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

1,318 Comments

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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!

###

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

Posted on: April 29, 2007.

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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)

1,318 comments on “From Geek to Freak: How I Gained 34 lbs. of Muscle in 4 Weeks

  1. Great tips – thank you. Although… you forgot to mention that you shaved your torso and put on some pro-tan for the after shots… ;o)

    Like

      • Your an idiot, look again, 2 comparisons have him nearer in the after shots, and 2 have him further away, but you just saw what you wanted to..
        Even with the slight differences in distance between the shots it’s easy for anyone to see the difference in his musculature.
        If this was really an attempt to deceive then it would have been a poor attempt, in fact it would have been as easy to photoshop the after shots.

        Like

      • He alternated in the shots before/after of standing closer to the camera vs. further so it’s a wash… look more closely.

        Like

    • This is a joke. Anybody who spends an ounce of time in the gym should know this. ive been at it for a year and a half. I started out at 145 pounds and right now im 175 of actual good weight and worked my ass off every month to get where i am.34 pounds of fat and muscle in a month is doable and probably 85% will be fat. Its impossible to gain 34 pounds of lean muscle a month much less a year. If every guy could gain 34 pounds in a month then all guys on earth would be jacked. Great transformation, but i know it didnt take 4 weeks. Probably a year minimum. this is a scam dont buy it.

      Like

      • Please don’t immediately dismiss things without experimenting and trying them for yourself. I understand your disbelief, especially considering the amount of hard work you probably put in at the gym. The reason why not all men are jacked is b/c most of us are lazy, and/or don’t workout. I used Mark Lauren’s ‘”You are your own gym” and while I didn’t gain 34lbs, I noticed extreme gains in strength in just 4 weeks and am now able to do handstand pushups, something I was never able to achieve from my time in the gym (which was a lot). Your body is a machine and like all machines can be manipulated to improve its performance.

        Like

      • that’s because you’re a beginner, and there’s the reason for your big gains.

        After some time, your gains will be lower and lower, and harder harder to get.

        Like

      • You both have a point but you have to remember that everyone is built differently which can change how fast you gain muscle or loss fat. Another factor is how you eat, you need a good source of protein and other things too.

        Like

      • This is the typical “I can’t do that so it must be a lie” type of response. The web is full of this kind of hate speech. Anything that points out that what someone else is doing isn’t the best way to do something is said to be a scam. Just remember that your results may vary. If you put out more effort you will do better. If you put out less you will do worse.

        Like

      • True, lots of people claim something is impossible just because they cannot do it. If you work hard in the weight room you should just about always see results. Although from the little I read he says he worked out 2 times for 30 minutes per week. That is 4 hours, and you are trying to tell me he put on 34 pounds of muscle? I’m sorry but no. 4 hours of working out over 30 days, and getting more than a pound of muscle a day…

        Like

      • I agree. Suspicious of the gains, I checked the waist size difference, and the gain there is the same as the other dimensions! So, it obviously is due to largely water or fat gain, again I suspect through creatine use, as the same happened to me. The size all disappeared after I quit using it!

        Like

      • Any body who doubts this program obviously hasn’t used it. I’ve used it 3 times and gained an average of 1lb per day of pure muscle while losing fat for the thirty days. Yes that’s 30 lbs of lean muscle in thirty days. And I’ve been body building for 28 years and have tried everything. This hands down works the best. The hard part is actually the eating. You have to eat like it’s your job….

        Like

      • Wait — you’ve used this 3 times and gotten 30 pounds over 30 days each time? You’ve used this to gain 90 pounds of lean muscle on top of the weight you’ve gained from bodybuilding for 28 years? Or have you been gaining 30 pounds, losing 30 pounds, gaining 30 pounds, etc over the course of your life?

        Like

      • You know? You were with him the whole time? If not you don’t know so stop being a hater, challenge conventional “wisdom” and give it a go.
        There’s many reasons why people plateau or get minimum gains and its usually because your not eating enough or pushing yourself hard enough at the gym.

        Like

      • Very easy for the Arthur Jones method to work. A couple good books on it out there, my fave is By Ellington Darden called the new high intensity training. You will learn about Arthur jones experiments with this style of training in the book if you just read it. I gained 12 lbs in 6 weeks of of this program, diet is key as well. I trained 3 people in e HIT method, and one guy went from 212 to 164 in about 4 months and got pretty muscular. My close friend I trained couldn’t handle the intensity but he gave it a good effort which is more than a lot of people can do as this is very difficult. The third guy I trained was young, and never worked out before with weights and in 9 weeks went from 137 to 163. Arthur Jones trained Casey Viator in this method as well after he got in an accident and lost most of his size. He utilized mostly negatives with this method and gained a ridiculous amount of weight in a few short weeks. Granted some of that was muscle memory though. This method does work, just not for everyone… Most don’t have what it takes to push through it.. Give it a shot.

