The 4-Hour Body

by Timothy Ferriss

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: March 12, 2024
The 4-Hour Body
The 4-Hour Body

What are the big ideas? 1. Unique approach to fat loss: The book suggests that anabolic steroids, when used under medical supervision, can help prevent muscle wasti

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What are the big ideas?

  1. Unique approach to fat loss: The book suggests that anabolic steroids, when used under medical supervision, can help prevent muscle wasting and aid in body composition goals by maintaining and even building muscle while losing fat (Chapter Subtracting Fat). This perspective is not commonly found in self-improvement or fitness literature.
  2. Polyphasic sleep: The book introduces polyphasic sleep as an alternative to monophasic sleep, suggesting that it can lead to increased productivity and more free time. It presents various methods like Everyman and Uberman, which involve breaking up sleep into multiple segments throughout the day (Chapter Perfecting Sleep).
  3. Critical Four exercises: The book introduces a set of four foundational exercises called the Critical Four – Chop and Lift, Turkish Get-Up, Cross-Body One-Arm Single-Leg Deadlift, and Two-Arm Single-Leg Deadlift – designed to address common imbalances and improve overall functional fitness (Chapter Reversing Injuries).
  4. Occam's Protocol: The book presents a unique four-week lifting program called Occam's Protocol, which focuses on maximal muscle growth through full-body workouts using compound movements and progressive overload (Chapter Adding Muscle).
  5. Polyphasic sleep and autophagy: The book connects polyphasic sleep to autophagy, suggesting that the benefits of caloric restriction and intermittent fasting can be achieved without significant calorie reduction through this sleeping pattern (Chapter On Longer and Better Life).


Start Here


  • The book is divided into two main parts: Fundamentals and Ground Zero.
  • The goal is to help readers achieve rapid results in areas such as fat loss, muscle gain, strength gain, and overall well-being.
  • The reader is encouraged to approach the book as a buffet and select only the most relevant chapters for their specific goals.
  • The author emphasizes the importance of skepticism but also encourages readers to take action and test hypotheses.
  • The book includes scientific citations and resources for further research.
  • The author mentions the importance of productivity and shares billionaire Richard Branson's tip on working out to increase productivity.
  • The author encourages an experimental lifestyle and learning what works best for the individual.


“Does history record any case in which the majority was right? —Robert Heinlein”

“the major fears of modern man could be boiled down to two things: too much e-mail and getting fat.”

“Don’t use skepticism as a thinly veiled excuse for inaction or remaining in your comfort zone.”

Fundamentals—First and Foremost


  • Rule #1: It's not what you put in your mouth that matters, it's what makes it to your bloodstream.
  • Rule #2: The hormonal responses to carbohydrates (CHO), protein, and fat are different.
  • Men and women should train similarly for body composition goals despite differences in hormone levels.
  • Avoid marketer-speak and ambiguous terms with no physiological basis.
  • Genetics alone cannot account for the diversity of characteristics we see around us; environment can influence gene expression and messenger RNA.
  • Protein has a greater thermic effect of food (TEF) than carbohydrates or fat, meaning more protein calories are "lost" as heat during digestion.


“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry”

“The minimum effective dose (MED) is defined simply: the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome.”

“To boil water, the MED is 212°F (100°C) at standard air pressure. Boiled is boiled. Higher temperatures will not make it “more boiled.” Higher temperatures just consume more resources that could be used for something else more productive.”

“If you need 15 minutes in the sun to trigger a melanin response, 15 minutes is your MED for tanning. More than 15 minutes is redundant and will just result in burning and a forced break from the beach. During this forced break from the beach, let’s assume one week, someone else who heeded his natural 15-minute MED will be able to fit in four more tanning sessions. He is four shades darker, whereas you have returned to your pale pre-beach self.”

“In the context of body redesign, there are two fundamental MEDs to keep in mind: To remove stored fat → do the least necessary to trigger a fat-loss cascade of specific hormones. To add muscle in small or large quantities → do the least necessary to trigger local (specific muscles) and systemic (hormonal2) growth mechanisms.”

“you don’t need to understand any of the biology, just as you don’t need to understand radiation to use a microwave oven.”

“REMEMBER: it is impossible to evaluate, or even understand, anything that you cannot measure.” 80”

“Mysteries are not necessarily miracles.” To do the impossible (sail around the world, break the four-minute mile, reach the moon), you need to ignore the popular.”

“Charles Munger, right-hand adviser to Warren Buffett, the richest man on the planet, is known for his unparalleled clear thinking and near-failure-proof track record. How did he refine his thinking to help build a $3 trillion business in Berkshire Hathaway? The answer is “mental models,” or analytical rules-of-thumb4 pulled from disciplines outside of investing, ranging from physics to evolutionary biology. Eighty to 90 models have helped Charles Munger develop, in Warren Buffett’s words, “the best 30-second mind in the world. He goes from A to Z in one move. He sees the essence of everything before you even finish the sentence.”

“Did you eat half an Oreo cookie? No problem. If you’re a 220-pound male, you just need to climb 27 flights of stairs to burn it off.”

