From Geek to Freak: How I Gained 34 lbs. of Muscle in 4 Weeks


After holding off for nearly two years, I’m posting this because too many people have asked for it. The lasses should read it, too, as the same principles can be applied to bodyfat loss.

I weighed 152 lbs. for four years of high school, and after training in tango in Buenos Aires in 2005, that had withered to 146 lbs. Upon returning to the US, I performed an exhaustive analysis of muscular hypertrophy (growth) research and exercise protocols, ignoring what was popular to examine the hard science. The end result? I gained 34 lbs. of muscle, while losing 3 lbs. of fat, in 28 days.

Before and after measurements, including underwater hydrostatic weighings, were taken by Dr. Peggy Plato at the Human Performance Laboratory at the San Jose State University, and I had blood tests taken on September 30 and October 20. Though this ridiculous experiment might seem unhealthy, I also dropped my total cholesterol count from 222 to 147 without the use of statins. No joke.

Here are a few comparative shots. Oh, and I forgot to mention, all of this was done with two 30-minute workouts per week, for a total of 4 HOURS of gym time:




How did I do it?

First, some select stats on the 4-week change (9/21-10/23):

Bodyfat %- 16.72 to 12.23

Suit Size- 40 short to 44 regular (measured at Brooks Brothers at Santana Row in San Jose by a professional tailor)

Neck- 15.8″ to 18″

Chest- 37.5″ to 43″

Shoulders- 43″ to 52″

Thigh- 21.5″ to 25.5″

Calf- 13.5″ to 14.9″

Upper Arm- 12″ to 14.6

Forearm- 10.8″ to 12″

Waist- 29.5″ to 33.1″

Hips (Ass at widest)- 34″ to 38.23″

Here are the six basic principles that made it happen:

1. Follow Arthur Jones’ general recommendations for one-set-to-failure from the little-known Colorado Experiment, but with lower frequency (maximum of twice per week) and with at least 3 minutes between exercises.

2. Perform every repetition with a 5/5 cadence (5 seconds up, 5 seconds down) to eliminate momentum and ensure constant load.

3. Focus on no more than 4-7 multi-joint exercises (leg press, trap bar deadlift, overhead press, Yates bent row, dips, incline machine benchpress, etc.) and exercise your entire body each workout to elicit a maximal hormonal (testosterone, growth hormone + IGF-1) response.

4. Eat enormous quantities of protein (much like my current fat-loss diet) with low-glycemic index carbohydrates like quinoa, but drop calories by 50% one day per week to prevent protein uptake downregulation.

5. Exercise less frequently as you increase strength and size, as your recovery abilities can only increase 20-30%, while you can often increase fat-free muscle tissue up to 100% before reaching a genetic set-point.

6. Record every workout in detail, including date, time of day, order of exercises, reps, and weight. Remember that this is an experiment, and you need to control the variables to accurately assess progress and make adjustments.

For the ladies not interested in becoming the Hulk, if you follow a “slow-carb” diet and reduce rest periods to 30 seconds between exercises, this exact workout protocol can help you lose 10-20 pounds of fat in the same 28-day time span.

Once again, questioning assumptions leads to the conclusion: less is more. Detox from TV twice a week and put in your 4 hours a month!


If you enjoyed this post, check out my latest book, The 4-Hour Body, #1 New York Times and #1 Amazon bestseller. You will learn: How to lose 20 pounds in 30 days (without exercise), how to triple your testosterone, techniques for producing 15-minute female orgasms, and more.

You can also pick up the Expanded and Updated 4-Hour Workweek, which includes more than 50 new case studies of luxury lifestyle design, business building, reducing hours 80%+, and world travel.

Related and Recommended Posts:

Tim Ferriss interviewed by Derek Sivers

Tim Ferriss articles on Huffington Post

Tim Ferriss interview – common questions on lifestyle design and productivity

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 800 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

1,393 Replies to “From Geek to Freak: How I Gained 34 lbs. of Muscle in 4 Weeks”

  1. Outstanding tips! I personally tried the less workout tip to gain muscle but, didn’t really like it. Why, the days I don’t workout I feel slugish not cool. I guess it’s just a mind trick. lol I don’t go past an hour in the gym and do concentrate on on body part. I gain muscle and lose fat with healthy meals. Noticed when I start skipping meals nitrogen retention goes out the window fast.. Don’t have the same vascularity. Great blog!

  2. I was just wondering, about the nutrition regiment. Are you supposed to take all of the supplements even on non-training days, or just follow slow-carb as usual?

    1. No, Fred, just proof is not a valid source of information on the subject.

      I’ve been training people for a living for nearly two decades now and while advanced trainees might have difficulty gaining more than 0.5 lbs of muscle weekly, much greater gains are not unusual for beginners or people resuming training/regaining muscle after a layoff. This is even more likely with a proper, high intensity training program like the one Tim followed, as opposed to the high volume, multi-set nonsense popular with many bodybuilders, whose gains have more to do with drugs than their training or nutrition.

  3. I dont know why the “haters” and “doubters” just cant try it for themselves and than be the judge?

    I am sick and tired of people just blindly following like sheep with no testing or even a “hummm does this really work?”…

    I am on the training regimee (occam) and I am seeing incredible gains in power as well as fat loss and muscle gain… This has to be the 10th time I have started going to the gym and I believe “The 10th time`s the charm” for me…

    Will report after a 2 month period is over with before/after pictures etc.

  4. Hey Tim,

    I am using a season working in antarctica as my own unique test bed for a condensed version of several of your programmes. I am currently following the low carb diet (including massive amounts of whole food protein, grapefruit juice, coffee, pre and post meal exercise), occams protocol and working 11 hour days outside in the – 40 degree cold doing manual labour. My desired result is increased lean muscle mass and decreased fat. If you have any suggestions or observations I’d be keen to hear them.



  5. Hey Tim,

    Recently got 4HB on Amazon, seems pretty interesting.

    In Occam’s part 1, under getting started you say “…as soon as you have a workout where more than exercise has stalled….increase to 4 days in between workouts.”