        Like

      • Your absolutely right, I only gained 16lbs in 24 days, but only 13 were muscle….of course I did have an extra 1.5yrs that I didn’t have to spend in the gym that you got over me. :) Applied knowledge is power. If we ruled out everything we didn’t know or try, the world would still be flat. Thank you Tim!!!

        Like

      • In my late 30s after working out steadily for half a year, I devoted 6 weeks to a ketogenic diet and multiple sets of exercise to negative failure. The workout, in retrospect, was unnecessarily brutal. But, I lost 10 pounds of fat and gained 15 pounds of new, not regained, muscle. Furthermore, my strength increased by at least 50% in most lifts (singles). I never had similar results before or since. Big changes in short periods is possible.

        Like

      • Brilliant! so much for the conventional wisdom that you can’t pack on muscle while on a ketogenic diet. Perhaps you could tell us what your diet looked like?

        Like

      • Not true….in my hay day…..I gained 15 lbs of muscle and lost 25lbs of fat in less than 5 weeks…this was recorded by a trainer…he couldn’t believe it since I am a girl!!!!….he said I have good mind muscle connection…..

        Like

  2. Very interesting, inspirational and impressive!
    Did you do any negative only exercises like Jones did in the study?
    Have you been able to maintain the gains since you first did this?

    Like

  3. Great transformation Tim, your before and after photos are fantastic. I have a few questions:

    What was your rep-range for each of your exercises?
    How many calories per day were you eating?
    Were you also doing any cardio exercise?

    Like

  4. Wow!!

    Along with the fat-loss diet look like two things I need to start today!

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

    Your book is great, I ordered it via Amazon first but the ship date went from 2 days to the first or second week of May so I dropped by my local Borders and found one copy that I snagged. I will be seeking a worthy recipient for the copy from Amazon when I finally receive it.

    Like

  5. OK, I like the idea of doing your own homework. And I don’t doubt this can be done (you were in good shape to begin with, although many will not see that). But I’m a guy who also designs his owns training, and I know a lot about this stuff, and were I to try to start your program (I wouldn’t, I like spending more time exercising (: ), I would have no idea where to start.

    In other words, if this is meant for beginners – and all geek-to-fantastic-body programs are – you should explain the workout routines in more detail.

    And, while we’re at it, there’s no way a beginner will be able to apply your principles; I bet you have had a lot of experience before starting the program.

    These aren’t really criticisms, just observations (;.

    Like

  6. any chance you might give us a little more detail on the workout routine/principle? I went to the colorado experiment link but they give a bunch of stats on the results, not what working out to the point of failure means or what routine they used, etc…

    Thanks!

    Like

  7. I’m signing up to be your first female case study! I’d like to get leaner and sleeker during my 28 day trial; I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Just started the slow-carb diet (and also picked up my copy of the Four Hour Workweek)on Saturday. My boyfriend leafed through the book and is already bugging me to finish so he can steal it.

    Like

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  9. What percentage of your max weight were you using? A. Jones seems a little hazy here.

    Clearly, you keep pushing your set until failure, but with what weight? 40, 50, 60, 70%?

    Also, A. Jones’ message is somewhat fuddled by pitching the Nautilus equipment; with a spotter I can replicate negative-only. Any recommendations on this?

    Like

    • People, if you get the book, it helps. “4 hour body”. To answer your question of percentages. He states that you are to find out what weight you can do for 8 to 12 reps. The idea is for each lift, to have your muscles under a total stress time of 80 to 120 seconds. Each rep should take a total for 10 seconds (5 seconds up, and 5 seconds down).. You must go slow for every rep. For example.. If you want to start this workout. Go pick up a 50lb curl bar, and do as many (5seconds up, 5seconds down) reps as you can. Keep going until you think you can’t get a single more rep, then try for another one. If your arms drop out of complete loss of strength to do another rep, then you have hit muscle failure. Furthermore, you should hit muscle failure at 8 to 12 reps. I go for 10 reps generally. I started out with a 60lb curl bar, and got complete muscle failure at 10 reps. I ate a calculated amount of protein and carbs (which was a load) and at my next workout (which was 3 days later), I tried a 70lb curl bar. I got 10 reps. I gained 10 pounds in the lift. Magic. That hopefully will explain. Some parts of the concept are confusing. Buy the book.

      Like

  10. I’m not sure if the author is telling the truth, but after examining the contents, this seems to be a Nautilus commercial. The first link posted (in the details) mentions that only “rotary” equipment, with direct resistance could do the job, and after setting that up, they finish with “only nautilus equipment was used”.
    Makes me question the authenticity of the entire posting.

    Like

  11. Very interesting. I’d like to do the same. I’m interested in a more specific breakdown of what exercises you used. Do you think you could breakdown your workout routine?

    Also, im not entirely sure I know what you mean by this: “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.”

