July 3rd, 2011


Audio Review: The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss

The 4-Hour BodyThe 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First off: I knew when I bought the audio book that it was abridged, but I don't think I'd realized quite how abridged. As a runner, I was disappointed that the chapter on ultrarunning didn't make it into the audiobook. Since I had audible.com credits to use up anyway, I found the audio made a nice taster to see if I want to read the full book. (I'll probably check it out of the library.) Along with the audio book, you do get a PDF that offers more details on the "Occam's Protocol" exercise program described in the book.

So, on the one hand, if you're into fitness and you're a certain kind of geek, you're going to find this book fascinating. If you've ever tracked your sleep, logged your food intake, worn a pedometer or a fitbit to track your daily activity levels, hit Pubmed to try to learn how to use the latest science to improve your workouts, or otherwise used your geeky obsession with data to try to improve your health and fitness, you're going to recognize a kindred spirit in Timothy Ferriss.

On the other hand, Ferriss is really really obsessive about this stuff. Far more obsessive than I am, or than anyone else I know (and I know some pretty obsessive people). He's also got some pretty extreme fitness goals. For example, he talks about how his "slow carb" diet allowed him to achieve low enough body fat to have visible veins on his abs. Which is fine, if that's your thing, but it's not really my thing. This means that some of the protocols he recommends strike me as being much more complicated and much more detailed than someone who's just trying to get a bit fitter would need. Then again, if you just want to get a bit fitter, you probably don't want to read this book.

Furthermore, it's important to keep in mind when reading this book that Ferriss's method of talking to scientists and then carrying out experiments on himself and his acquaintances is not the same as rigorous science. Most of the stuff in this book seems like it would probably work, and would at least not be actively harmful, but take it as inspiration for your own research and geeky experiments rather than gospel.

The book starts with a particularly interesting chapter about what motivates people to make changes to their fitness and to stick with those changes. From there, it covers diet/fat loss, building muscle mass, female orgasm, increasing testosterone, improving sleep, increasing longevity, and probably a few other topics that I've forgotten about. So, if you've got goals in any of these areas in your life, you'll find some ideas here. Just be prepared to think, "Wow, this guy is making it way more complicated than it needs to be."

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