view, but in terms of oxygen debt? If you’re anything like me, probably a good couple of minutes. I trialed Booost during my last leg workout and it drastically cut down my rest periods.

Because of this, I was able to pack more lifting into a shorter time period and despite doing slightly less volume than usual, I’ve had pretty severe Hamstring DOMS for several days after. Ok this isn’t the best barometer of a successful workout but it’ll do for this very unscientific test.

 

Booost #gttw

 

So how does using Booost actually feel? Well, you know when you’re gasping for breath  after being crushed by a loaded barbell for nigh on one minute? (if you don’t you probably need to take a long hard look at your training programme), using Booost right after greatly reduces the the time you’re in Oxygen debt, or in laymens terms ‘helps you get your breath back quicker’. It also has a minty fresh taste.

This is a good thing because it means reduced rest periods, allowing you to pack more lifting into less time, stressing the target muscle(s) to a greater degree, and ensuring heart rate stays elevated, which of course is great if you’re looking to burn fat.

If you have the money to spent on workout supplements, ditch the flourescent green, sugar and chemical-ladden pre-workout concoction  (if you need mental stimulation before your workout you need more sleep) and invest in some Booost; use it as an intra-workout supplement and slash your rest time (and your time in the gym, if you so wish).

If you read this blog regularly, you’re probably aware of my view on supplements, but I’d really stress that Booost is a genuinely useful addition to your stack.

 

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deep heat

Deep Heat/Deep Freeze Review

Deep heat has been around for a while, affectionately known and loved as the magic healing spray in a can with the distinctive smell. For years this product has been used to treat minor muscular aches and pains. With the rise in people hitting the gym, demand for these products is only set to rise and the company behind Deep Heat were kind enough to send me through some of their new gel to review.

Working out, whether you’re doing resistance or cardio can result in a dreaded martyr named DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness. Such soreness can occur in any of the major or minor muscle groups and can vary in severity and duration.

deep heat

Deep Heat and Deep Freeze gel are designed to provide some temporary relief for this soreness. Firstly, the difference between to two products;

Deep Heat has a pleasant, warming sensation that makes you feel like you’ve got some kind of internal hot water bottle gently soothing the ache, with that same distinctive smell.

Deep Freeze is quite the opposite, an ice blue gel that slowly filters down a cooling sensation that puts soreness on ice with no odor.

So I usually get pretty bad DOMS if I train my chest right but a quick application of Deep Heat quelled the ache for a good couple of hours,

Now, there;s DOMS and there’s DOMS; whenever I train my Calves, even with a decent amount of stretching i seem to suffer near debilitating levels of soreness, starting about 48 hours afterwards – it’s painful to walk and do normal stuff like rolling my trousers up over my calves (to apply the Deep Heat!). This soreness lasts for around three days so was the perfect opportunity to test out the power of Deep Heat and Deep Freeze.

The application itself was painful, but after a minute or so, both Deep Heat and Deep Freeze got to work and started to at least numb the tenderness when the muscle was stationary.Unfortunately, when serious DOMS is the diagnosis, there’s no real cure, and even after the application, the fundamental, underlying ache made walking as painful as ever.

deep freeze

Both Deep Heat and Deep Freeze do provide some degree of temporary relief from muscular aches and pains, but if you’ve really pushed your body to the limit, prevention is the only option. To eliminate the risk of DOMS, start stretching as soon as you finish your sets, have some post workout nutrition, and have a hot/cold shower (alternative 1 minute hot, 1 minute cold for 10 minutes).

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Mass Blitz

MaxiRAW Mass Blitz Review

First of all, massive thanks to MaxiRAW for sending me these samples to review, much appreciated.

MaxiRAW Mass Blitz falls into the ‘weight gainer’ category of supplements, made with a blend of the three main macronutrients, rather than just protein, these products are designed for trainers looking for a convenient and cost effective way of adding calories to their daily intake, with the end goal of adding muscle.

Mass Blitz

So I’ve never been a massive proponent of mass gainers, weight gainers, meal replacement shakes, or whatever you want to call them. As early as a few years ago, most of these products were made with tonnes of sugar, making them a recipe for gaining fat as well as muscle, not something desired by today’s intelligent trainer.

