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

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 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.

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1,387 Replies to “From Geek to Freak: How I Gained 34 lbs. of Muscle in 4 Weeks”

  1. Your claims are laughable Tim, anyone who knows anything about physiology understands you cant gain that much muscle that fast. Even on certain steroids, you could maybe gain 15-20lbs max that fast but it would be mostly water retention anyways. I guess a sucker is born every minute…

  2. Ive written Dr Plato about your claims and asked her for verification. I’m sure she wants her professional reputation tied to such a miraculous discovery in protein synthesis.

  3. Dr Plato replied and denies any such, before and after test were performed indicating what you said. You are a fraud, im not being rude, im being factual.

    1. Hi Don,

      Why would I use Dr. Plato’s name if I weren’t prepared for this contact? I know a lot of people out there want to see me as a fraud, but it would just be silly of me to include her name falsely. I was there and have the measurement sheets she filled out. I’m fine with you believing I’m not telling the truth, and that’s unavoidable given the stats I’m offering, but I’m not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. What would i have to benefit? I’m not selling any products on this post.

      Best,

      Tim

      1. Hey Tim–

        There seems to be a lot of chatter about the measurements taken by Dr. Plato. I was hoping you could address this. Part of the reason the book is interesting is the evidence you offer, and this seems like such an important part of your argument it would be a shame to neglect it. You mentioned earlier that you have copies of the measurement sheets she filled out; are we going to be able to see those at some point?

        — Jacob

  4. 😀 I got such a good laugh out of what Don’s written! It only takes a fraction of a second to know it would be stupid of Tim to mention such a name. Even a fraud wouldn’t do that!

    Tim, keep up the good work and write more about the routines! We’re backing you up. 🙂

  5. Wow, great info, you give me inspiration to gain weight and muscle fast.

    I would like to thanks you on the info and

    I hope you can keep providing us with great info.

  6. Hey you have been a great inspiration and I really enjoyed your book. I know you have mentioned before that you have recorded every workout you have done since a teenager. I was wondering if you could upload your workout from when you did this program. It would be a huge help.

  7. There is a new post on “haters” that I just read and I thought to myself, no way does this really happen. I then stumbled onto this post and all I have to say is wow.

    As a personal trainer these results are actually pretty accurate. You would probably get a tan as well if you gained a significant amount of muscle and were willing to share your findings with the world.

    These are “secrets” in so many ways because they are not being used by many today. Why? Because this shit doesn’t sell. Think about it, if you knew that you didn’t have to over train and buy a million supplements a month would you keep your subscription or continue to purchase the newest “miracle pill” every time a new one was offered? Of course not. It’s a billion dollar industry for a reason, always remember that.

    Do I believe Tim in that he gained this muscle, yes I do. Will everyone who follows this get the same results, not a chance. Genetics, age, lifestyle, consistency, etc. will play a part in it. Another fact worth noting is that the test subjects had worked out intensely throughout their lives and taken a break…then done this sort of training. A lot of muscle memory was involved.

    The most important aspect of this in my opinion is the latter of training principle #3, “exercise your entire body each workout to elicit a maximal hormonal (testosterone, growth hormone + IGF-1) response.” When you train heavy and with compound movements that involve several large muscle groups, you increase your testosterone at an incredible rate. To put it another way, it is almost comparable to taking steroids but in a natural setting. That is how effective it is. The rest between workouts as well as adequate amounts of sleep will also increase growth hormone levels throughout the body. More testosterone and more gh will lead to bigger muscles and less fat, science baby!

    If I were starting out I would do a 6 week intense workout regiment to the point of almost over training but taking in an adequate amount of protein. Take 2-3 weeks off and then try this program. That should give the body enough time to start the process of muscle growth, hit a plateau, have plenty of rest for the upcoming 4 weeks and then be completely shocked and accelerate the system into growth.

    Great post Tim, I can’t wait to try this workout!

  8. Hi Tim,

    After just 3 workouts, I’m officially a convert to the 5/5 method. (I was hooked after the first day, actually)

    I have always preferred HIT training and had good results with it, but pushing the weights higher and higher resulted in injuries that would set back my progress.

    I feel like the reduced weight load required with the 5/5 cadence will make injuries a thing of the past, and I am already seeing what seems like “instant” muscle growth. (Muscle memory may be a small factor, though)

    But of course, I have questions! If you can’t answer them, that’s ok. I have to ask anyhow. 🙂

    1. What kind of warm-up do you do?

    2. Do you do any warm up sets at the 5/5 cadence?

    3. If so, how many and what percentage of the working weight and reps?

    4. Please describe a typical workout from warm up to actual work sets including weights and reps used, as well as any variations on the 5/5 cadence that you may employ.

    5. Do you ever “speed up” the positive when you are close to failure to get one or two more reps?

    6. Do you ever “rest pause” in order to get more reps on a work set? (Example: Failure hits at the 7th rep. Rest for 20 seconds and grind out 2 more reps. Rest again for 25 seconds and complete 1-2 more reps.)

    7. What kind of recovery aids do you use to make sure your muscles are ready for the next session?

    8. Do you ever use heavier weights with a slightly faster cadence (i.e. 2/4 ala Arthur Jones) to build tendons/ligaments/bone strength?

    Thanks for this post — I found it searching for info on Jones & Darden, then bought your book because I’m ALL about working less while earning more.

    I already have one contractor in the Philippines and I plan to have myself fully replaced in my businesses in 6-12 months.

    All the best,

    Cameron Day

  9. Hey Tim,

    Just started this workout and diet plan, going great so far.

    Side comment: please tell me your new book will cover efficient healing protocols from injuries such as bone fractures (e.g. nose, from fights), ankle sprains and other common injuries relating to weightlifting and ring fighting.

  10. tim ferris i have tried your 4 weeks bulking however it took me 8 weeks to go from

    70kg to 82kg i am very proud of this 😀 thanks tim i did it slowly working my calories up each week i did put on some fat however i did have a cheat day each week , however i am still lean,

    now to go back on your way or loosing weight time to reveal those gains thanks again tim 😀

  11. Hey Tim,

    I love the fact that this routine not only gives me muscle, but also:

    1) Made me taller

    2) Shaved my chest for me

    3) Gave me a tan

    4) Made my eyes rotate and sink a tad bit deeper

    and lastly, 5) completely changed my jawshape

    Thanks a bunch!

  12. Great to hear Tim.

    Thanks for the macaroni + salsa tip, this bulk meal is delicious and cheap.