    What do you mean by “stalled”?

    In Occam’s 2 you say to add an extra recovery day in between A & B if you abandon a workout b/c you miss a set (under “what if I don’t make the target number of reps?”).

    Is that what you mean? The 2 phrases almost seem to contradict each other, or am I miss-reading?

    Anyway, great book so far, keep questioning the norm!

  6. Well played. Your telling every lazy fat american exactly what they want to hear. Get in great shape with little to no effort!! Wake up Americans, if you’re not willing to put in a good amount of time to maintain your health then your going to stay fat. You WILL NOT gain 9lbs of muscle a week from 1 hour of effort.

    1. if you really believe that working out till you puke, and eating like it’s a job stuffing in 3-5,000 calories a day is “no effort” then you are sadly mistaken.

  7. Brandon: When I first started training back in the early 1980’s I was advised to do the following whole body work out Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays:

    Squats 2×8-10

    Bench Press 2×8-10

    Bent Rows 2×8-10

    Overhead Presss 2×8-10

    Lying Triceps Extensions 2×8-10

    Barbel Curls 2×8-10

    After 2 months of this routine and eating like there was no tomorrow, my weight had increased by 26lbs and my waist measurement had decreased by 2 inches.

    From this I concluded that I must have lost fat and gained a substantial amount of muscle, I did not think this was impossible at the time, as I simply didn’t know what should and should not be achievable.

    As time went by I started to introduce more volume into the routine and almost immediately saw all gains slow to a snails pace…like a fool I took the advice of ‘experts’ and trained longer and more frequently until finally after about a year, I come across the writings of Mike Mentzer and started to follow a more abbreviated routine…the gains started again almost straight away.

    I have witnessed this pattern repeatedly with people I have trained with and others I have personally trained without exception.

    Looking back had I trained with less volume and frequency in those first 2 months I sincerely believe I would have gained more then I did, possibly much more.

    Most people never experience that sort of rapid muscle gain simply because they follow volume routines popularised by the muscle magazines, it’s no coincidence that the popularity of volume training coincides with the wide availability of anabolic steroids, as that’s the only way the human body can recover from those marathon type workouts.

  8. Brandon,

    Results from training are related to the degree of effort you put into your workouts, not the time you spend in the gym. If someone is truly training with a very high level of effort then a large amount of time in the gym would not only not be possible, but counterproductive since one would quickly overtrain.

    Anyone spending over an hour in the gym each week is wasting their time, as no more is rarely necessary for optimum results.

    You do not have to put in a “good amount of time” to get good results from training, stay healthy, or lose fat, you just have to train very, very hard when you are in the gym, then get adequate rest and eat well to aid in recovery and adaptation.

    While I have never personally had a client gain as much as Tim in one month (the most muscle I’ve ever personally witnessed and measured someone gain in less than a month drug free is 8 pounds) I know that best gains come from training harder, NOT from spending more time in the gym.

  9. I don’t get why you’re making such ridiculous claims. You expect people to believe that you put on over a pound of muscle a day, while not gaining any fat but actually losing some??? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t doubt that you made excellent progress following this program under your specific circumstances. It’s a good program and is in fact very similar to what I like to use. In addition, your having been away from lifting for a period of time probably put you in a position to make large gains as you regained lost ground so to speak. But the numbers you’re throwing out simply aren’t plausible. The guy above me mentioned that the most muscle he’s ever seen someone put on in a month is 8 pounds (a number much closer to what I’ve observed in my years of being around gyms), and yet you expect people to believe that you put on 4x that much?! I know you’re trying to sell stuff but come on, at least try to make realistic claims…

    1. Agreed. He could have posted the before and after pics with a more realistic timeframe and probably sold more product. As is, only the young and gullible, who tend not to have much to spend, will be taken in. But he’s the businessman so maybe he has discovered that this is his niche and the market where he’ll do best.

  10. To all of you who believe this, just throw away your money now. He is selling a book and making ridiculous and impossible claims. Please do not be hoaxed into this scam.

  11. so first things first….when it comes to nutrition and work outs….Everyone, and i mean everyone is different. no two people are ever going to get the same results from any type of work out. when people work out they need to realize that when people say “this work out worked for me” or “that work out worked for me” it probably has, but maybe not the same extent as anyone else. my self i have been working out on and off since i was 12. 10 years of trying different routines and diets. and i’d have to say that the only true way to see results is by just listening to what your body is telling you and using common sense. “hey my muslces are really tired”….then rest. “i don’t feel anything changing?” then increase weight or intensity. do what makes your body feel great….not that made somone elses body feel good. because EVERYONE is different. no two bodies will ever be the same. take a look at arnold and ronnie. you put those guys in the same room at the same age, and gave them the exact same diet and the exact same workout. no matter what anyone says, they WILL have different results. as for gaining muscle, yes it is extreamly hard in some cases to do so, and in other cases where somone has worked out b4 then suddely stopped for a period of time and started back up, chances are they will gain muscle more quick just from muscle memory. ask a two hundred and fifty pound man to loose 50 pounds in fat. chances are he would have no issue gaining that 50 pounds back. ask a body builder to stop working out and wait till he weight drops 50 pounds of muslce. chances are he’d have no problem gaining it back. as for loosing fat it is WAY easier to do so than gaining muscle. my self i went from 200 pounds and being extreamly out of shape. to dropping 40 punds of fat and getting down to 160lb’s in a month and a half. ask me to gain that 40 lbs back in muslce…yea its gunna take time….no matter who you are. our cells can only reproduce at a given rate. and what we do to feather that rate will only decrease it slighly or increase it slightly. to get a change in your body and physical development to succeed in a everlasting change takes years to develop, but with hard work and dedication our bodies will adapt to anything we throw at it. we are the greatest creation on this planet and to sum up all of our capabilities into one book would be one of the greated feats known to man. we are forever changing and learning these new things is the knowledge to change. just remember everyone is different and you need to listen to what your body is telling you. if you aint micheal jordon….you can’t be micheal jordon. and if your not ronnie coleman your won’t be ronnie coleman. but by listening to your body and keeping up with dedication you can be the best YOUR OWN body can be. only YOURSELF can hold YOURSELF back.

