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

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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:

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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!

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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

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1,386 Replies to “From Geek to Freak: How I Gained 34 lbs. of Muscle in 4 Weeks”

  1. In argumentation theory, an argumentum ad populum (Latin for “appeal to the people”) is a fallacious argument that concludes that a proposition is true because many or most people believe it: “If many believe so, it is so.”

    This type of argument is known by several names,[1] including appeal to the masses, appeal to belief, appeal to the majority, appeal to democracy, appeal to popularity, argument by consensus, consensus fallacy, authority of the many, and bandwagon fallacy (also known as a vox populi),[2] and in Latin as argumentum ad numerum (“appeal to the number”), and consensus gentium (“agreement of the clans”). It is also the basis of a number of social phenomena, including communal reinforcement and the bandwagon effect. The Chinese proverb “three men make a tiger” concerns the same idea.

    Just because you disagree or think its impossible doesn’t make it so. Its unpopular opinion being reinforced. Hence denial and anger, which is the first stage of acceptance.

    I went from 168 lbs to 185 lbs in 30 days. And I did it half heatedly

    I changed the cadence of my reps to 5-5 and ate like a horse including the supplement stack of Alphalipoic acid and other supplements mentioned in the 4 hour body. Got good sleep and timed my workouts well.

    It was solid muscle gain as my BF % stayed the same.

    YOU HAVE TO DO THE FUCKING WORK. AND EAT.

    1. Hi, this sounds encouraging. How many cals did you eat daily? 2×30 a week and no further training? I know your post is old but I’d really appreciate a reply. Thanks

  2. What kind of adverse effects would running 3-4 times per week while training for a marathon have on this strategy?

  3. Should I combine the geek to freak exercises with the Kiwi’s perfect bum A and B workouts totaling 4 workouts a week or do I just stick to one? This is for an 8-week bikini body (NPC competition).

  4. I need to borrow you for a month! I get off work at 4:30. Meet me at the gym at 4:31 (That’s where I am employed👍)

    [Moderator: Street address removed]

    Tyndall AFB, FL 32403

    Tomorrow would be fine👍

  5. The moment I read, “4 hours a week,” my jaw dropped. You can count on this “lass” taking your advice. Kudos, by the way!

  6. Timi, I love you, your podcast, ur tv show and your books, but to gain 34 lbs in a month with 4 hours of training is just not true. Im trying to understand how to not think this is just big BS but I really need help with this. Nobody who has ever been to a gym, much less people who works out for life could possibly believe this. I think your credibility is tremendously important, especially for those of us who follow you and read your material and buy your books.

    1. Hey Victor,

      As someone who has 10+ years lifting and most of those being at 200+ I can agree and sympathize with the skepticism towards this thought process. I can neither speak for or against his results, but anytime I find something hard to believe I try to prove/disprove it. I started this routine this week, first workout today actually. The muscle depletion and fatigue is very real, and I have experienced a ravenous hunger all day since. So higher metabolism is absolutely a result, jury is still out on the gainz. An interesting read on the mentioned “Colorado Experiment” is “Colorado Experiment: Fact or Fiction” by T-Nation a strength and fitness site. Happy learnings.

      -Zak

  7. When you took your supplements, listed under “How did I do it” in the Geek to Freak chapter, were you only taking the supplements on workout days, or daily even on rest days?

  8. Amazing article and also great suggestions about muscles growth. It may be true that should you want to increase muscle expansion, you need a mix of healthy ingesting, supplements, and also a training program designed specifically for build muscle size. Thanks for discussing valuable information regarding muscle growing.

  9. When doing the workout I’m blacking out / getting migraines during the incline bench on the slow reps. Anyone else have this problem?

  10. Hey Tim,

    Firstly, thanks for writing all your books, you’ve had a more significant effect on my life than you could possibly imagine.

    I’ve been slow carbing past few months and I’ve lost 25lbs so far as a vegetarian, which is clutch!!

    About to start the geek to freak protocol but I recently came accross Dr.T Collin Campbell’s study linking casein to cancer. Is Casein required? Can I substitue this with whey protein isolate?

    Also not certain you still respond to this thread (last response was 2014) :p

    Thanks for your advice and time 🙂

  11. Hey Tim,

    Just wondering what your maintenance looked like after finishing the protocol? Was it fairly easily maintained? Also, prior to doing the protocol what did you training look like? Lastly, what was your training age when started doing this?

    In the name of being scientific, I’m just wondering if any of those variables created a bit of a sling shot for your results. Very impressive either way!

  12. Hi Tim, over the years I think i bought almost all of your books of different topics, now, after having trained myself to a flat stomach I stumbled across this online post and read the chapters in the book. From your other books I know your stuff works and I’m the guy who usually reads and tries without asking but one thing I’d like to have confirmed that i have understood it correctly before risking to lose my hard work invested so far 😉 So, if i (160lbs) eat 5000 cals of macaroni and tuna for a month with 2×30 minutes of training a week without any extra training/cardio, i will not get fat and maybe even lose some more fat? Usually I would not believe that but if you say so i’ll give it a shot, cause i know your other stuff worked as well. Thanks!

  13. Hello Tim and other readers,

    First off, I have red the 4-hour body and I just started the slow carb diet to life a healthier life. I am 24 years old and weight only 132 pounds.

    I would’t mind gaining some weight, eighter muscle or fat.

    So my questions is;

    Does the rule of not eating white carbs only apply when you want to lose weight? Or are there other benefits to not eating them

    Because there’s this ‘myth’ that you need to gain weight with carbs in order to start gaining muscle.

    Thanks for the response(s) in advance.

    Peter.

  14. Hey Tim. I’m a week into my weight gaining program and it’s unfortunate that I couldn’t have timed it any better. The gyms are closed and I’m left with no equipment and no motivation. Any tips or tricks on how I can still put on without the use of gym equipment?

  15. Hey Tim, I guess that this is because this post is old, but I think the way that you instantly related weight loss with women was a bit fucked up. I know plenty of girls that are trying to gain some weight and others that are brainwashed into thinking that they should be as thin as possible when they are already completely fine.