Nowadays most of these weight gainers are made with oats instead of simple sugars, a far more sensible option, combining whey protein with a slow-release complex carb that acts as a normal meal, keeping insulin levels stable.

So what’s Mass Blitz like?

You could be forgiven for mistaking Mass Blitz with regular whey, the reason being that the oats are so finely ground, they’re virtually invisible. This makes Mass Blitz really easy to mix and drink, far easier than my homemade oat/protein mass gainer mix which was basically whey protein on top followed by a lump of oats at the bottom of the shaker.

I opted for the strawberry flavour which tastes great, much like any other whey shake, the consistency is slightly thicker, and you can definitely detect the oats, but that’s no bad thing. Mass Blitz contains around 350 calories per 100g, which works out as around 3 normal size scoops

Mass Blitz

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Pharma whey

PhD Pharma Whey Review

I almost religiously buy MaxiRAW or MyProtein whey as it’s the best value and tastes great. I usually look forward to my bi-monthly haul of whey, which I usually buy online, but since the last time I ran out was just before the start of October – and the 20% tax hike on all sports nutrition products – I thought I’d shop around, and even take a look in some actual stores.

We’ve just had a GNC open up in our hometown, this would usually be great news but I’m far too aware of the high premiums charged in shops like these, nevertheless I couldn’t resist a snoop around.

Lucky I did because GNC were doing a great buy one get one free promotion on everything. Even though the prices are still somewhat over inflated compared to what you can get online, I had to get in there but the price hike so I got some PhD Pharma whey.


At £64.99 for two 2.27Kg tubs (on the BOGOFF promotion)  this was a pretty reasonable deal considering I usually pay around the same amount for two 2.5Kg bags online.

As for the product itself, the Chocolate Cookie flavour tastes ok, if little ‘mashmallowly’. Unlike most other whey products I’ve tried, this stuff comes up really thick and needs a lot of water to create a consistency that you can drink, rather than chew on.

This a bit of a problem, especially if you have 1.5 or more scoops in a shaker, because some of the powder can become clogged at the bottom and fail to mix with the water, so best to add the water before the powder.

In all honest there is very little between different whey powders, despite what the adverts would have you believe, but on balance I’d still go with my two usual brands over Phrama whey in future.

7/10

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images

N.O-XPLODE Review

Let’s be honest, if we could take a magic potion that somehow turned us into 18 stone, ripped beasts, we would. Unfortunately, in bodybuilding, as in any sport, there are no shortcuts. The nice people at BSN who make a range of nutritional supplements however would have you believe that veiny vascularity is just a scoop of fluorescent green powder away in their ads for NO-XPLODE, a pre-workout formula which allegedly yields skin-tearing pumps. Or something.

Not quite…

 

Having used NO-XPLODE on a few occasions, I can confirm that I haven’t turned into the Juggernaut from X-Men after being given a wet willie, no the formula didn’t make my veins course to bursting point, what it did do however, is make me want to work hard, really hard.

For me, the benefits of NO-XPLODE were far more mental than physical. Minutes after ingesting the sharp, acidic, bile like substance that’s created when you mix NO-XPLODE with water, I felt a distinct, almost overwhelming desire to hit the gym and throw some heavy stuff around. This is likely due to the near pharmaceutical quantities of Taurine, which has a similar effect to caffeine.

The question is, is the £30 odd enough to pay for a tub of chemicals that are quite possibly doing you as much harm as they are good? Well, if you’re one of those trainers that believes in all the gimmicks and likes to live with the illusion that supplements will do most of the work for you, yes.

Motivation in a tub

 

If you’re more measured and intelligent in your approach, then NO-XPLODE is a handy tool in the locker that gives you that much needed boost when lethargy sets in. The toxic looking concoction has varying effects on different people, so the best advice is to try some for yourself, I’d take it easy on the dosage however, one of my initial over-enthusiastic three-scoop mixes resulted in me depositing most of the calories I’d ingested that day into the sewage system.

6/10

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