    Check out my site at http://www.nolimitzentertainment.wordpress.com

    Like

  12. Tim – first stumbled onto your site because of this page being featured on del.icio.us/popular, which is an awesome story in itself. (I could definitely use a new workout/excercise/eating regimen)

    Have since read through almost all of your posts, pages, interviews, etc. Incredible, & truly inspiring!

    Amazon’d your book for 2-day delivery; can’t wait to read the whole thing!

    Like

  13. dude, right on, those are awesome freakin’ results Tim! I agree with shorter, more intense workouts.

    Why waste time in the gym?!?!

    You should also check out ‘The New Bodybuilding for Old School results’ by Dr. Darden, it’s an updated verison on all the HIT training!

    kick ass till the next time bruddah!

    –z–

    Like

  14. Hey Time,
    Impressive results!
    Do you have the workout you followed for the 4 week duration? How many grams of protein and carbs per pound of body weight did you consume?

    Thanks,
    –Matt

    Like

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  16. Amazing progress. It is definitely motivating.

    I think one of the keys here will be to actually train in a manner where you have very high intensity over a short workout.

    For this experiment, did you train with a personal trainer? If not, did you do it with a training partner? If so, what were his or her gains?

    I’m assuming you need a partner to effectively train in this manner.

    Ravi

    Like

    • Ravi-

      It’s super helpful to have the perspective of a coach during a workout, but if you have a solid training plan made for you and total commitment, you can make it happen solo.

      Will

      Like

  17. nice blog.

    great presentation at web2.0 expo. i wish people would stop working so hard on meaningless details and focus on real work. i think everyone will benefit.

    thanks again,
    mahmoud

    Like

  18. Having done extensive “research” myself, for the past 5 years or so (as a hobby), I can’t read this and accept it as fact. From what I understand, putting on 34 lbs of lean muscle tissue in 28 days is a physical impossibility. Furthermore, any talk of reaching a “genetic set-point” in 28 days is absolutely ludicrous. Having said that, and going by your pics, I do think you made excellent progress, and applaud you for that.

    Like

  19. This would’ve been much more interesting to see if you’d shaved and tanned for the first one as well, doing those 2 things in the second pictures only can make things appear more drastic than they actually are.

    Like

  20. Hey Tim, those are some nice gains.

    Would you mind elaborating on the amount of kcals you ate during the month, also, did you take any supplements, and third, how did or do you maintain that size?

    Cheers,
    Alex

    Like

  21. I am interested in performing the same experiment.Can you tell me about the prerequisites of this experiment in detail?I think the results would be interesting as I am a thin person.Thank you.

    Like

  22. Hi, loved the article, i would like to know did you train the all body each workout 2 to 3 times a week ? lot of HIT articles and people like Mike Mentzer suggest training each body part no more than once a week…. Also I do Muay Thai as well, did you do MMA while on the training program ? Thanks

    Like

  23. You are obviously happy with your results, and that is what matters most. But, here is the opinion of one female reader: you looked better and cuter before :> And not at all geeky. Before you had a toned, nice soccer-player-type body. Now you have a slightly freaky and excessively buff meat-head-football-player-type body. I’m sure many women would disagee with me. But, it’s not a bad thing if you slide back toward self-proclaimed geekiness or if you land somewhere in the middle of freak and geek.

    Like

  24. Hi Ravi,

    I actually train alone and have since age 15. I prefer training between 8-10pm and use a “power rack” (a stand-alone cage that acts as a spotter) for safety. Generally, I favor machines over free-weights for ease-of-use, with the exception of deadlifts for experienced trainees. Resistance is resistance, and machines require less clean up.

    I’ve put friends — even vegetarians — on this program, who have gained 10-20 lbs. in four weeks despite consuming insufficient calories. For ambitious eaters, and eating is the hardest part, that number will be much higher.

    Weight training for me is “me time” and almost meditative, so I never train with a partner. It’s therapeutic to count the cadence (5 seconds up, 5 seconds down) and forget the world for 20-30 minutes at a time.

    Last but not least, you are right: short and intense are the defining features of this workout. That said, there is one additional element more neglected than any other: massive recovery time.

    Cheers!

    Tim

    Like

    • Hey Tim,

      I hope you can take the time to reply to this or at least outsource an auto reply haha. Thanks for the book it’s a good read and i’m on the slow carb diet now. I have lost 25 pounds in 4 weeks already. I’ve been lifting regularly and can bench over 300lbs now. I’m gonna start the geek to freak portion now and want to know can I still do curls or tricep work? I can follow directions but workout A and B seem so basic I feel like a slacker not doing more. if I don’t hear anything from you i’ll give it two weeks. I’ll give an update, somebody send me a 4hr Prayer, I hope this works.