    Does anyone else feel almost sick when performing this type of workout? The intensity is tough and certainly helps me condition my mind to the point of muscular failure, but midway through my last workout after a few sips of water I started to get a very uncomfortable sick feeling, the type you get when you’re about to vomit but can’t/don’t.

    I don’t think I’m timing my meals right. Perhaps I’m eating too close to my workout?

    Currently, my pre-workout full meal is 60 minutes before workout. I’ll be extending this time to 120 minutes anyway, but any info on this from others would be great.

    P.S. for those struggling with the mass amount of eating: blender + oats + water. I take 200g of oats + 30g pea protein 5 times a day, which gives a me about 4,000 calories (I’m a vegan). Oats are cheap, low-GI and heavy in calories. May not be the tastiest, but it’s worth it for a consumption time of <60 seconds.

  13. Just finished 60% of my pre-workout meal – fucking hell, the amount of food I have to consume is insane. I thought I’d be able to quickly escalate from 2500 cals to about 7000 over a period of a week, but unfortunately, it’s not happening.

    It will take me 2 weeks from now to fully adjust to 7000 cals.

    Anyone got any tips/hacks for consuming all this food?

  14. OK. I solved all of my problemos.

    Counter-intuitively, I added more water to my shakes (200g oats + 36g pea protein) to make consumption much easier.

    To avoid the sick feeling during weight training, I’ve extended the time between my pre-workout meal and workout to 2.5 hours and drinking 500ml water 15-20 minutes before the workout.

    Now, my question is: how the hell do I minimize the…ahem, “anti-social” gas given off as a by-product of this diet.

  15. Hi Tim,

    I’ve been following your program all this month, and I have two more workouts to go before it’s over. I have seen some great increases in the amount that I can lift, but my body weight has barely changed at all. Is that typical? I’m doing the diet and it feels like I’m eating a lot more than I used to, so I’m kind of surprised.

    I’m by no means a bodybuilding expert, so it really helps to have a program like this. I don’t think my results are going to be as dramatic as yours, but I can definitely see a change.

    For now I’m just focusing on maximizing my last two workouts. Then after a rest period, I’ll probably do another month of HIT. (Now that I kind of know what I’m doing). Thanks a ton for posting this!

    1. Hi Dan,

      It’s not unusual at all, especially if you’re not tracking body composition. It’s very common to lose bodyfat at the same time, so the scale is often not a good indicator of real muscle gain. If you’re gaining strength, you’re doing your job. Just eat enough and the scale will move 🙂

      Good luck!

      Tim

  16. Tim

    I did this a while back, called it my January Project.

    Got pretty strong

    Ate to many “protein bars”, no re-dubbed as Fat Sticks

    I start swimming tomorrow.

    I am terrified.

    See you later Joben

  17. There is no way that this is even remotely possible. 34 pounds in four weeks. Ha ha… maybe if you practice magic or have a really good imagination. You couldn’t even make those kinds of gains if you were cycling anabolic steriods. Good joke. I feel sorry for the saps that fall for this kind of hocus pocus BS.

  18. Hi Tim, I bought the original Four Hour Workweek back in 2007, and really liked it… and just now discovered your blog.

    I am starting to do the ’20 lbs in 30 days’ diet of yours, and I’m also planning on incorporating this muscle building program as well…

    You mention in the ’20 in 30′ diet that you have one day a week of splurging, and in this muscle building program you mention having one day a week of cutting calories by 50%. Should one do splurging one one day, say on Saturdays, and then cut calories on another day, say on Wednesdays?

    Aside from this, the diet you mention seems to coincide pretty much with this program, so it seems like it wouldn’t be counter-productive to cut and build at the same time this way, but I just want confirmation on that.

    Thanks Tim!

    -Shane

  19. @Mac:

    That feeling happens to me every now and then. Make sure you are “slowly” sipping on a high-GI shake during the breaks (Tim’s advice) and perhaps extend the breaks a little bit.

  20. I’m going to give this my best shot. I believe it is possible. Let’s see if muscle memory can stretch back 25 years! Back when I was 18 I put on a pile of muscle in my first 3 months of (volume) training and eating; anyone who hasn’t heard of beginner gains knows little about this game. BTW, I met Dorian in 1985 and somewhere, somehow he put on some serious serious muscle, beyond the parameters some of the naysayers have mentioned.

    So I’ve joined the gym, bought the protein (the wrong kind apparently : whey); I need the casein stuff as well. Let’s see if this will work for me.

  21. @Shane:

    If your primary objective is fat loss, you should follow the 20 in 30 diet to the letter and for the training use the this routine but with 30 seconds-1 min of rest between the exercises. (it’ll become extremely intense)

    If you want to gain muscle (which is best done after losing a lot of fat) then you can add slow-carb starches (pasta, quinoa,…) to the 20 in 30 diet (except dinner) and cut calories one day a week (instead of the free day) and then follow the above routine with 3-5 min of rest between workouts.

    If you want to gain muscle while maintaining body fat % then do as above but cut the starches out after 2 p.m.

  22. I don’t think this kind of progress can be made in just one month unless the guy has very favorable genetics and/or uses steroids.

    In 4-6 months though, no problem, if you do everything right (workout, nutrition, recovery).

  23. Tim,

    I didn’t come across Pete Sisco’s name at all when I was reading the comments. Are you familiar with his books? Train Smart! is his most recent.

    I was curious if you had heard or tried any of his techniques? As a man of efficiency myself – I think you would appreciate his philosophies as well.

    Also – I am a Raw Vegan and I had very good results doing the Geek to Freak workout – I gained 12 pounds and saw very good size gains too. Spirulina is the shit!

    Best of luck,

    Leland

  24. The real difference that an average man sees in that transformation is a pose and flexing with a good deal of lighting, shaving the body and sunbathing. Wheter Tim did gain 34 its not what we see on these pictures. I mean even if it is what we see on the pictures you can easily get similar effect by using what i have mentioned.

  25. Emm… This seems like something I’d be willing to try, just one thing in order to have everything accurate:

    Is there a ”Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gaining Insane Amounts of Muscle in a Short Time”?

    I’m not that familiar with any fitness suplements and would certainly not want to buy the wrong stuff, though the ”Little-know Colorado experiment” states that no special supplements or diet is required. Also, what about water consumption and cardio – how do these things fit into all of this? And what about the weights, what would be the necessery amount?

    And just to be clear, I’m a little drunk right now and this seems like a good idea to post this, hopefully I won’t regret this in the morning and will still want to go through with this… 😀

  26. Mea culpa on my procrastination.

    I said I would start working out some time ago. In fact, I started last Monday and Tuesday.