  12. Firstly Mr Ferris the Four Hour Body was a great book. The question I put to you is this. As a fan of both High intensity training and pavel’s (who is strongly anti HIT from what I understand) how do wade through material to find truths. I started training in the HIT style of Dr Ken and Kim Wood and have found it to be amazing. My strength coach was mentored by both of them. However I also intern at a sports program dealing with elite athletes and the style of programming is completely different. I see the rational of both but struggle with developing my own style. Any thoughts? I read a lot of research but as you know especially in this field there’s a lot of bias and agenda comes across in a lot of material. I am but a beginner and feel quite lost.

  13. Hi Tim,

    Learned an awful lot from your website and it has changed how I look at things. It must have been very hard to maintain such a high caloric intake as well as a strict workout programme.

  14. Tim, is it possible to still have big full body gains by only training your lower body as I have torn a tendon in my upper arm? If so which exercises would you recommend?



  15. Although the shots are decent enough. I also agree with majority that to get these results it takes longer than 4 weeks. However mike changs workouts on you tube are very good.

    You could always book a personal trainer and get buff or slim with their advise but the can be expensive

  16. Tim – I’m about to start the Geek to Freak program. I didn’t notice much if any cardio. Last night, coming in from salsa dancing I realized I naturally have cardio in my weekly routine. I dance salsa once maybe twice a week, equivelant to 2-4 hours of cardio.

    Does this impact the work out? Does it totally change up recovery? Should I simply just add more calories to my diet? Should I stop dancing for 1-3 months?


    A Salsero soon to be Freak

  17. I am so amazed on the improvement that you got. I can’t believe that you really gained that much of muscle in just four weeks. You really made a great job.

  18. Hello Tim or anyone else who can help,

    I’m a bit confused. There’s first of all Tim’s workout which is consisted of 8 exercixes where he performed all these 8 exercises in each workout and he worked out twice a week. Then the book talks about OCCAM’s protocol which is consisted of Workout A with 2 exercies and Workout B with 2 different exercises. So, which is the one I should follow if I want to gain a lot of muscles?

    Also, can someone define what “lifting to failure” mean? After doing a bit of research on the internet, I read some guys say they pushed so hard they felt dizzy, or wanted to vomit, and the muscles got so sore have a hard time lifting their arms / walking over the next few days. Does it mean that if I didn’t get these types of post-workout physical respones then I have not pushed myself hard enough?



    1. Genuine failure means that on the last rep you couldn’t move the weight another fraction of an inch if your life depended on it. You will feel yourself straining hard against the weight. Hold it, keep trying to get it to keep moving again until you have no choice but the weight sinks back and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

      My personal trainer a few years back told me that if I didn’t throw up occasionally then I wasn’t giving it my all. I chose to not work hard enough to vomit, still made much better than average gains.

      Remember to keep breathing while you do this. Otherwise internal pressure inside the body can build up to dangerous levels and interfere with the heart. As for guys getting dizzy, personally I would stop my workout immediately and seek medical advice if the dizziness didn’t pass quickly. It could indicate a dangerous rise in blood pressure, for example. (I’m not a doctor but I’ve done some reading too, like you have).

    2. Lewis,

      Tim recommends Occam’s protocol which is a simplified version of the Geek to Freak for most trainees esp. beginners to HIT. The principles are the same.

      As for the failure, I agree with Nick. I’d just like to add that you should hold the weight at the point that you can’t lift any higher, for 10-20 seconds, then spend another 10-20+ seconds lowering the weight VERY slowly, millimeter by millimeter. Preferably use a timer as it’s easy to lose count of the time while you’re pushing hard. Remember that it’s the last rep that really counts. The rest are just a warm-up.

      Also, if you youtube “body by science”, you should be able to find some examples of trainees pushing to complete failure (although the cadence is 10/10 in that program and the rest between the exercises is not 3 minutes.)

      As for the breathing, I suggest that you just keep your mouth open and maybe relax your face while concentrating on pushing the weight as hard as you can, as if you had a gun to your head.

  19. Nick / Farid,

    Thanks for your help. Will give it a try.

    A follow-up question. I read about muscle hypertrophy, which is the increase in size of muscle cells. Presumably this is what I want to achieve in order to gain more muscles in a particular part of my body.

    Is muscle soreness the day after a workout a required symptom for hypertrophy? In other words, if I feel no pain, then there’s no gain?


  20. The whole four hour a week concept is very enticing for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to train like I would want. I have a question. Once I have reached a desired weight, I wouldn’t want to get any bigger. How would I be able to still train and stay healthy but, not get out of hand?

  21. Hi Tim,

    in the book you wrote that you have trained for 4 months, how much muscle have you gained in these months? I want to now what like the results are in the following months.

    Sorry, I’m from Austria and I am not good at english. I hope you now what i mean.



  22. Dear Tim,

    You helped change my life! I didn’t get your results but I didn’t need to, I got my results. Better results than I ever thought possible. I suspended my disbelief and just DID WHAT YOU TOLD ME TO DO as an experiment to see how well it worked. I am amazed at how rapidly my body changed with what seems to me to be very little actual work. Its just like you said, once you see how easy this is you can transfer it to any other part of your life. Its not just my body, but my whole life has changed so swiftly my head is still spinning and your book was an integral part of that. So I just wanted to thank you for helping to pave my way to a better life.

    Thank you so much!

  23. To gain 1 pound of muscle you have to take in approximately 3,500 calories more than your body uses, and hope that all 3,500 of those calories go to muscle building, and not fat. So, to gain 34 pounds in one month you’ll have to take in an additional 119,000 calories above what your body needs for maintenance and, again, hope that none of it turns to fat. To do this in one month you will need to consume a whopping ~3838.7 calories a day! And, that’s not total either! That’s in addition to all the calories required to go about your daily business of breathing, walking, exercising, etc. For a guy who weighs 155lbs and is moderately active, your calorie requirement to MAINTAIN 155lbs is ~2,078.