      Like

    • Hey Tim,

      your truly a mad scientist! Awesome results and great book = )
      from my research previous to weighing 177 lbs after completing the 28 days you have weighed 193 lbs in 1999 in your competitive kickboxing days, from education, research and personal experience this makes it makes it far far easier and quicker to regain the muscle. I’m 6’1 and weigh 165 lbs (body type: ectomorph), however unlike Casey Viator, Arthur Jones and yourself this is my staring weight so to speak, it is the most I have ever weighed in my life, from your extensive experience and research what do you think the best, most efficient and effective method to take when gaining 34 lbs of muscle for someone like me is? would you still recommend the method you outline in the Geek to Freak chapter? or are there other supplements, exercises, amounts of food etc you could recommend? I would very much appreciated a reply! = )

      Like

    • Tim,

      I understand you didn’t keep these gains but how would you suggest someone keep as much of these gains as possible when transitioning back into different types of training like crossfit?

      Like

  25. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for sharing your story with us, it’s certainly motivating me to get off my butt and get my fitness back to a good level and build more muscle.

    Short and intense workouts. You said you workout 8-10pm. Most people advise 1 hour workouts. Whats your take on the length of workout and times per week?

    For someone who hasn’t exercised properly and/or regularly for nearly 3-4 years, do you think acheiving similar results are possible?

    Kavit

    Like

  26. Tim –
    What defines “intense”? I am really interested in this as I am a classic ectomorph that has made no noticeable progress the traditional route.

    I have been enjoying this site for a couple weeks and got the pre-ordered amazon book last week. Thoroughly enjoying it.
    thx
    chris

    Like

  27. Hi!
    I really like the stuff in this post, but I have a question.
    #4 on this page states that you “drop calories by 50% one day per week”.
    But rule #4 in the post you link to (your current fat-loss diet) stats that you have a “Dieters Gone Wild�-day.
    That means you have 5 regular days, one ultra-slim day and one eat-all-you-can day per week right? Or am I misunderstanding you?

    Yeay for scandinavian genes!
    /Calle from Sweden

    Like

  28. With a routine like this, clearly you have to be a bit exhausted right after it’s over, but are you necessarily sore the next day? I’ve always welcomed muscle soreness as a sign of growth, but the inability to walk properly for a couple days after a good leg workout does get a bit annoying. If I’m not sore the next day, I’m always tempted to get right back into it, ignoring the advice you give of only training 2-3 times/week. Am I doing something wrong if I don’t experience that soreness, or should I just take the day off anyway?

    Like

  29. This looks interesting, Tim. One question: how many reps do you aim for on each exercise before failure? Or in other words, at what point should the weight be increased?

    Like

  30. To your points 1, 3, 5 and 6, the one-set-to-failure approach isn’t new (ref: Peter Sisco, Power Factor Training, Static Contraction Training), and as I’m sure you’ve discovered, this approach tends to rub the ‘traditionalists’ the wrong way. One of the points you touch on but Sisco emphasizes is the need to recover. Something he has mentioned which I’ve also experienced is being able to do a given exercise once a month and still make gains. But his focus was in “strongest range training”; I’d be interested to know whether this was your approach as well (I still need to follow all your linked referenced) or whether you did “full range” training.

    I’m 5’10” and at my best I’d made it to 179 lbs. I fell off the wagon so to speak and slowly lost weight/size till around 165, then this past March I caught some bug which kept me from doing anything for 3-4 weeks. As a result, my weight fell to a multi-year low of 159. That sucked.

    So I’ve just recently gotten back on the horse. I haven’t switched back to doing the max weight possible for a single set, although I do shoot for failure by at least the 3rd set, if not sooner. I’m not so hung up on the “must do 3 sets of 12″ mantra, so long as I focus on good form, putting in a strong contraction (and avoiding using inertia or ‘swing’), as well as a slow release/relaxation of the muscles being worked. Already the scales are moving favourably, and in a relatively short time.

    But your programme has given me inspiration to revisit the one-set-to-failure approach. At the moment some of my muscles (legs mainly) are still going through that shaky phase where the neural pathways are getting (re)established.

    One question though that I haven’t seen adequately answered anywhere: If you want to incorporate cardio training and you’re doing the weight training twice a week, when and how often should the cardio training be done? I’m guessing that even cardio training could cause a delay in recovery/growth from the weight training, but…. If you have any decent references on this, that would be great. My cardio has always sucked, but I’ve managed to make progress in this area as well (again, before my recent illness).

    Oh, and my wife confirms that your ‘before’ pic is quite a bit how I am now. Especially the “chicken legs”. :) (No offense intended… this is a bit of a running gag for her and I.)

    Cheers.

    Like

  31. A. Jones is a bit vague on details about his one-set-to-failure. Are you using a high percentage of your max (70 to 80%) over a few number of reps to failure, or the opposite.

    Noah

    Like

  32. As someone who’s never lifted weights before, I have a question … what kind of machines will allow you to do the exercises needed for this?
    Would a bowflex work?