    So I will be months late reporting back my 1-year results.

    For the record, my program is similar to Body by Science, but with a twist thrown in from Doug McGuff’s article on how workout recovery MAY (emphasize may) be similar to how the body responds to an antigen. I.e., similar to an immune response.

    Therefore I am working out, then working out again approximately 24-48 hours later (providing something similar to an immune system booster shot’s effect on my body), then work out again approximately 7-10 days later, then approximately 24-48 hours after that, and approximately 7-10 days later. Et cetera.

    This will provide a non-linear stimulus with underlying form and structure, not too distant from, say, a human heartbeat. (Or any other biological function.)

    It may or may not be more effective than simply working out every x days, but regardless, it is my program. Doing the math, it should AVERAGE 1 workout every 4-6 days.

    Workouts are 5 exercises of 1 set each designated “A” and “B”. While subject to change, Workout A has 3 multi-joint and 2 “isolation” exercises (4 upper body, 1 lower total), and Workout B has 2 multi-joint and 3 “isolation” exercises (2 upper body, 3 lower total).

    Generally I do 2 Workouts A, then 2 Workouts B, then repeat that cycle.

    Am using Tim’s 5/5 cadence for now.

    Will report back in just under a year. Best wishes to you all for health and (not supposed to say happiness) excitement!

  27. Tim:

    I don’t expect this to be published … but I was wondering if your lean mass gain was due to you “super dehydrating” prior to your first weigh in and then your final weigh in was a result of water weight – which is still considered “lean mass”.

    Colby

  28. Hi Tim

    Interesting read.

    I tried a HIT routine in which I trained using 8 lifts split over 2 sessions a week. But only 4 work sets a week were taken to (and occassionally) beyond failure.

    Did I make any gains? No. I just regressed whilst gaining fat on a very clean diet. I lost strength.

    Looking at your routine, you are obviously using a lower percentage of your one rep max than I was whilst staying within the same rep range, so do you think I could have some sucess with this or do you think the intensity of this will just hammer me into the ground like the routine I used?

  29. Well, I did this program for a month, and saw steady gains in my strength and muscle size, along with steady fat loss, going from 176 at 14.4% bodyfat to 172 (at 12% bodyfat when I checked two weeks ago). I didn’t get Tim’s massive results, but probably because I was not taking supplements or sticking as rigorously to the diet (the first few weeks I was eating quinoa and protein shakes). Still, I am well on my way to a six-pack, and several female friends have commented on my slimmer look. I’m going to stick with this program at least until the end of summer.

    To all the people who doubt this: If you are already in good shape, your gains won’t be as drastic as Tim claims. I started out in good physical condition, but with room to improve. I think if I had started this when I was fresh out of high school and weighed 135 lbs, I would certainly gain 34lbs of muscle in 4 weeks with this alone (with minimal work I went from 135 to 155 just by doing martial arts– I didn’t even touch weights).

    -Shane

  30. I started doing this myself March 5th 2010 and since then I’ve gained 25lbs and lost 7% body fat, although I did hit the wall about mid May. To change things up I did the intro program for 3 weeks from New Rules of Lifting (awesome book by the way) and have since been doing Crossfit style circuit training for my military PT–I need to ramp up my cardio for testing requirements and would like to drop my body fat in half from where I’m at now. Anyway, for bulking G2F is absolutely a great routine. And yes, I’ve done the research myself and admit there’s little supporting literature and studies to back up the Colorado experiment’s findings. That being said, the proof is in the pudding!

  31. The only thing I can think of before attempting this is will my 2x a week Brazilian Jujitsu training screw up the recovery that is apparently needed?

    I want to get stronger but I’d like to avoid cutting out marital arts out of my life in the process, even temporarily (I just started BJJ this year). I want to be clear that my primary motivation is strength gain – but I don’t mind gaining weight to increase my strength, especially if it allows fat loss in the process, as Tim’s case study clearly demonstrated is possible. Is there a compromise of sort where I can utilize the HIT/Aurthur Jones principles to gain strength but also keep up my BJJ lessons on the off days, which I need to note leave my muscles considerably taxed/sore the next day as it is.

    What if I don’t go to “monumental failure” and just…eh…”slightly less than monumental failure”…Just thinking out loud here. Tim or anyone else out there lend me advice I’d greatly appreciate it.

  32. A simplification of the recommendations of the Colorado Experiment mentions that what is required is that the muscle is exercised, said simply, throughout it’s full range of motion with high intensity for low periods. There is a cheaper way to do this than with using N equipment, or even weights and a spotter. Elastic bands, which keeps a constant level of resistance and even has an increase in resistance at the strongest point of the muscle. The problem, of course, is having high-level resistance bands with set resistance in which resistance can be added, much like adjustable dumbbells. There is a set that has this ability, with labeled resistance and the ability to clip multiple bands upon a handle. Thus I propose that instead of using weights or N equipment the 100$ Bodylastics set would be more effective in cost and practicality. I have ordered mine, so I will be trying this.

  33. @Eric: For pure strength-training Tim recommends a different routine by Pavel. Search for Pavel: 80/20 Powerlifting and How to Add 110+ Pounds to Your Lifts on this blog.

  34. @Eric: For strength-training Tim recommends a different routine by Pavel. Search for Pavel: 80/20 Powerlifting and How to Add 110+ Pounds to Your Lifts on this blog.

  35. I remember back when I was 24, I had not exercised or engaged in sports for a couple of years. due to a bad wrist fracture which put me off any physical activity due to the pain and altered sensation from the injury.

    I’d never trained with weights and thought my lower body was naturally strong and reasonably muscular, my upper body was pretty scrawny 11.75” arms, 36” chest and I had pudgy 34” waist, my body weight was around 145lbs.

    I finally came to the realisation that I ought to do something to get into shape, and after speaking to a guy I worked with who trained, he suggested as a beginner I should workout using basic exercises 3 times a week on non consecutive days 3 sets per muscle group.

    the routine would have looked something , if not exactly like:

    Back Squats 3×10

    Bent Rows 3×10

    Bench Press 3×10

    Lying Triceps Extensions 2×10

    Biceps Curls 2×10

    I trained fairly hard, to be honest I was so weak in my upper body that training to failure was that unpleasant.

    I was also advised with regards to diet, that advice was to eat a lot, then eat some more, when I’d had my fill I was to drink a pint of milk or a protein shake…all of which I was more then happy to do.

