The 4-Hour Body: What I’ve Learned, Part 1
I’ve mentioned in this blog before that I’m a big fan of The 4 Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss.
I have recently begun reading it again. Sometimes you read a book and think, ‘Wow, this is full of useful information.’ Then when you’ve finished, you put it aside and never act on any of it.
That’s why I’ve decided to go back through it again, this time taking some notes along the way. It’s been over a year since I read it, so it feel fresh again. I thought I’d document the things I’m learning along the way here on the site. That will help me learn and I can share it with you guys as well.
The 4-Hour Body On Amazon
First of all, if you’ve heard of it but not read it yet, go out and get it now. Click the image above or the following link to check it out on Amazon.com:
You can click over to the Kindle version from that page too if you prefer your books in that format.
If you are new to the 4-Hour series, then I highly recommend them. The author, Timothy Ferriss, is a research fanatic. This book took him 10 years to put together. He has access to elite athletes and medical professionals. He brings these 2 worlds together in a way that not many people could, and he throws in all kinds of personal experimentation that the average person would never think to do.
We get to benefit from Tim’s obsession as he lays out the truth behind exercise and diet.
Today, I’m going to start at the beginning. This book is not necessarily meant to be read all the way through, but it is recommended that you go through the first 2 chapters first – ‘Fundamentals’ and ‘Ground Zero’.
The first thing you need to be aware of is how to define exercise. Exercise is something that you can measure. This is crucial. Recreational sports is great, but you will never reach your goals by luck, as a byproduct of running around a lot.
In this book, Tim suggests you set a goal for yourself. Instead of targeting to just lose weight, he suggests a body recomposition. This means you will gain some muscle and lose some weight. His suggested target is 20lbs of recomposition. This usually splits to about 15lb of fat loss, and 5lbs of muscle growth.
For most people, this will make that huge difference from feeling insecure to feeling rejuvenated and positive about your body.
The crucial indicator in all this is called your body fat percentage. What many people don’t realize is that we don’t just have sub-cutaneous fat (fat directly underneath the skin). We can also have fat surrounding our internal organs, and this is bad news indeed. This leads to increased risk of heart disease. If you can burn this fat away, you can feel 10 years younger and maybe even literally extend your life by many years.
Minimum Effective Dose
The last thing I want to mention today is the concept of MED – minimum effective dose. This is defined as the minimum amount of work required to achieve a desired result. Dose can refer to either an amount of something you ingest like food or drugs, or to exercise as well.
Some people just exercise as long as they possibly can and believe that they are doing themselves good. However, more is not necessarily better. In fact, it can actually do you harm.
The best example of this that Tim gives is tanning in the sun. If you need 15 minutes in the sun to trigger a melanin response (the dark pigment in your skin that makes you look tanned), then 15 minutes is your MED for tanning. However, if you stay in the sun for an hour for example, you will burn and then you will want to avoid the sun like the plague as it sears your skin. Now the person who follows the 15-minute MED will be able to go back for more 15-minute sessions while you are staying in the shade. You will come home from your holiday pale, while your friend will have a well developed tan.
The same applies to the biological systems in your body. To remove stored fat, you need to do the least necessary to trigger a ‘fat loss cascade’ via your hormones. To add muscle, you need to trigger hormonal muscle growth mechanisms in a similar fashion.
This is the first important lesson to keep in mind. Next week I’ll be back with part 2 as we move through the book. I highly recommend you grab yourself a copy so you can follow along.
****Update: Click through for Part 2.