    Like

  33. That is a really motivating article, but I could do with more details! I read the article you linked to, but couldn’t pick up that much info more than you mentioned here.

    I guess my main questions are:
    1: You mention “4-7 multi-joint exercises” is that all the exercises you did? 1 set of each?

    2: What kind of calorie intake were you maintaining?

    3: Do you know anywhere that details the exercises that you mention (in terms of getting the form correct) or are there any others you’d recommend?

    I guess one useful thing if you have time would be more specific detail on what YOU did rather than just the guidelines.

    Great article though, thanks!

    Like

  34. Hi Tim!

    Can you be more specific and outline this routine? I get the 5 seconds up/5 down, but what exercises each time? Just one rotation? How many days per week?

    A checklist PDF file would be great! ;-)

    Also, what about nutrition before & after the routine?

    Thanks,

    Leo

    Like

  35. Can you be more specific on the types of lifts? Or, do we just need to make sure we are hitting our whole body every session? I read to Colorado Experiment report and that is not much more specific either. It says something like 8-10 lifts per session, with emphasis on the negative.

    P.S. I just received the book last night, and I ended up staying up too late reading it I almost slept in for a final.

    Like

  36. I recently did something like this. Although I only gained about 10lbs of muscle in a month. I quite drinking soda, started drinking water and grape juice instead. I also took muscletech’s Nitrotech and Celltech. I lifted 4 days a week (about 45min at a time) and would do cardio type workout 1 other day a week (about 30-45min). I’m glad that you posted this to your blog instead of trying to sell people a book or something.

    Like

  37. Incredible results. You’re an inspiration!

    A couple of questions:

    Did you continue with your martial arts training during the 4 weeks or just the weight lifting?

    Also, how many calories/grams of protein per day did you eat?

    Thanks

    Like

  38. Hey Tim! Your book is on its way to my house now, and I am looking forward to it more than any book I’ve purchased in the last 2 years! My question is more oriented towards females. My fiance is on the keto type diet with me, but has the MOST picky appetite ever, and, gets bored easily and wants to quit. Suffice to say, it is bothersome, and I can’t get her into the ‘eat for results’ frame of mind.

    We are going to Vegas in approx 22 days and naturally we want to drop excess pounds ASAP. What type of workout regimen would you recommend for her, and, what kind of supplements to assist the process? I figure if the diet is half assed, at least the gym can somewhat compensate for it, still with results. Input in more than appreciated!

    Like

  39. Good job Tim. Although you went from VERY undertrained to well developed, good job. Too bad there is no proof of dates for the pix but you seem like an upstanding guy. Great job. Now, are your plans to add another 10 pounds of lean?

    Like

  40. I’ve heard of HIIT (high intensity interval training) for losing weight mostly through wind sprints but this is the first I’ve heard for gaining weight. Very interesting, I’m due for a workout change, this might be the one for me.

    Like

  41. The advice you give is exactly what I found after researching for a few years.
    One thing I’d like to point out is it took me about 2 years of moderate weight training and general physical fitness activity (biking) before I could do these workouts with the intensity that is required. You were already in great shape and very fit before you started.
    If you are totally out of shape, start slow, 5-10 minute workouts, get some cardio, and work your way up to 30 minutes.

    Like

  42. I would love to hear more about the types of lifts you used! As Nathan noted, the Colorado Experiment is a bit thin on the details.

    Like

  43. I can’t find any mention of any cardio…. I assume you were still training/fighting or something in addition to the workouts? Or is that the whole thing – no other exercise for total recovery?

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  44. Slow repetitions compromise explosiveness and speed. They also tend to induce sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, meaning your muscles are getting puffed up more than you’re getting stronger. Though I think this is more of an issue with volume training than the one set to failure recommendation here. And puffed up muscles are usually the goal of people lifting weights, anyway. Did your bodyweight increase faster than your strength?

    My statements here are informed by Ross Enamait’s excellent “Infinite Intensity” training book, which in turn meticulously cites peer reviewed literature.

    The “colorado study” link here reads like a Nautilus ad, doesn’t reference a controlled study, and makes pretty limited claims about performance gain. Is there a better link? But yeah, the basic point that intensity and peak effort, not volume of training, drive performance gains is valid. Read about Tabata Intervals.

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  45. I’m a lacto-ovo-vegetarian, and am wondering how many calories are we talking about here?

    I tried your diet plan for one week and lost 10 pounds (Monday morning to Saturday morning), but gained back a lot on Saturday, and it seems to be coming off kinda slow. I wonder if I am doing something wrong there.

    -micah

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  46. I’m very interested in your workout routine. But can you provide a little more detail about exactly what you do and what weights are appropriate?

    I read the Colorado Experiment article and I’m still not sure what one set to failure means. Does it mean do one type of exercise as long as you can, no matter what the weight? Or do the maximum weight that you know you can do for however many reps you can?