    After a month on this exercise and diet routine my body weight had risen to 160lbs and my waist measurement had decreased to 32”, while my arm measurement increase and inch and a quarter..

    The next month I gained another 8 pounds with a commensurate increase in arm size and decrease in my waist measurement.

    It was at this point after seeing my progress I was taken under the wing of the guy who advised me initially.

    I started attening a local gym with him and did the exersises and reps he did, we trained 4 times a week on a split system mon/tue/thur/fri 9-12 sets per body part…and what do you know in 3 months i’d gained virtually nothing, I was assured this was common and was just a sticking point, it was at this point I became aware of the writings of Mike Mentzer, he had been retired from competition for some 4 years at this point but was still contributing articles to various magazines.

    What he wrote made sense to me and so I resloved to put his advice into practise.

    The way I did this was a little half hearted I mearly reduced the total sets I was doing per muscle group to about 6 (yeah with hind site this was still far to much) but I was under pressure from my training partner who thought I should train exactly as he was training.

    But what do you know I imeadiatly started to gain again, this continued for several months of slow but consistant progress. Buy the time I hit the “sticking point” again I was even more convinced that Mentzer’s form of training was more benifical…to me a least.

    It was at this point my training partner and I amicably parted ways.

    Thought I was convinced doing less exercise with greater intensity was the way forward, it took many years to accept just how little was optimal for muscular gains to be stimulated and to provide adequate recovery time to allow them to take place.

    To summerise what i’ve learned from how my own body and everyone elses i’ve trained with over the last 26 years responds to resistance exersive for the purpose of gaining muscular body weight:

    1. Muscular gains can be rapid and dramatic under the right circumstances (I’m taling about natural gains here, not drug enhanced training which i’m entirly opposed to).

    2.Adding additional set of exersise above whats needed to stimulate muscle growth is counter productive.

    The minimum needed to do this is one set per muscle group, thougth with exercises such as dead lifts one set can actually stimulate growth in several mucle groups, if not the body as a whole.

    3.Don’t worry your training to hard, In 26 years of training I’ve seen many many people training to much, but practically no one training to hard. Few if any actually train to real positive failure.

    4. If in doubt do less exercise rather then more.

    I’m pretty sure if I had folowed a Colorade experiment, HD or HIT type routine from the start of my training I would have achived gains similar to Mr Ferris in the same time period, so I’m in no doubt as to the fact that his claims are genuine, and I’m far from being genetically gifted in the area of muscle development.

  36. Hi all!

    Im experiencing some difficulties gaining all this musclemass that is promised.

    Ive been doing one-set-to-failure workouts for atleast two months now and have gained perhaps 5-7 lbs. of muscle at most.

    My last workout felt the best, because I felt completely exhausted for OVER A WEEK, and all I had to do was rest and eat.

    Im not sure how many calories I eat per day but it is far excessive of my “normal” diet, but I use no protein-shakes, unfortunately.

    I am 6″ 38 and currently weigh in at 174.

    Can mr Ferris or anybody else whos had these extreme results advice me as to what Im clearly doing wrong?

  37. adamskis (and others who are having trouble),

    With regards to workouts –

    There’s an important distinction between “feeling exhausted” and being “muscularly sore.” Most people I see in the gym use very very poor form when lifting weights – this leads to feeling exhausted. However it is not effective because poor form means you’re using other muscles than the intended muscle to cheat at the workout. If you have good form you should always be able to feel the specific muscle group you are working on during the workout, and the next day the muscle(s) should feel sore in a very specific way. Also very important is the 5/5 cadence Tim mentions. During my workouts, after I “fail” on my max weight I immediately drop to a low weight until I fail on that too. If you’re using 5/5 cadence with proper form, it is possible to make yourself fail at bench pressing even a bar (no matter how strong you are).

    With regards to eating –

    I use the website DailyBurn.com from my iPhone to track my caloric intake. I was never a calorie counter before, but I find that it can be very informative. I’m extremely strict in following the diet Tim set forward. I don’t use spices or sauces. Each meal is a huge helping of meat (either chicken or very lean ground beef or pure egg whites), a couple servings of veggies (spinach or asparagus), and a couple servings of legumes (black beans or pinto beans). 7 foods plus ice water and black coffee and a single glass of red wine before bed – that’s all I eat (except Saturdays, when I go wild and eat myself sick). The key here is consistency and lots of protein, IMHO.

    I posted a summary of the first 4 weeks on my blog along with some tips, and will follow up again at the 8 week mark (I expect to have a lot more success during weeks 4-8, since I’ve really nailed down the whole process now). When I post that follow up I’ll include some more details about exactly I did and did not do.

    http://leavingblog.com/2010/07/the-extreme-personal-fitness-experiment/

  38. Tim, while revisiting , this article a thought occurred to me. Conventional wisdom with running seems to be that a person needs to run like 3 times a week to keep their endurance up. It got me to wondering if that could be successfully challenged to say twice or even a single time per week. Any thoughts?

  39. Hey Tim,

    Really inspiring post. My business partner and I are both big fans of your book and after seeing this post, among other things, we decided it was time to go from geeky designers to freaky ones.

    We’ve been doing rigorous research and have been devouring weight training/body building/strength training books faster than ever. Can’t wait for your superhuman book.

    We haven’t been using nautilus machines, NO2, or training with quite as slow a tempo, but we’ve been taking most of your advice to heart. Especially the tracking part. We’ve been religiously measuring everything and taking before and after pictures and even videos once a month.

    We have 60 day result pictures doing the Tim Ferriss poses, although we haven’t quite mastered your controversial sizing algorithm 😉

    http://foxhoundstudio.com/blog/fitness-lifestyle/lean-to-mean-60-day-results/

    We’re 85 days in and still haven’t hit 34 pounds of lean muscle gain but we’ve never been happier with our physiques. Thank you for the post. You’ve definitely helped us out a lot!

    Our best,

    Shane & Jared

  40. Hey Tim,

    Great post. I enjoyed it so much that I am going to give this workout a try with some minor modifications. We are going to use the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet for the duration of the 28 days. We purchased the supplements that you used, and added a Tribulus fuel from twinlabs.

    I was wondering why you took NOxplode first thing in the morning? Since that item has a ton of caffeine, and I am sensitive to it, is there any other pre workout supplements you would recommend?

    Thanks,

    Jesse Montalto

  41. @adamskis

    What is your current workout routine?

    You also have to change your workout every 4-6 weeks as to avoid a plateau.

    Also, how much protein are you having each day?

    There is a reason as to why Tim mentions low glycemic carbs, because the insulin spike interferes with your bodys growth hormones.

