Book Review: The 4 Hour-Body (Plus a Free Giveaway!)

Getting prepared to deadlift 500 lbs! Image courtesy of Joint Base Lewis McChord on Twitter.
A weight lifter getting prepared to deadlift 500 lbs! Image courtesy of Joint Base Lewis McChord on Twitter.

It’s been about a year since Tim Ferriss’ latest book, 4-Hour Body, came out. The book was released to a large amount of fanfare, and even today, hovers around the top 200 books sold on Amazon.

Although focusing on body/nutrition/fitness optimization, Tim’s book has important implications for learning anything. In essence, his message is: cut the fat and extra bull when trying to learn something new and you’ll be rewarded.

So, with that message in mind, let’s dive into Tim’s book. This book review will be a little different than the other ones you may have read. Additionally, below you’ll find a nice surprise — a content/giveaway I’m running.

Everyone talks about the sex chapter, so I’ll let you read one of the other 10,000 reviews for that. In the light of “big wins”, I’ve focused on only three aspects for this review — which are physical and mental improvements that resonate with me:

  1. Weight/muscle mass gain
  2. Sleep optimization
  3. Fat loss/eating healthier

Video Review

Increasing Muscle Mass: Gaining That Muscle Weight

More (clean) food, more protein! That’s how Tim’s chapters on muscle gain can be summarized.

Overall, Tim recommends training less often than conventional wisdom suggests, but doing extremely challenging exercises with one repetition per exercise. Some of you may be familiar with the weight lifting term “one set to failure,” which dictates that you should only do one “set” of an exercise, but the weights should be heavy enough that you can’t do anymore than 10 reps comfortably. It’s additionally critically important to go slow when doing reps in a weight-resistance exercise. Too often, people flail three or four body parts around when trying to do dumbbell curls, for example. As a result, Tim prescribes lifting at a slower (5 second up/5 second down) cadence; a cadence which allows you to properly control the motion of the weight and properly isolate the necessary muscles.

As for monitoring food intake: I use to track my eating habits every once-in-a-while and make sure I’m on the correct path. I’ve always been skinny, and gaining clean weight is extremely challenging for me. However, the principles Tim outlines in the book (follow a Paleo type diet, follow a HIT exercise routine) should help everyone else in a similar boat. I’m eating more clean protein and fat than I ever have in my life, and I feel great!

Improving Sleep: Waking Up Ready and Refreshed!

Sleep is one of the most overlooked aspects of a person’s health. In the age of electronics, constant activities, and artificial lights, it’s hard not to stay awake. However, as anyone who has gone to work on a short night’s sleep can tell you, trying to do anything productive while exhausted is nearly impossible. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to your sleep habits to improve your overall well-being.

Some of you may have seen my Wakemate review, which Tim mentions in his book. As a very light sleeper who constantly wakes up during the night, I’m in the constant pursuit of things that will help me sleep better. Tim offers some great suggestions, although I have yet to try them all.

So far, though, there hasn’t been that noticeable a difference in my sleep patterns. Suggestions of Tim’s I follow:

  • I eat two scoops of almond butter about an hour before bed (I prefer Once Again organic raw almond butter — tastes delicious!)
  • I stop using electronics one hour before bed
  • I read anywhere from 10-30 pages of a fiction book with a dim night light
  • My bedroom is dark and I utilize ear plugs
  • I sleep for 8 to 8.5 hours per night on average
I’m curious to try a few more of Tim’s suggestions: using the Zeo sleep monitor and using a small humidifier are the next two on my “to-do” list.

Slow-Carb Diet: Losing That Extra Fat

Tim’s slow-carb diet is very, very similar to the Paleo Diet (which experts like Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf, and Mark Sisson have been writing about for years). There are a few important differences, though:

  1. Tim recommends milk for those trying to gain mass. For most Paleo-practitioners, milk is a no-no. A large percentage of people have a tough time digesting dairy, and it can cause problems (one of the more annoying ones being skin breakouts).
  2. Tim recommends beans. Because of the nutritional makeup of beans, Robb, Loren, and Mark recommend to stay away from it. Tim’s rationale is that if you soak the beans in the water, the malicious effects are minimized.

In general, Tim declares a war on all white carbs and processed food. Yes, that includes McDonald’s, all bread, rice, pizza, and breaded food (fried chicken wings, etc.). It might seem difficult to do, but the benefits of being anti-grain far outweigh the downsides. I rarely eat processed food and carbs (focusing instead on free range/grass-fed meat and healthy fats, such as macadamia nuts).


While Tim’s book isn’t revolutionary (as mentioned above, for example, Loren, Robb, and Mark have been covering low-carb diets for years and their books have much more detailed information), the 4-Hour Body offers a great first-step for users aiming to improve their physical makeup.

There’s enough information in the 600+ pages of the book that even if you’re familiar with the Paleo Diet and one set to failure/HIT methods, you’ll still be interested in the other topics. In addition to chapters on the Slow-Carb Diet, improving sleep, and increasing muscle mass, you also have the infamous sex/increasing testosterone chapters, chapters on reducing the impact of injuries, and strategies to improve running skill.

If you’re interested, check out the website for the book here. The website includes a free preview of the book, the book’s “trailer”, and some more details about what you can find inside.

Contest: I have an extra hardcover copy of The 4-Hour Body lying around (MSRP $27.00) and I’d love to give it away to one of my readers. All you need to do is click the “Subscribe” button above and subscribe to my newsletter (100% clean, spam-free emails; I’ll only email you when I write a new post or I have a big announcement). All my current subscribers, as well as everyone who subscribes up until February 20th at midnight ET, will be automatically entered in the raffle. I’ll ship out the book to the winner via USPS Priority Mail.

One Comment

  1. Hi David; You’ve certainly researched a lot about this book. I have yet to read it, but will have to do it sooner rather that later. I like the video review instead of written review!

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