    So take your required maintenance intake of 2,078cal, and add the hefty 3,838cal, and you will need to consume 5,916 calories A DAY to gain 34lbs in a month! And you’re telling me that none of those calories went to fat? That in fact you lost fat while doing this? Please sir, publish your findings in a medical journal and get the Nobel Prize you deserve.

    Professional bodybuilders (the people who gain muscle for a living) usually eat 500-1000 calories more a day than their maintenance requirements. Also, these guys are on stuff that changes their body chemistry to optimize muscle growth. They also work out more than 4 hours a week. You should become a strength and bodybuilding coach if you can successfully eat nearly 6000 calories a day at a starting weight of 152 and not gain a pound of fat! Forget writing books! You should be hosting “The Biggest Loser” with the kind of results you claim to get with people! Jillian Michaels can’t even compare!

  24. Chris,

    You’re confusing the calories in a pound of fat with the calories in a pound of muscle. HUGE difference between the two.

    You might want to actually learn something about this stuff before commenting on it.

  25. Hey Tim and readers, read 4HB and have gotten a ton of value out of both this workout and the slow-carb diet. Great stuff!

    Right now I’m actually looking for a slower strength building workout program, one that takes place over the course of 8 to 12 weeks instead of 4 to 6, and that allows me to keep the same workout days every week, since my work schedule has become super rigid.

    Is there one that you guys would recommend? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.



    1. If you wan more strength gain and less workout variables. Do 5 reps of 5 sets and eat the slow carb diet. 3 days a week. 1 day of rest.

  26. Hey Tim,

    I was wondering if you could help me. I can’t tell if my muscles are failing when I do my excercises.

    Yesterday I did a quick workout of dumbbell bench press, dumbbell rows and shoulder press (with dumbbells). I did one set of all of these excercises and was able to do about 7 reps for the first two and 4 for the last one. Today, I’m not sore and I haven’t taken any l-glutamine.

    How do I know if my muscles have failed? Is it when I can’t push any further during a rep?


    1. yep, that’s correct. It’s when you simply can’t move the weight anymore, and you can’t even begin another rep (or finish the last one), . That’s failure

  27. Yep he certainly grew very well, even with the differences in distance from the camera, tan sprayed and shaven in the after shots.

    One thing you forgot to put into the equation, is that if you haven’t trained for a long time, (if ever) then anything thing you do in the gym will promote rapid growth (for a couple of months or so, before you hit a plateau).

    Though it’s doubfull you can grow that much, that fast, without a smart routine.

    But not being in the gym and starting fresh is definitely one of the main contributors to growing that fast.

  28. Wow, is it really possible? I should let my cousin read this one. 🙂 He goes to gym for like 3 times a week and always babbling about how hot he can be in the near future. hahahah! maybe this one will help him. 🙂

    Thank you!

  29. Shane, you and everyone else are ignorant for pre-judging this program without trying it. Perhaps you should face the facts. If you are upset that it took so long to gain muscle in your own program, perhaps you should re-evaluate your own, broken routine that is most likely built on shoddy misinformation. Im excited about this program. After have never been able to “lose weight” through conventional means. It always came back because I was ignorant of what I was eating, and when I was eating it! After using the slow carb diet and Occam’s Protocol I have lost 34 pounds since sept 2011(228 down to 195). 28+ pounds were lost in the first 6 weeks. My fiance DEFINITELY notices, and everyone I work with keeps commenting on the new me. 195 looks pretty good on a 6’3 frame.

    Honestly, Tim Ferris has changed my life for the better by cutting through the misinformation and ACTUALLY finding what works well through his individual scientific method of testing. If he says thge slow carb would work- IT WORKS but requires discipline. The same, by association can be said of the Geek to Freak section.

    Anyone, with rare exception can create these results with discipline. I found my discipline through the unhappiness with how I looked and with my “Harajaku” (spelling) moment. Perhaps the real doubt in most peoples hearts stems from their own lack of self control and discipline. Anything is possible with focus. I am a believer based on physical proof. Don’t mind the noise Tim, you are on to something here. Succes is a choice we all make. I will buy every book you write. You have impacted my life more than any Physical Education teacher, Personal Trainer, or Nutritionist ever has. You have taught me things that our educational system lacks here in America- Food and Nutritional Science. Not only am I physically different but my change in food intake has several other pleasant side effects. You have more than likely added years to my life also.

    I start the test today for 4 weeks of growth. Ill report back in 4 weeks. BOOM

  30. Of course this is BS. I’m not sure why nobody has pointed out the simple math involved. Let’s say he started at 16.7% body fat at 180lbs. After gaining 34lbs of muscle, to be 12.2% bodyfat would mean a weight of 250lbs. The before and after pics don’t substantiate a weight gain of 70lbs, not to mention the feasibility of actually gaining that much weight in a month.

    1. I’m not sure you could even achieve that much muscle using steroids. Still, this will be a fun site to show people as examples of the kind of things not to believe on the internet and how common sense can reveal frauds.

  31. Hey Ferriss, long-time fan! Your books basically saved my life.

    I’ve been doing some experiments with body recompositioning and neuroscience;

    Where did you do your Geek to Freak-project? Some place sunny?

    Also, in which areas (geographical) have you experienced the best strength gains? Are these possibly the areas where you’ve also experienced consistently high moods?

    I’m testing a hypothesis about one of the fundamental neurotransmitters and it’s impact on body, mood, confidence among other things.

  32. Hi Tim!

    A question that I can’t seem to find the answer for, you’re the only person I know of that could provide me an answer. I would be very grateful if you could answer this.

    Alpha Lipoic Acid.

    I know insulin blocks HGH, but what effect does ALA have? (given that it mimicks insulin).

    Does it block insulin receptors and therefore have the same effect?

    I ask because I wanted to use it postworkout with carbs, to boost glycogen synthesis whilst maintaining the HGH boost which comes postworkout. (Because I am 17 and do not want to lower HGH production)

    I assume the effect on HGH is the same at all other times of the day?