    Let me know if we can help you, check out my site or send me an email.

    Jesse

  42. It is a myth that workouts need to be changed every 6 weeks or so to avoid a plateau. If anything, doing so reduces rather than improves results. The bodybuilding and fitness magazines like to promote this belief though, because it justifies them making up new stuff every month to fill the space between ads for mostly useless supplements.

    A person often appears to plateau after 6 to 8 weeks because that is the time it takes for neural adaptations to max out for beginners, or for performance improvements from skill to max out on a different routine for more advanced trainees – which is why strength gains appear to slow down. It is at this point where you’re starting to get to the more effective training. If a person truly plateaus after this point it is often because they are doing too much training.

    You can progress all the way to the upper limits of your muscular potential with a very basic routine consisting of just a few exercises without EVER switching it up, as long as you balance your training intensity and volume properly.

  43. Aspartame is not harmful unless you have phenylketonuria. The site you linked to is for someone claiming to sell an “aspartame detox program” and the info there is unfounded and meant to scare people into buying from her.

    See http://www.quackwatch.com/04ConsumerEducation/QA/aspartame.html for real science on the subject.

    Page three of the About.com article contains the following along with similar comments from many other experts:

    Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D. and professor of medicine and biological chemistry at Johns Hopkins University, agrees. In a 1999 feature for Intelihealth, he wrote: “A letter recently circulating on the Internet stated that aspartame can cause a number of illnesses: multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), as well as Alzheimer’s disease. As far as I can ascertain, there is no reliable evidence to support the claim that aspartame causes any of these disorders.” Responding to the claims that breakdown byproducts of aspartame are dangerous, he added: “While it is true that high heat can break down aspartame, there is no evidence that the breakdown products are toxic.” In another Intelihealth Q & A feature, gastroenterologist Lawrence J. Cheskin, also of Johns Hopkins, wrote: “…the evidence is overwhelming that there are no health risks to use of aspartame in the usual amounts (even 64 ounces) for everyone except the one person in about 16,000 in the United States who has phenylketonuria and can’t metabolize it.”

  44. Dear Tim,

    Could you provide me (us) with an ebook with all the details of the workout, food, plan, etc… also.. the principles of the Experiment..

    Please provide or else my wrath will fall upon you and despair and misery will be your everyday brother and sister.

    the viking has spoken, long live the ice lands of the north.

    ……

  45. @ Drew Baye

    Mr. Baye, please do not give me that “aspartame is safe” mumbo-jumbo.

    You have former FDA-investigators ON RECORD stating that aspartame was not properly tested before going on the food market! (source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKfAf9iYoi4 approx. 7:20 in the video)

    You are correct that people who are sensitive to phenylalanine avoid foods that contain them (like apples, bananas, oranges etc), but those foods only contain 4-5% of phenylalanine while aspartame contains 50%!!

    “Phenylalanine derived from aspartame can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause an imbalance of itself in the brain, causing serotonin to decrease. This lowered serotonin triggers psychiatric and behavioral problems, and aspartame interacts with all antidepressants. Elevated phenylalanine levels in both the blood and parts of the brain are associated with constant aspartame use. Neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock has shown earlier studies, which indicate that concentrations of this amino acid accumulate in the hypothalamus, medulla oblongata, and corpus stranium areas of the brain. Even earlier studies had determined that phenylalanine buildup in the brain can cause schizophrenia, or increase susceptibility to seizures.” http://dorway.com/dorwblog/aspartame-one-mans-poison-another-mans-profit/

    There you have it, everything scientific there is about the TOXICITY of aspartame!

    So again: If anybody knows where I can buy Casein free of any artificial sweetener, please let me know!

    Thank you.

  46. What warm-ups, if any, are needed with Tim’s workout?

    This question was put before by someone else but I can’t find an answer anywhere.

  47. Hey Tim, I just got an idea I want to run by you, and the other commenters here for that matter. I have been lifting every 4-5 days and got this idea while re-reading Body by Science, and after seeing Ellington Darden mention that he thought occasional not to failure workouts could be helpful. I was thinking about the different types of muscle fiber, and how slow muscles recover within the same day, intermediate muscles take maybe 2-3 days, and fast muscles take 4-10 days.

    It occurs to me that, while training every 4-7 days may be ideal for fast muscles, it might be too infrequent for slow muscles, as after 4 days they may have recovered, strengthened, and then started to weaken again. The same may happen to intermediate muscles after a week. So what I was wondering is, what if I worked out every 3 days, but alternated between working to total muscle failure and pre-failure workouts?

    What I’m thinking is, same exercises in the pre-failure routine, but lower the weight and time under load by 20-30% compared to the previous t-failure workout. According to the principle of orderly recruitment, the pre-failure workout should be able to exhaust the slow muscles, recruit but only and maybe fatigue the intermediate muscles, but avoid recruiting the fast muscles, which haven’t recovered yet.

    The exact timing could be tricky, but it sounds like it could work. Have you ever heard of anyone trying anything like this, or do you have any input on why it may or may not work?

  48. John,

    While recovery time can vary with fiber type (slow twitch recovering faster, fast recovery slower), you do not start losing strength after a few days. Even if you were to take a few weeks off, as long as you were getting plenty of rest and eating properly you would not lose strength.

    It is also important to consider that local recovery – repair of muscle damage – is only one part of recovery, and that the inflammatory response to the damage also has to be recovered from, and that may or may not take longer than local recovery for some muscles, depending on the individual.

    When in doubt it is better to allow more recovery time than you need than not get enough and interrupt the process with another workout. If you rest longer than you need to you will not lose strength. I’ve had clients come back after being on vacation or away for business for several weeks and beat the weights and reps from their previous workout. If you train before your body has recovered though, you’ll just keep accumulating damage and contributing to more inflammation and interfere with your body’s ability to recover and adapt to the workout.

  49. Adam, aspartame is safe. You might want to find more reputable sources of information on the subject, rather than unscientific alarmists and quacks like Dr. Hull.

    From CNN Health’s Dr. Gupta:

    “The fact is, current evidence does not support this idea that aspartame could cause cancer, or that it is unsafe. According to the American Dietetic Association, aspartame’s safety is documented in more than 200 objective scientific studies. The Food and Drug Administration has concluded that aspartame is safe, and there are no strong data out there to refute that.

    In 2007, the most comprehensive look at the research was conducted, and the conclusion was, again, that aspartame is safe. An important caveat to that research – it was paid for by the company Ajinomoto, which makes aspartame.”