    In that article, it talks about doing an exercise to strengthen triceps to failure, then doing another exercise that also uses triceps so your tris can go past failure.
    What exercises did you do to get to failure and what did you do to go beyond the failure point? If you could tell me the exercises you did, it would help me get a better idea of what exercises are best for flexibility and to push someone past failure.

    I’m very interested in trying the program you suggested but I’m not sure exactly what to do. If you could just list what a typical workout for you includes (what exercises), that would help me and other readers out a lot.

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  47. Hi,

    can you give us more details? Like what equipment you used, what excerises etc.

    And the “variable resistance” they talk about in the Colorado experiment, can we achieve that or do you need some super-special machine? Or is it not really required?

    If you could give us the schedule for one of your workouts that would be nice.

    Cheers,
    Vlad

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  48. How do you gain 10-20 pounds of muscle “despite consuming insufficient” calories? The only formula for weight gain is Calories consumed minus calories burned. Unless, of course, you are saying they simultaneously lost 10-20 pounds of fat.

    Can you clarify?

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  49. Do you know any ‘ladies’ who have tried your work out and if so, what were their results? I am one of said ladies not interested in looking like you and I think I would like to give your little experiment a chance given that my greatest constraint on working out/losing weight is lack of time, but I would like to hear how girls did. Definitely don’t need my ass (or anything else) getting wider.

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  50. Maybe I’m just woozy with legume-overload from following your diet recommendations, but I don’t think your math is right.

    “two 30-minute workouts per week, for a total of 8 HOURS of gym time” equals 1 hour of gym time per week, equals 8 weeks, not 4.

    Not that all these changes in 8 weeks wouldn’t be remarkable. But I’m impatient, and I go on a big vacation in 4 weeks. If I’m going to try this, I want to make sure I do it right.

    btw, tearing through the book and about to purchase a couple of copies as gifts. thanks!

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  51. Awesome results! This post has motivated me into doing something like this. I just started to prepare and write my stats down. I weigh a whole 109lbs. and have taken the before pictures.

    I’ll be keeping track of it all.

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  52. Tim, did you have to drastically lower your weights, theres no way I could lift my usual weight when I’m lowering and raising the weight 4-5 seconds, the weight will have to be much lighter.

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  53. wow man, thats awesome!

    i have been trying to gain weight for the past like 5 months. eating at least 3 high protein meals a day and working out to the point of exhaustion 1-2x a week and right now im at the heaviest i have ever been (~150lbs, 5’11”). i am using only 25lb dumbells and nothing else at all. i gained about 10 lbs since i started but seem to have hit a wall, so im about to go buy heavier weights and eat more.

    how much weight were you pushing?

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  54. Hey Tim, I guess I’m too much of a skeptic but the before and after pictures are hard to believe. I know with the gain of 34 lbs of muscle it obviously changes the body. However the eyes in the before and after picture appear different. The eyes in the after picture appear to be deeper set than the before. No offensive is meant by this at all. Thank you.

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  55. Tim,

    Looks fantastic – this along with a couple of your older blog posts have definitely inspired me to get my butt down 24 floors to my building’s gym (embarrassing, yes!)

    That said, I’ve got to admit to being a little blonde (not my natural hair colour mind you): when you say one-set-to-failure, do you mean ‘do as many reps as it takes to fail’ or ‘do a set number of reps, making sure that the resistance is such that you are failing at the last rep’?

    Thanks for the spark (and hopefully help)!

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  56. Hey Tim,

    Years ago I read about the Colorado Experiment in Dr. Ellington Darden’s book about Nautilus equipment and I was amazed at the results. The book covered a lot of Arthur Jones’ training principles and theories. He had some very revolutionary ideas for the time, but I’ve rarely seen anyone use or talk about his training methods in modern literature. Perhaps 30 minutes a day seems like far too little training after hearing almost every other bodybuilder boast about working out 2 hours a day for 6 days a week.

    I’m glad to see someone effectively using those priciples to prove how extraordinary the results can be. And you went one step better by including dieting instructions as well. I appreciate the info.

    One question: why did you decide to workout only a couple days a week, instead of every other day as Jones and Viator did? Just curious. Keep up the great work with the posts!

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  57. That’s awesome; I’m currently on a weight training program now, myself, as well as some running and I’d like to get into boxing and Krav Maga (familiar? check it out, it’s awesome, I’ll take it over a martial art any day since that’s not really what it is).

    Can I ask about performance improvements, i.e. amount of weight added to some of the core exercises, i.e. bench and deadlift, after 4 weeks?

    Cheers,
    Andrew

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  58. I second the request for more specific breakdowns on the types of exercises in your routine(s)…

    The Colorado report says some interesting things about working certain muscles to temp failure, and then driving them past that by mixing in other exercises that make use of the “failed” muscle in conjunction with others… such as doing dips after working triceps to failure, and then dips again after working the chest to failure…

    Seems like order and combination is important? Did you carry the same routine each day you went?