    I’m quite informed on this kind of stuff as I have read your whole book. So don’t be afraid to use fancy terminology.

    I really hope you can answer this, it’s the only question I’m asking (out of all the ones I have from the book, because I know you don’t have the time to answer them all.

    Thank you so much in advance – Dom

    P.S. Awesome book by the way!!!! Changed my life.

    1. Dom S.

      I believe the purpose of ALA is the same as citrus acid and other acids before big meals; inducing secretion of somatostatin by lowering pH by ingesting acidic foods. Somatostatin, in turn, inhibits the release of insulin, making fat-retention from all the excess carbs/fat smaller.

      I don’t think a little insulin will modulate your growth hormone a lot, since insulin is required to lower your blood sugar and retain any nutrient, even amino acids in the form of muscle.

      I’d not worry about lowering your GH, but keep ingesting ALA before high-carb/fat meals. As Tim says, it blunts the insulin-response and stabilizes the blood sugar; high blood sugar = lower growth-hormone.

      In my opinion, keep ingesting ALA before cheat-meals. Protein-synthesis is highest not immediately post-workout, but studies show it’s higher 24h+ post-workout than 6h post-workout.

    2. Dom

      I just kept reading a bit and probably found what you were looking for:

      GLUT-4 which transports glucose into muscle is insulin-regulated.

      Inhibiting insuling, by taking ALA, will inhibit GLUT-4.

      Less of your PW-carbs will be retained as glycogen.

      IMO: Post-workout, feel free to eat those carbs, GLUT-4 transports it, retained as glycogen. Skip ALA, it inhibits insulin, thus inhibiting glut-4.

      OBS: Given wikipedia isn’t bullshitting me! 😉

  33. I’ve been on this diet and workout regimen for 4 days now. Gained 4 pounds. Hopefully it is all muscle! Hah. I’m doing it almost exactly the same as Tim. I am doing full body workouts during each workout. I do about 10 lifts to workout each muscle group. I’m using the same supplements, excluding bodyquick. Didn’t feel like paying an extra 50 dollars. I’ll post later the final results and all muscle gain+plus gains in my lifts.

    1. Also, where most people fail to gain weight is either rest, eating, or just plain working out incorrectly. You should be able to gain if you do things correctly. I am eating much more food than I thought I needed in order to gain weight. At timesyou will probably be eating even if you aren’t hungry. You also need to rest multiple days in between workouts. 3 days between workouts is definitely alright. And as you grow, it is important that you increase the rest time, as Tim said. A large issue I noticed from my friends, is how they workout. They actually workout often, and they still don’t understand true failure. If your muscles don’t feel like they are on fire as you are lifting.. Then you aren’t doing the workout correctly, and your workout will be pointless. Muscle failure is essential for this regimen to work.

  34. hey, sorry for the question about 80/10/10 🙂 I bought a fourhourbody in addition to 4hww and it answered all the questions. we (the readers) are very lucky to have you.

    i was from a well off family, gorgeous, and happy when i was 16. then we moved to the US. situation changed. i am now 23, broke, alone, and 25 pounds heavier. Could not be more lucky discover your exact how-to on all subjects important at 23 yo instead of 63 🙂 yay. i shall share the first results in 6 and 12 months 🙂

    Thanks, Tim.

    Also, your pricings on amazon are incredible. I bought both books for twice as much in Barns and Noble but that’s because I could absolutely not wait for it, so I’m happy 🙂

  35. When ferriss will be 60, although he would have made a ton of money, will regret why did he do the nasty things to his own body. The followers of his book will feel the same. These are utterly unnatural methods, which can only be expected to drain out the body.good luck to those who think his book makes any sense!

    1. You never know how people will feel…

      And why do you think the methods are unnatural?

      Its eating, exercise and bio-chemistry. Not really any magic or voodoo; Tim just highlights the little things that have the most impact/effect.

      Tim is consistent and hey, the book makes a lot more sense the most politicians… 😉

      The method is really Brilliant, and Tim has a very admirable way of thinking.

  36. Omg, you are so full of shit, it is IMPOSSIBLE to gain 34 lbs of muscle in 4 weeks. Let me repeat that, IMPOSSIBLE, not even with all the GH and roids in the world. I have been training for 5 years now, so i know a little bit, 185cm, 88kg, 6% bf.

    This is not about “hating”, or being jealous or any of that shit. I have above average genetics, i can gain muscle faster than most people, but everything i know about bodybuilding, nutrition and chemistry says that it is just plain IMPOSSIBLE. Ask any serious bodybuilder, from the home trainer, to Ronnie Coleman, all of them will tell you IT CAN NOT BE DONE. It is as simple as that, you mind as well start trying to defy gravity, it goes against the laws of nature. Anyone making such outrageous claims can not be trusted, only the ignorant would buy into this crap.

    1. Sounds pretty crazy, eh? You need to keep in mind that Tim was recovering lost muscle mass, not building new muscle mass.

      One of our Bony to Beastly guys, Obe, just gained 26 pounds of muscle in 6 weeks. He started off skinny and having never been able to gain weight in the past. He responded extremely well to finally eating and training properly for muscle growth. And Obe’s just a regular dude.

      My incredibly tiny roommate gained 22 pounds of muscle in 4 weeks when he first started out.

      If you train and eat incredibly smart it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you’re either somewhat of a beginner or recovering lost muscle mass.

  37. Those shots are clever camera tricks. I’d be amazed if they were even shot on different days. He shaved, got a spray tan, and flexed in the after shots. The before shots used only one light source, whereas the the after used several. Not to mention he is very clearly standing closer/farther away in some shots for greater effect.

    As for stacking on 34 lbs in a week, it’s impossible. It takes 500 calories a day to gain a pound a WEEK. To gain 34 pounds he’d have to eat 6000+ calories a day.

  38. Tim is claiming four weeks, not one.

    Also, the 500 cal/day for a week is for the energy stored in a pound of FAT, not muscle.

    A pound of relatively lean ground beef (90/10) is less than 800 calories.