  50. Why is Dr. Hull an alarmist and quack? Doesn’t sound very scientific to me.

    Whom I quoted was Dr. Blaylock, by the way, but I suppose he’s just an alarmist quack aswell?

    I went ahead and researched that 2007 study and came up with this:

    “Ajinomoto, a top manufacturer of aspartame, has announced that aspartame is completely safe. This conclusion was reached by a panel of industry-friendly “experts” hired by Ajinomoto, who did no new research but, instead, selectively reviewed previous studies on the safety of aspartame (many of which were funded by aspartame manufacturers in the first place).”

    http://dinapharm.com/store/article_info.php?articles_id=109&osCsid=4748c049029a727877df21c881d8e606

    I you would like to read a very-well sourced articel there is this one:

    The review was funded by Ajinomoto of Japan. Ajinomoto along with Monsanto have been the world’s biggest producers and sellers of aspartame. The authors of the review had numerous, obvious conflicts of interests as described below. Yet this information was apparently not disclosed to the journal it was published in. The parent company of the journal stated in a press release that, “There were no known conflicts of interest with the sponsor or potential biases of the authors” (Informa 2007).

    Gary M. Williams was the Chairman of the American Health Foundation (AHF) which was funded in part by The NutraSweet Company and other companies selling aspartame-containing products (Williams 1987). AHF Board of Directors have included representatives of PepsiCo and the National Soft Drink Association (CSPI 2003). The AHF received more than $163,000 in grants from Philip Morris. “Regarding an AHF press kit prepared by the PR firm, Ruder and Finn, William Ruder writes to Philip Morris: ‘please note that we have handled it so that there is not one single mention of the problem of smoking and health.’” (CSPI 2003, Ruder 1975). ”

    http://www.holisticmed.com/aspartame/burdock/

    And it just goes on and on…..

    So perhaps you understand my scepticism when you say to me “aspartame is safe” when clearly there is only pseudo-science regarding its saftey plus it is a banned substance in Japan! Why should I use a chemical that an entire nation has branded as dangerous!?

    But if You want to believe that aspartame is safe, that methyl ester(10% of aspartame-molecule) is NOT converted to METHANOL in our bodies wich causes METHANOL-poisoning then you can go ahead and do that.

  51. I’m not going to debate this with you here, Adam. I recommend those interested do their own research, and make their own conclusions, but read everything VERY critically.

  52. Hi Tim,

    Just curious as to what your supplementation regimen looks like, if you adhere to one?

    Not just for strength & performance purposes but for overall health. Since you have experience with supplement design and a neuroscience background I would assume you have a bit of experience in this arena.

  53. Tim,

    Using your basic method but concentrating on a small muscle group (i.e. didn’t require the huge amounts of food) I was able to add an inch to my right bicep and 3/4 of an inch to my left bicep in 6 weeks in Nov-Dec last year. It was strictly for cosmetic reasons (think greek ideal of flexed bidep=calf=neck), but bottom line is that it worked for something like that.

  54. Hey I don’t see where your workout routine was. Is there something I can see or buy that explains all of this? Also, pertaining to protein, did you do any studies with ‘normal’ protein levels as well as a control with maybe another subject?

  55. Thanks for the great tips. I’m impressed that you were able to put 34 pounds of muscle on in 4 weeks. An enormous task. Quite motivating. From research, I recommend performing from five to seven reps for each major muscle group. Also, to enjoy maximum muscle gain lift heavy weights, and select a good diet and good dietary supplements.

  56. WOW!!! I can honestly say that Tim, you are a Freak!!!

    Having said that I wish I would have taken before and after photos of a similar program and made a DVD. My results were 182lb (measured after my first day of 4-5k in calories and 400+ grams of protein) to 208+ lbs after 6 weeks of crazy intense work(I believe a DVD is almost necessary to show a good definition of intensity). I used old school, unpopular, hard to find methods and no supplements other a simple protein powder and lots of food. I did this as an experiment to show people (my class) that gaining muscle was not that hard. I was amazed at the amount of energy and testosterone I had pumping through my body. I failed once on my set of dips 3 weeks into the program, but after that I continued to put five pounds on every lift, every week (sometimes I felt so good I would jump up 10 lbs with no problems). I got exactly what I wanted out of the experiment.

    Again, what a great example of what we all could do, I wish I would have thought to sell this idea.

  57. Tim, you are the man! I can’t believe the tenacity of the hater who calls you a liar at every turn.

    For myself, I read your book when it first came out. At the time I was overweight, unfit and 58 years old. I resisted going to the gym because I couldn’t get past the thought of 2 hours in the gym (my habit from years before) to get back in shape. I had no energy or ambition.

    I decided to try your workout routine without the heavy diet, since I was too heavy already. I recorded my workouts faithfully, more to avoid repitition of the same exercises.

    The first thing that happened, I felt great and couldn’t wait to get back to the gym three days later. This lead to regular twice per week visits.

    Second, I noticed rapid muscle development and strength. I changed my diet to vegan. This lasted about two years and my diet since has been considerably better.

    Third, I signed up for Kempo training and recently achieved the rank of brown belt.

    I’ve also added dance to my program a few times per week.

    I have a Naturopath for a doctor now and he is very tallented, I’m taking supplements for my health that give me energy that I can’t remember having in this life.

    I’m now 62 and look and feel great. When I was a teenager my dream was to have 16″ biceps, I’m now at 15 3/4″ and that is way bigger than I’ve ever been.

    It all began with you. I can’t thank you enough.

    Bill

  58. I really want to try this program but i have one problem with it.

    I really want to build size and strengt in my upper body, but from my belly and down i want to reduce size. So how should i go about this?

    Should i not do the leg exersices?

  59. Tim,

    I’m glad you’re still responding to comments on this post. I’ve been doing some research on The Colorado Experiment and came across this routine:

    Leg Press 750 for 20 reps

    Leg Extension 225 for 20 reps

    Squat 502 for 13 reps

    2 minute rest

    Leg Curl 175 for 12 reps

    One legged calf raise w/ 40 lb in one hand 15 reps

    Pullover 290 for 11 reps

    Behind the neck Lat Isolation 200 for 10 reps

    Row machine 200 for 10 reps

    Behind the neck Lat Pulldown 210 for 10 reps

    Straight armed lateral raise w/ Dumbbells 40 lbs for 9 reps

    Behind the neck shoulder press 185 for 10 reps

    Bicep Curl Plate loaded 110 for 8 reps

    Chinup Body Weight for 12 reps

    Tricep Extension 125 for 9 reps

    Parallel Dip Body Weight for 22 reps

    Is this the same routine you’d recommend (except for the weight which would obviously be tailored to the individual)? What routine did you use? I’m just trying to figure out which exercises have the maximum effect.