    Awesome results man, truly inspiring as stated above.

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  59. Nathan, check out “The New High Intensity Training” book by Ellington Darden.. He worked with Arthur Miller and was involved with a lot of his experiments. It goes over workout plans in more detail, but it really boils down to just what Tim says in point 3 above.

    Also keep in mind that the Colorado experiment results were also the result of *rebuilding* muscle that had atrophied on Casey from illness. But they are quick to point that out in the study also.

    Great post Tim… I’m enjoying your book now (just received from pre-order) and your blog posts.

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  60. I was recently in NYC and just about everyone on Manhattan had A Crackberry (CB). I’m no critic of making money but forget having a leash. Good tips on the emailing. I’ll send this to a coworker who is constantly checking his texts for hits from his Craigslist causal encounters posting(s)

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  61. How has this training regime and results affected you in terms of your cardiovascular health? From what I read, you mainly concentrated on building bulk through weight lifting. From where you were before you started training to where you ended up at, did you notice improvement in the area of cardiovascular ability or a reduction?

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  62. I started this technique tonight after reading the article. I actually just got your book today.

    Quick question: How many reps do you find you are doing in each set? I know this will vary from person to person, but generally what is the range. I did some dumbelling and used a weight that was high enough to fail my muscles after about 8-10 repetitions. Is that about right?

    -d

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  63. I am missing something here, doesnt two half hour workout sessions a week = 4 hours in the gym after 4 weeks? Where do the other 4 hours go?

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  64. Did you do the same workout 2x per week or did you mix it up every workout?

    For example, did you two squats twice per week or just once a week?

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  65. I was told i had to lose weight fast due to a super-high cholesterol count (my GP was freaking out, lol, as I’m only 22). Problem was was that I couldn’t keep the exercise up due to the length of time it took (I work two jobs). Seeing this has me motivated again. I should be able to cram in 30 in a day, even if it is in my lunch break

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  66. Tim,

    Very interesting, but I’m confused…you did this during the month of October? You seem to have gotten much tanner in those 28 days in a month when it’s near-impossible to tan, even in San Jose (where I live). Also, at what point in those 28 days did you decide to wax your body?

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  67. Hey Tim,

    Great blog! Me and a friend are going to start training like this for the next two months. I`ve already bought a bucket of green paint and am practicing my war cries; YOU’RE MAKING ME ANGRY… YOU WOULDN`T LIKE ME WHEN I`M ANGRY. Hulk style.

    I do have some questions. I`m guessing you need a hell of a warming up to get the max out of this? In the Colorado Experiment article they were aiming for 10 reps. Is this the way you did it? Aim for 10, if you go over 10 reps up the weight?

    Most people I`ve talked to about conventional HIT-Traing told me that HIT does work for hypertrophy but doesn`t train the nervous system. I do care a lot about strength gains since I`ve been active in martial arts for a long time. What are your thoughts on this? Did your strength increase a lot during this month?

    I`m going to order your book sometime this week. Looking forward to reading it. You realy hit me with the 20/80 concept. Thanks a lot for sharing your insights and keep it up. Fedor is waiting!

    Paul from Amsterdam

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  68. I agree with Nathan. Is there any information about this that is more specific? I would love to work on it but this is a set of rules rather than an actual program I could try. My background in phys-ed is very limitied so some of your rules don’t really make any sense to me but an actual program set out would be really helpful.

    Cheers

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  69. Were you also doing your MMA training during these 28 days? If not, did you do any high intensity cardio? I’d imagine that you’d need to allow the body plenty of time to rest, so other exercise might be counter-productive during this (huge!) growth phase.

    I’d also be interested to know how many calories you were consuming most days, and the protein/carbs/fat ratios. Did you use any supplements?

    I like how you manage to get so much done in so little time. :)

    Peter

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  70. G’day Tim,

    The results from this experiment look fantastic. Quick question, what caused all your body hair to fall out & your skin to become all over evenly tanned, ’cause it adds a lot to the look ;)

    BTW: Love your blog & am looking forward to reading the book :)

    Thanks, Aaron.

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  71. can you give a number on this “massive amounts of protein”. hows much grams per pound (or use metric if you like) body weight are we talking about, usually, i’ve read 1.5 to 2.

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  72. Hi, I’m very impressed with your experiment but very confused by your math. You say two 30-minutes works for 4 weeks equals 8 hours of gym time? Wouldn’t that be 4 hours of gym time?

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  73. Hi Tim,

    Like Nathan, I’m curious as to the sequence of the exercises. I understand the example of doing a tricep workout, and then moving on to dips to engage chest AND triceps (or vice versa), but would be very interested to see an entire workout routine listed to fully grasp the idea.

    Thanks!

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  74. I’ve started giving this a try just yesterday.
    I’ve been trying for quite some time to really lean down and bulk up. With the monitoring of my diet, I’ve really cut a lot of weight, but haven’t gained as much muscle as I would like.