    Obviously, there is also a cost associated with synthesizing this, and this is a huge increase in lean body mass (the most muscle I’ve ever seen someone gain consistently over several weeks without drugs is around 2 lbs/week) but if you’re going to criticize at least know what you’re talking about first.

  39. Jake,

    I knew Arthur Jones personally and have heard about the Colorado Experiment directly from him and discussed it with others who worked at Nautilus at the time. Bill Starr is mistaken in claiming the Colorado Experiment was a hoax. Not only does that article get various facts wrong, but Arthur was entirely up front with people about the circumstances under which the experiment was conducted.

  40. 3500 calories per pound of muscle times his 34 pounds over 28 days equates to 4250 calories per day plus average BMR for a 146 lb male of 200 brings him up to 6250 clean calories per day. Good luck eating that, much less losing fat while doing say. i call BS.

    1. “3500 calories per pound of muscle times his 34 pounds over 28 days equates to 4250 calories per day plus average BMR for a 146 lb male of 200 brings him up to 6250 clean calories per day. Good luck eating that, much less losing fat while doing say. i call BS.”

      What’s BS is your calculation, there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat not muscle so you have based your calculation on faulty data.

  41. 90% muscle memory or you took some of those nice pink Anabol 5’s along with your weight training, which one was it?

  42. It would be awesome if I could achieve this kind of results within few weeks. Been go to gym and trying to build up my body, but yet to see significant results, perhaps there’re some part miss out, especially my meal. Gotta work harder to achieve this goal.

  43. Well, there goes all that I’ve ever learned about diets and bodybuilding. If you can achieve this in four weeks then, my 4 years in the gym must have been a waste. I guess the only way to see if this is really true is to try it for myself and compare results

  44. Hmmm. I guess the only way to find out if this is possible is to actually try it and see what happens.

    I wonder how many people who posted here dismissing it haven’t even tried it. Why is this such a strange concept to people?

    The only way I’ll know if it works, is to see if it works.

    1. It was a great read.. and especially enjoyed the comments. You might have set some world records in regards to putting on muscle mass. 😉

    2. And how many people posting here claiming there were going to try it never came back to post about their wonderful results?

      1. There’s not a whole bunch coming back to say it didn’t work, are there. And seeing as how most people love to complain about things like that, that ought to answer your question. But in case it doesn’t, I’m 8 days in and so far, up by around 7 lbs. Well on track to get results very similar to Tim’s by the end of the month.

        How about you try it yourself, and when you see how well it works you can come back and tell the world 🙂

  45. Hey have a question for anyone who knows about the supplements required of this regimen.

    So right now I am day 2 into my ‘Geek to freak’ experiment. I have all the supplements listed and am using them as Tim did, EXCEPT that the N.O. Explode I bought. I bought the decaf version (since caffeine has been shown in some studies to reduce the effects of creatine.) My question is, aside from normal creatine cycling, should I be not taking some of these supplements on certain days? I just don’t want to overdo anything or want my body to adjust to them so they become less effective. So what’s the deal? In the book Tim says that ALA should only be taken 6 days a week for 6 weeks I believe but what about Chrome Mate or a Decaf N.O. Explode. Please help we out with this!

  46. Don’t bother with the N.O. Xplode, it’s a waste of money. See

    “At present, there is no research published in peer-reviewed journals to support the assertion that an increase in nitric oxide levels promotes greater muscle protein synthesis or improves muscle strength. There is also no evidence that the arginine alpha-ketoglutarate in “nitric oxide” supplements have any effect on nitric oxide levels in muscles.”

    1. Thanks for that tip but I take the N.O. Explode exclusively for it’s creatine matrix. And even if the Arginine or Citruline or any other ‘ine’ ending amino acid in it doesn’t effect muscle growth, it does give this non caffeine drinker a nice kick in the morning to get stuff going. Any insights into the things I was enquiring about?

  47. Hi Tim,

    I read the additional explanation of your High Intensity Training, where is said, how to REALLY perform one set to muscular failure. Unfortunately I can´t find it anymore…

    Could you please send me the link!

    Thanks, and best regards


  48. Will sex affect weight gain? did you during the 4 weeks of training have sex?

    I really need to know cuz i have a girlfriend and its really hard to resist. I havnt gained weight could it be the sex?

    1. Your girlfriend said to tell you no, because only a minute or two of additional physical activity a few times a week isn’t going to burn that many calories or lead to overtraining.

  49. this is the H I T S system. it does WORK. i have researched this. you can find on the web, look up hits training system, it has produced world winning body builders. like anything in life YOU HAVE TO DO IT TO GET RESULTS, but you will get bigger faster when done RIGHT!!! you are exercising the larger muscel groups, and pushing your body to grow!!! read it on the web, then do it, JUST FOLLOW THE PLAN and it will work your friend ed GOD BLESS

  50. Hi Tim

    Very interesting book

    I like the 6-pack exercises because you need no machines and you can do without the Swiss ball when you happen not to have it with you.

    It is very convenient when you have an agenda that prevents you to go to the gym as frequently as needed, plus you can practice anywhere even while traveling.

    For people not being total geeks, whose objective is not to become a freak but just gain reasonably more muscle, would you suggest a set of exercises in the same spirit (multi-joint exercises, elicit a maximal hormonal response, …) even if less efficient yet with the constraint of using no machine nor tool (except anything you could have in your luggage) ?

  51. Hello there readers. I was just wondering If one could do traditional weight lifting technicquesw instead of using machines. I mean why not use squats, regular deadlifts, pull ups (or as a replacement the pull down machine), bench presses, a complete core routine, the dips, and the yates bent row, and in aditttion overhead/military presses. For what I personally believe, this could be the exercises that hit the most multy-joint movements used in everyday life. Of coarse, the arte other things I like to use to emphasise a few part like the curls and exercises that hit the triceps as well as bent foward rear delt flies to get the real delts good. A total of 11 exercises that I believe will suit me the most due to my current out of shape physique. And of course add in the running, nutyrriton and proper rest. Anyway will doing this 11 exercises, training the whole body, 3 times a week, get me results in the long run. By the way I am aware that exercises have ev olve in order to keep the body challenged and make more gains both in strenght and in cardiovascular capacity

    1. Tim’s book answers all your questions, Jon. If you don’t already have a copy it is the best investment you could make for understanding how to do a really efficient workout that gets top results quickly.