    Thanks for the help!

  60. Timothy!

    First off, I have to say that you are my favorite author. I love how you’re the most productive with the least amount of effort and how you live life to the fullest. I sincerely thank you for sharing your book, blog and the future writings to come.

    I read this post a couple years ago and had always planned to try it. Then, when I found out about your new book that would cover this topic in more detail, I decided I would wait till it came out before trying it…but a month ago I decided I would give it a test run, and when the book comes out later this year, I’d try it again! What would I have to lose?

    I’m 25 years old, 6 foot 2 and my weight has fluctuated between 145-150 lbs. the past 5 years, and the most I have ever weighed is 155. Gaining weight has always been impossible for me no matter how much I eat. ..but after one month of following your protocol, I now weigh 175 lbs! I gained 25 lbs. in one month, this was while I was going through graduate school, with finals, papers and presentations to worry about!

    Here are my before and after measurements in inches:

    July 23, 2010 Aug. 23, 2010

    Bicep 9.5 10 11 12.5

    Forearm 8.5 8.5 10 10

    Neck 14 15

    Chest 34 38

    Waist 30 34.5

    Butt 37 42

    Thigh 19 20 20 21.5

    Calf 13 13 14 14.5

    weight 150 175

    Some tips that helped me:

    • When you said “The blender is your friend”, you weren’t kidding! It’s so much easier to down liquid then solid.

    • I don’t count calories so I don’t know exactly how much I ate every day…but here is my diet: I started out each day eating 1,000 calorie shake full of oatmeal, Kashi cereal, fruits and veggies. I would eat a big lunch and dinner with those meals you recommended and then I would eat that macaroni meal you recommended before and after those meals! Throughout the day I would drink an “Odwalla Protein Monster” that I got at Wal-Mart. It’s 32 ounces 880 calories and 72 grams of protein ; )

    • I didn’t use any supplements (I’m guessing they wouldn’t hurt though).

    • Having a supportive wife that is an excellent cook and a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness definitely helps ; )

    Thanks so much Tim!

  61. Going to try this i have cutted for 12 weeks

    I think tim i am just going to take your diet for bulking and train 6 days a week this is probably not the best option but going to use your diet

    making sure i do compound movements i was wondering when bulkinf

    2 weeks 3000 calories

    2-4 weeks 4000

    5-6 weeeks 5000

    anyone help me to do a proper bulk, be greatly appreciated!

  62. Coming from a legit fitness professional, you forgot to mention one thing. You were on steroids.

    There is no way it is PHYSICALLY possible for a human being to gain 34 lbs of muscle in a month, literally, no physiological way for that to occur naturally. Not on the best diet, best lifting routine, does not matter…this is BS.

  63. It seems you have gained a shoulder rotation (innward) as well as scoliosis.

    Take care of posture while training. Pilates, RPG, Yoga and Kung Fu are the best things I have learned so far.

    Anyway, nice weight gain!

  64. Hey Tim,

    We last posted two months into our four month summer muscle gaining experiment. We’ve just finished! We’re leaner than we started and bigger than we’ve ever been.

    We didn’t know if we would barrel on after the experiment was over, but our energy levels are higher, we feel healthier and we’ve even come to love the diet—and we had fun doing it.

    At the very beginning we gave ourselves an end date, where we would have a bodybuilding shoot, so attempted to look our buffest for the eight mandatory bodybuilding poses. We have before & afters too.

    http://foxhoundstudio.com/blog/fitness-lifestyle/lean-to-mean-finale-a-summers-worth-of-packing-on-muscle-and-tearing-off-fat-from-bony-to-beastly/

    Thanks again for the feedback! As trivial as it may seem, your comment on our blog really reinvigorated us to keep at it.

    Can’t wait for your up-and-coming book. Hopefully it’ll help us make phase two even more effective. We’ve still got a ways to go!

    Our best,

    Shane & Jared

  65. My main concern is will eating this diet also make my shadow go away as it did yours? Did you shadow come back as you ate a less rigoruos diet? I’m afraid that not having a shadow would be too much of a social hassle. Please help. :/

  66. Tim,

    I’m not sure whether you’re a charlatan or not, but as these 911 (oops, 912) posts prove, you’re certainly an interesting guy.

    Kudos to you for saying new and convincing things about topics of such broad appeal.

  67. This story is almost certainly false, as anyone with any experience in natural (without steroids) weight training will gladly tell you. Even with the use of such drugs, I would still be skeptical. If you try to repeat these results, don’t be discouraged by your certain failure, just keep working at it. 1-3 lbs a muscle per month over a year or so of training is very good and will make a big difference in your appearance

  68. Ferriss,

    The timing of your new book is perfect-almost anyway. Please let me explain.

    About 6 month’s ago I read a book about RFL (Radio Frequency Lesioning) for my back pain. The author (a doctor) suggested losing weight and getting some exercise. After 51 years, all of a sudden it was sound advice. Sound advice that worked.

    I went on the Ideal Protein diet which, coupled with some exercise, allowed me to lose almost 30 pounds. My 3 trips a week to the gym (3 sets of 15 slow reps) transformed my body. Yes-favorably. And I have managed to keep my weight stable ever since. However, after a few months I started to develop shoulder and elbow pain. Some cortisone use to relieve it but not anymore. Energy was fading. Two young children. Life.

    I started to look into “life extension” types of products. Cenegenics? Too expensive for me and too many shots. With the help of a local life extension physician I was just about to start taking armor thyroid and use testosterone cream followed by a post cycle including clomid and ZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz.

    Are you still there? I too am bored. And scared!

    I will wait for your book. I am 51 years old and look forward to communicating my experience with you and others.

    Thanks for being a guinea pig for the rest of us.

    Regards,

    Four Hour Johnson

    PS. I bought 5 books as requested. I am planning on the possibility of you changing my life again! Looking forward to your call!

  69. @Eric J

    From personal experience I would refute your assertion that muscle growth can not under the right circumstances, be very rapid.

    I gained 28 pounds of body weight in a two month period when I first started training in1984, this was accompanied by a 4” reduction in waist circumference suggesting a substantial decrease in body fat levels, thought my diet and training at the time were far form optimal (3 x 30 minute whole body workouts per week) the intensity was fairly heigh and the volume low enough to allow for reasonable recovery relative to my then condition.