    After trying it last night, I have to say – I need some guidance; doing 1 to 2 reps to failure feels like a cop out.

    After I was done after 25 minutes, I was actually really antsy, and was still able to rock climb quite vigorously for 2 hours after that.

    Today, I only feel slightly sore. I would imagine 1 rep to failure would wreak havoc on my body.

    Is this how it should feel?

    With all that said, I’m glad to see that what I’m reading is adding up. Everyone seems to be all about the “intensity” of the workout as opposed to length.

    Keep up the awsome work!

    Jonathan

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  75. I have a few questions. You say 6-7 exercises, up to 3 minutes between exercise, 5 sec up/5 sec down. 30 minutes.
    Do you have an exercise plan with sets/reps/exercise and weights?

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  76. Tim, what gave you the idea for dropping “calories by 50% one day per week to prevent protein uptake downregulation.” Do you have any citations for that? Thanks.

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  77. 10-15 YEARS apart?! So, he kept those shorts for that long in order to pull this con off? And then he got Dr. Peggy Plato to get in on the con….maybe you can check up on that….But this is one long-term planner/influencial kind of guy….May make a great President–running opposed to Arnold!

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  78. I dunno if Tim touched on it–but the training has to be…..BRUTAL in focus, intensity and execution. I often CRUSH so-called workout-people when we just get into it with a little “show-me how” sampler workout. It almost seems the more gym time/working with trainer experience they have, the worse they get crushed, as they have established a comfort level with “doing their workout” several hours/day, several days a week–THIS aint that.

    As Arthur Jones once said: “Unless you have just about thrown up from a single set of curls taken to absolute failure, you haven’t yet truly worked in high-intensity fashion.”

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  79. I too am an advocate for the HIT method. The results are phenomenal… the only thing that will hold back gains when doing HIT right is your genetics. What’s sad is how few people know about Arthur Jones – he has brought so much knowledge to the sport of bodybuilding – and I’d say he is near equivalent to Weider. Folks, abandon your 4 and 5-day splits and move to the more-effective method that is High Intensity Training; you will not be disappointed.

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  80. Hi All,

    Wow! Talk about a bruhaha!

    My apologies for the delay, but I’m traveling in NY and just now checked out the comments awaiting moderation, which totalled more than 300. I did delete quite a few comments: first, those that were the same questions over and over (just to reduce the burden or update emails to everyone, and to prevent me from answering the tanning question 1,000 times ;) ); and second, those that were just rude or profane. I created this blog to show people what’s possible and offer options, and here’s my rule for the site: be cool. Don’t be mean or rude — it’s a waste of energy.

    OK, so here are a few responses to the most common questions:

    1. Yes, it is 4 hours and not 8 hours! I had 8 workouts per month in my head (which is accurate), and screwed up the arithmetic. Guess I won’t be writing “The 4-Hour Mathematician” anytime soon ;)

    2. I did not maintain the gains. Why? Too much eating. I estimate (I don’t both counting) that I was consuming between 5,000-8,000 calories per day in 5 or 6 divided meals, which is a full-time job. I spent more time eating than working out! I much prefer to be around 165 lbs. for athletics.

    3. For each set, I target to reach failure after 80-120 seconds, thus 8-12 repetitions at 5/5 cadence. This is sometimes referred to as “time under tension” (TUT). I will usually do one marathon workout of 2-3 hours before beginning the program to determine an appropriate starting weight for each exercise.

    4. Doing bicep curls WILL cause your skin to darken and your body hair to fall out. Since I didn’t do bicep curls, I had to use Nair and go to a tanning salon ;)

    Holy crap — I just got some HUGE NEWS via cell phone from my publisher. No joke… you’ll hear about it in the next few days. In the meantime, please check out the writings of a few of my favorites (sorry about Jones’ stuff coming off like a Nautilus ad, as good as his machines are):

    Ellington Darden
    Ken Leistner
    Matt Brzycki (he edited one compendium with excellent research references)

    More to come!

    Cheerio,

    Tim

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  81. I have a recent Ellington Darden book from Rodale. It is very good. Highly recommended.

    Per the recovery time, Ellington Darden asked Arthur Jones what he would have done differently in his training when he was younger. Jones’ response? He would have worked out less. He was only working out twice a week!

    Also, remember that Jones was responsible for training several winning bodybuilders. He didn’t just sell Nautilus. He also invented the machines himself. He also made nature films in Africa in the 60’s. He’s quite a guy. Not many men made like him anymore. Not by a long shot…

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  82. It’s interesting that you mention aiming for 80-120 secs of TUT. I read an article not too long ago about NASA research on muscle growth and maintenance that found that 80-120 secs of TUT was required and ideal for triggering hypertrophy. I’m guessing you have read similar research? This was from an experiment done on the thigh muscles of rats.

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