  52. This was a very interesting article may I mention. Thanks for all the insight.. I need all I can get being skinny and all…lol.. My weight as of today is 126 and it seems like it never goes up… no matter what i eat… it may go down a couple but never up…. I wonder is it because i don’t eat those mom meals like i use to??? Meaning like those morning noon and dinner meals… I look at my high school pics and see weight on my face and all over… now its skinny athletic and im in my early thirties now… I feel great but just don’t know if its a healthy weight for my age… my guess is “no”…Thats why im glad to find sites like these to help me on my weight gain journey…I also heard ensure is a great supplement for gaining… Im in the mist of trying that now

  53. Did you measure your becepts while they were on a “pump” both before and after? Or did you just have a “pump” just when you measured them after?

  54. You shaved your torso!!! LOL!!! Thanks for the advice. I bought your book and I have been ding this for a month and a half, I gained 32lb of pure muscle.

  55. Hey Tim,

    Really thank you for the tips on repetitions and protein intake! I’ve been adding that to my workout regiment and I’ve gained 3 extra pounds 🙂

    I’ve also used some tips and techniques from With these tips I’ve gained an extra 11lbs of muscle and I couldn’t be happier!

    Thank you Tim and I will be purchasing the 4-hour Body and I will let you know about my progress 🙂

  56. The best thing I’ve picked up from this (and what was found in the four hour body) is the slower rep cadence.

    While I believe in faster reps for developing power, I’ve found incorporating the slower rep cadence allowed me to push past some plateaus I had reached.

    The best results I’ve seen have come from warming up with explosive movements (high jumps, explosive pushups or pullups), a few heavy sets done explosively (not to failure) for 1-3 reps, and then backing off to a 3-5 second rep cadence set done to failure in 6-10 reps.

  57. I used to be really skinny and I struggled for years to gain weight and no matter how much I ate I couldn’t figure out what was going wrong? after much frustration and lots of research I realized I simply wasn’t eating enough since I wasn’t counting my macros and I was totally eating the wrong foods.

    I read an article online and followed it’s guide step-by-step and I have not turned back since. Results were excellent I went from 120lbs all the way to 170 while maintaining 8-14% bodyfat. Never Give Up!

  58. I’m doing to the F to G exercises and eating a good amount of protein every day but I am not sticking to the low carb diet very well and I don’t want to. Tim, If I continue to do the exercises exactly the way you show it with the 5 second cadence to failure, should I still see some results anyway, even though I eat some carbs throughout the day?

  59. Hi Tim,

    After a month of slow-carbing and Occam’s Protocol exercises minus the supplements, I’ve gone from 68 kgs to 60 kgs in exactly a month. After the binge days, I gain 2 kgs. Every time. Still, I find the amount of weight I’m losing frightening and and if I go down to the 50’s I’m going back to adding carbs to my diet on regular non-cheat days. Don’t get me wrong, I can finally see my abs (cat vomit and planking works like a charm), but I feel I’m going to disappear soon!!

    How can I tweak the Slow-Carb Diet if I just want to be a larger fellow and not wither away? Could I just add carbs for breakfast and not have them for lunch/dinner? Or maybe have two cheat days? Would that make sense?

    Hope you, or someone else can answer my post.

    All my best and thank you for your insightful books! Huge fan!


  60. Quick question, what if instead of dividing one day for bench, one day for squats and one for day for deadlift/barbell rows. How about doing all those exercises on the same day three times a week. What would be the dangers?

  61. Does anyone know how many rest days Tim had between lifts during this Geek to Freak experiment? Was it the same as the rest days he described in occams protocal?


    – jack

    1. @Bill

      And no-one ever put on muscle by making negative posts. Try this thing yourself.

      And for the record, there is enough information here, for free, for anyone who’s serious. Tim does’t need the money, he got rich from his previous businesses and another bestselling book years ago.

  62. This is a scam. It is physiologically impossible to gain more than 1 lb of muscle a week. If this was real, body builders that put years into body building would be much bigger with the 1000s of hours they put in to the gym professionally.

  63. Tim — what are your thoughts on recent trends on Carb Backloading? Have noticed a significant increase in muscle mass and energy without any fat gain following this method for the past 4 weeks.

  64. Ridiculous. This is a fairly active, young man. I’ve seen a million of these so-called advice columns and youtube videos on weight loss and muscle gain. When one of you can consistently take non-active women, who are between the ages of 40 – 60, who have at least 40 plus pounds of extra body weight for their size and help them lose the weight without drugs and keep it off – then I might believe you.

    As long as you use a younger, healthy, active male as the example, your system is bunk. Men can lose weight the moment they cut out junk food and start to move around.

    1. you should look at his page about the slow carb diet it has worked for lots of women and he has before and after pictures on his site as well

    2. MG,

      I’ve been training people for two decades now using similar workouts (brief, high intensity strength training workouts, twice weekly, no additional “cardio”) and have worked with many middle aged and older women who were able to lose fat and keep it off without drugs doing this as long as they changed their diet.

  65. Very interesting and inspirational. I like the post and I always follow this tip: “Focus on no more than 4-7 multi-joint exercises”

  66. This blog has been up a long while, but as I have read through it contemplating wether to try this experiment or not many others may still, so some of you might find this interesting. I commenced this experiment after 2 weeks off doing nothing over Christmas and had gone from 88kg pre-Christmas to 91kg post (Probably important to note here I fit in the Endomorph category and gain weight easily). I basically stuck to a low carb diet during this with increased portions and some added carbs. The only nutrition in addition to this was a simple protein powder which I only consumed for the second month (half before/half post workouts). Also I had done no heavy weight based exercises in over a year due to a shoulder injury.