    That is not to say that gains of this magnitude should be expected on a continued basis, it took me approximately 12 months to gain an additional 12lbs of fairly solid body weigh.

    With hind sight I believe if I had trained with less volume/frequency and more intensity I may have gained even more then I did.

    I don’t consider myself to have anything but average genetics and certainly have never taken anabolic steroids or any other ped’s for that matter.

    I suppose ‘experts’ would tell me what I achieved was impossible, luckily I was blissfully ignorant of that at the time.

  70. Andy,

    I should have stated that my assertion stemmed from my own experience and observation of others. I obviously cannot know what might be possible for any particular individual, but if you gained muscle that rapidly you probably have well above average genetics. The article seems to imply that 34 lbs of muscle is a reasonable expectation if someone follows Tim’s recommendations and that simply won’t happen for 99% of people. Not even close.

  71. I would have never thought that was possible! 34 pounds in 4 weeks almost feels like a marketing ad or some sort! Impressive indeed, very fit and looking good! A Charmer i must say 😉

  72. Eric

    My genetics I’d say they were decidedly average, my upper body was very under developed as the sports I’d been involved with up to that point had no requirement for upper boy strength, and I had had a couple of years of a pretty sedentary lifestyle…were talking 11/75 inch arms and a huge 36 inch chest :).

    So Some of my gain could have been accounted for by a normalisation of bodyweight, my pre-training body weight was 140lbs.

    I think what this article try’s to convey is what’s is possible…your mileage may vary however.

    And again don’t expect gains off this magnitude to continue for any great length of time, he’s not suggesting you can gain 34lbs of muscle every month ad infinitum.

    But as most people find your greatest gains happen in the first few months of training when the stimulus is new and the metabolic costs of aqueiring additional muscle tissue are comparatively low.

  73. I did a bit of research and the general consensus is that 1.5 per week is the upper limit. That is, the best even a very gifted person can do.

    Just for the hell of it, I also decided to look up some other data for comparison. A baby African elephant can gain about 2 lbs per day during its most rapid growth phase. Not muscle, just total body growth. Tim is claiming 1.2 lbs. per day of pure muscle. Take from that whatever you will.

  74. Eric J,

    The general consensus about most things in the field of exercise is dead wrong, as most of the mainstream is driven by tradition or commercial interests rather than science. Some publications and organizations pay lip service to science, but if they actually followed it they’d have to set their egos aside and admit they’ve been wrong about a lot of things for a long time.

    Due to differences in genetics and environmental factors individuals vary tremendously in their response to exercise, and under some circumstances extremely rapid gains are possible (beginners, people returning to training after a long layoff, people regaining muscle after loss due to inactivity, illness, etc.).

    It took me nearly 6 months to gain 30 pounds of muscle using this approach, but I trained a man in 2007 who put on 8 pounds of muscle in three weeks. He came to me to help him strengthen his legs to prepare for a bike trip he was going on in hillier terrain than he was used to. Turns out he was a very fast gainer, and went from 165 to 173 pounds with no significant increase in body fat (approx 6%). His workouts consisted of only one set of six different exercises and lasted only around 20 min each.

    I recently started training him again, and since he had not done any strength training on a regular basis since the first time I trained him his weight had dropped back down to 166. I weighed and measured him and put him through his first workout on Sept 17th. I weighed him again the day of his fifth workout, on Oct 1, and after only two weeks and only four workouts, consisting of only one set each of six exercises, he had reached his previous high body weight of 173. His abdominal skinfold measurement has not changed (in men it tends to go up before the chest or thigh skinfolds) suggesting no significant fat gain.

    His gains were fast the first time (over 2.5 lbs per week) but regaining has been significantly faster (3.5 lbs per week). As part of the experiment I’ll be training him for a total of eight weeks, and it will be interesting to see just how much more muscle we can put on him.

    While Tim’s results are unusual I wouldn’t consider them impossible, especially if most of the muscle was being regained.

    You might want to consider the general consensus about the maximum possible rate of muscle gain is so low because the general consensus about the best way to train and eat to gain muscle is wrong. The “experts” may have low expectations because their methods don’t produce results as quickly.

  75. lmao the average man gains 5lbs a month and in 3 months can gain 15lbs of lean muscle, the average man on steroids gains 10lbs of lean muscle a month and 30lbs in 3 months hahaha you’re a scammer and liar

  76. When I advise companies on internet marketing I see a lot of what is happening here in comments. People listen, than take what you have given them, modify it with unknown reason and as it seems pretty random, and than implement.

    Thats what I see here: modyfing the diet, number or time of excercises, and other variables. And it’s good if you are an expert, have tried already the “basic” model and want to experiment. But if you haven’t done EXACLY what Tim has prescribed – than you are just wasting your time. Most good systems work perfectly well only if you take care of all the elements.

    And that is exacly what I’m doing right now: started 2 days ago: diet+training. EXACLY the way Tim has described it.

    First gathered data: It’s harder than I thought, but I’m sure it’ll be worth the effort.

    1. Hi Michal,

      I’m interested in doing exactly the same thing. I’ve been preping this past week by joining a gym, buying wieght gainer and creatine, and learning how to do the exercises. I weigh 160 and can only bench press 115 for 8 reps. I almost killed myself going to 135, on the 4th rep I couldn’t push it back up. Had to slide out from under the bar. (LOSER, but i’m back on it right away).

      It’s okay, I need the foundation, so all this work makes sense.

      My question to you is how has it worked out. I’m going to enter a 7 week body recomposition contest and I want to come in with the most muscle gain. Therefore I’m curiousl with the results that you’ve seen. I might try it regardless, but it would be nice to hear your take.

      Best,

      MoMacAttack

  77. That’s great change!! Holy crap. Is there a world record that has been set for fastest muscle gain in the shortest period of time? That would be interesting to know, maybe you could enter or start it? I think you really have tapped into how to make rapid change, which is hard.

    My biggest problem with fitness change before was the mental blocks of changing my lifestyle. I have realized that if your mind is running in one direction the actions or the plan doesn’t matter so much, it ended up being a lot of effort. Other people had made great change on that plan that I followed and kept it, I succeed on determination alone. I had everything dialed in and was very specific to everything I was doing but I simply couldn’t keep going.

    Now I have found a more effortless way to making change, now that I got the mind game figured out – it wasn’t easy. But I’m interested now in checking out what your book has to offer.

    Kudos for big gains

  78. Seeing as this was posted in 2007, I was wondering how have you done with keeping the gains?

    Any muscle loss over the years??

    Awesome post man, an inspiration to us all.