    I used the Machine workouts A & B but using smith machines mostly and after the first session added chrunches+prone holds to Workout B and Kettlebell Swings to Workout A. My overall result after 2 Months (7 Complete sessions of both workouts) is Weight from 91kg&17.7%BF to 94kg&18%BF, about 2kg gain in lean body mass, 3cm increase arms, 7cm increase legs, 2cm decrease on waist. Strength wise the increase from start weight (70% of Max) was: Sholders=35kg>55kg, Back=60kg>85kg, Chest=45kg>75kg, Legs=110kg>190kg!! (go-go gadget legs).

    Did I experience the same level of gains ? No. but honestly Tim’s results are freakishly good!

    Was it a waste of time ? No. Overall considering the time I put in v’s results I got out I think it was a successful experiment, I expect that if I continued longer I would see more gains (Have to change to more speed based training for sport)

    Would I recommend it to a friend ? Yes. Especially trying to get someone started for the first time or back into it after time off like I had as it is simple, time efficient and effective in muscle gain.

    Overall I would say give it a go, the more you can follow the timing and nutrition to the letter the better the results will be. I plan to use it in the future as a bulking routine (post breaks) and a precursor to high rep based routines.

  67. Awesome tips and goes to show what can be achieved with focus and determination combined with Science.

    Employing the mind by adding some visualisation would also add further icing to the cake.

  68. I’m always amazed by the things you come up with! Very interesting that the body responds in this way… I’m sure you’ve shocked fitness trainer everywhere!

  69. Tim, all the bashing aside, I really appreciate the discipline it takes to do something like you have. I’ve been considering starting to put on some muscle bulk, and you may have me at a tipping point. Really cool ideas, thanks!

  70. Dude you guys have got to be kidding me. Are people really saying “This is the typical “I can’t do that so it must be a lie”‘?! It’s just NOT possible to gain that much muscle.

  71. Bought the book, read the blog, searched the comments – one question remains before I try this experiment for a month: Is there a best/recommended method to determine starting weights for this program? There was the bit used for Occam’s protocol, but that utilized multiple sets – is there a similar mechanism to better determine a good starting weight for a single set at a 5/5 cadence? Considering the infrequency of the training I’d hate to squander the first session or two. Thanks.

    1. Brad, in reality, Occam´s is sort of a “prelude” or “refined version” of Geek to Freak (both are one set only). For this reason, the method to determine starting weights is the same of Occam´s. Hope it help.

  72. 5 second cadence? Specific # of reps? Studies have proven slower movements do not result in greater effect. Specific rep numbers and sets? There is no magic # , each person is different. Try researching FACTS from scientific studies which aren’t selling something. Bottom line, there is no substitute for desire, determination and dedication.

    As for this guy, so he got a little bigger and bloated and fatter. I wouldn’t take advice from someone who increased their waist size over 4 inches in 4 weeks.

    I train and am a trainer. My last client took 1st place OVERALL. Its simple in concept but hard in execution. Stop looking for a workout secret and start actually working out!

  73. Sorry I don’t believe it. As an unnatural recreational lifter i know that 30 lbs can take me as long as 8-10 weeks. 30 lbs naturally would be about 6-10 months or even more. There is no shortcut to dedication and hard work. Its just mainstream media contributing to the number of fat Americans. Gaining and keeping muscle natural or unnatural requires a lot of time and perseverance. There’s nothing easy about it. I dont doubt that this man gained 30 lbs but to flaunt that he did it in 4 weeks is ludicrous. Don’t give in to these claims guys. These types of body transformations are undoubtedly achievable but TAKE TIME.

    1. You don’t have to believe it. But you’re fooling yourself if you don’t try it.

      I got 10 pounds in 5 weeks. Spent 15 minutes twice a week in the gym. Not 30 pounds, but I didn’t need 30. And I’m maintaining it with 15 minutes in the gym once a week and a normal (healthy) diet.

      If however you like spending hours a week in the gym, that’s a different style and you’re welcome to it.

      I’m happy. Thank you Tim.

  74. Muscle growth is one thing and the result are impressive but to say you went from a 40 short to a 44 reg in a suit is ridiculous unless your muscle gain also helped you grow several inches taller. I am a professional Tailor.

  75. Ok check it.. I agree with most of the comments on this post for one reason only… THERE’S SOMETHING FOR SALE!! If this was just a forum I may have believed this guy put on 30+ lbs of lean muscle in 4 weeks lmao… Reminds me of all the guys in the gym walking around thinking they’re fooling everybody, as if its not noticeable they’re on steroids… And this has nothing to do with hating on anyone, it’s about reality.. Although everyone is different, there are just some things that are physically IMPOSSIBLE.. I am a certified nutritionist and trainer aside of the fact I’ve been weight training for over 10 years NATURALLY… I started at 135 lbs and am now 170 lbs.. Took me 10+ years to put on 35 lbs of lean muscle while keeping my abs all throughout the process. And for the ppl that may say its cause I don’t push hard enough; you try doing 50 wide grip pull ups or 150 push ups. My favorite part is how he only worked out 4 hours a week aaaaaahahahahahahahahahahahaha this guy is a joke.. If you’re reading this Tim Ferris, I challenge you to any physical activity of your choice! It’s just frustrating watching ppl get scammed based on their insecurities.. Everybody wants the fast and easy way out but unfortunately with fitness t doesn’t work that way.. You have to PUT IN WORK!! And TIME. PERIOD.

    1. With a rep range between 50 – 150 it’s not surprising you find it difficult to gain muscle ;).

      As usual it’s a case of ‘because i can’t do it, it has to be impossible’.

      I experience similar muscle gains to tim when I first started weight training but over a three to four month period, using an abbreviated whole body routine 3 days a week, I realised later I would have gained faster if i have exercised far less, If only I had known it was impossible to gain at such a rate, fortunately I did not..

      Of course you will refuse to believe this because it would mean you had misspent the best part of 10 years and you’re not the ‘expert’ you think you are.

  76. DAYUM!

    I wish the photos were equidistant. It’s hard to compare them because they’re taken from different vantage points.