“The decent method you follow is better than the perfect method you quit.”

“Even if you are predisposed to being overweight, you’re not predestined to be fat.”

“The word cellulite, for example, first appeared in the April 15, 1968, issue of Vogue magazine, and this invented disease soon had a believer base worldwide: Vogue began to focus on the body as much as on the clothes, in part because there was little they could dictate with the anarchic styles.… In a stunning move, an entire replacement culture was developed by naming a “problem” where it had scarcely existed before, centering it on the women’s natural state, and elevating it to the existential female dilemma… . The number of diet- related articles rose 70 percent from 1968 to 1972.”

“Incineration does not equal human digestion; eating a fireplace log will not store the same number of calories as burning one will produce.”

“tablespoons, if you’d care to indulge). Will the body composition outcomes be the same? Of course not. Rule #2: The hormonal responses to carbohydrates (CHO), protein, and fat are different. There is no shortage of clinical studies to prove that beef calories7 do not equal bourbon calories. One such study, conducted by Kekwick and Pawan, compared three groups put on calorically equal (isocaloric) semistarvation diets of 90% fat, 90% protein, or 90% carbohydrate. Though ensuring compliance was a challenge, the outcomes were clearly not at all the same: 1,000 cals. at 90% fat = weight loss of 0.9 lbs. per day 1,000 cals. at 90% protein = weight loss of 0.6 lbs. per day 1,000 cals. at 90% carbohydrate = weight gain of 0.24 lbs. per day Different sources of calories = different results. Things that affect calorie allocation—and that can be modified for fat-loss and muscle gain—include digestion, the ratio of protein-to-carbohydrates-to-fat, and timing. We’ll address all three. Marilyn Monroe building her world-famous sex appeal. More than 50% of the examples in this book are of women. Marketers have conditioned women to believe that they need specific programs and diets “for women.” This is an example of capitalism at its worst: creating false need and confusion. Does this mean I’m going to recommend that a woman do exactly the same thing as a 250-pound meathead who wants 20-inch arms? Of course not. The two have different goals. But 99% of the time both genders want exactly the same thing: less fat and a bit more muscle in the right places. Guess what? In these”

Ground Zero—Getting Started and Swaraj


  • Create accountability by making a public commitment or forming a competitive group.
  • Use fear of loss and the benefits of comparison to motivate yourself.
  • Make your goals small, achievable, and temporary.
  • Set up an awareness system for tracking progress.
  • Focus on process rather than outcome.
  • Avoid excessive external distractions or influences.
  • Use baby steps to create momentum.
  • Experiment with doing nothing to see what effect it has on your behavior.
  • Weigh yourself daily and track your results in a spreadsheet or online tool.
  • Keep your minimum and maximum acceptable weights within a reasonable range.
  • Avoid deliberate action if your weight stays within the acceptable range.
  • Use awareness to make subtle decisions that affect your overall progress.
  • Trust the process and be patient with the results.


“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

“People suck at following advice. Even the most effective people in the world are terrible at it. There are two reasons: 1. Most people have an insufficient reason for action. The pain isn’t painful enough. It’s a nice-to-have, not a must-have. There has been no “Harajuku Moment.” 2. There are no reminders. No consistent tracking = no awareness = no behavioral change. Consistent tracking, even if you have no knowledge of fat-loss or exercise, will often beat advice from world-class trainers.”

“Tracking anything is better than tracking nothing. If you are very overweight, very weak, very inflexible, or very anything negative, tracking even a mediocre variable will help you develop awareness that leads to the right behavioral changes. This underscores an encouraging lesson: you don’t have to get it all right. You just have to be crystal clear on a few concepts.”

“For a long time, I’ve known that the key to getting started down the path of being remarkable in anything is to simply act with the intention of being remarkable. “If I want a better-than-average career, I can’t simply ‘go with the flow’ and get it. Most people do just that: they wish for an outcome but make no intention-driven actions toward that outcome. If they would just do something most people would find that they get some version of the outcome they’re looking for. That’s been my secret. Stop wishing and start doing. “Yet”

“Next was learning that 4,000 calories equals about a pound of fat. I know that’s an oversimplification, but that’s okay. Oversimplifying is one of the next things I’ll mention as a tool. But if 4,000 is roughly a pound of fat, and my BMR makes it pretty easy to shave off some huge number of calories per day, it suddenly becomes very clear how to lose lots of weight without even doing any exercise. Add in some calculations on how many calories you burn doing, say, 30 minutes of exercise and you can pretty quickly come up with a formula that looks something like: BMR = 2,900 Actual intake = 1,800 Deficit from diet = BMR – actual intake = 1,100 Burned from 30 minutes cardio = 500 Total deficit = deficit from diet – burned from 30 minutes cardio = 1,600”

“Get a simple tape measure and measure four locations: both upper arms (mid-bicep), waist”

“OrbiTape One-handed Tape Measure”

“Think of them as insurance against the weaknesses of human nature—your weaknesses, my weaknesses, our weaknesses:

  1. Make it conscious. 2. Make it a game. 3. Make it competitive. 4. Make it small and temporary.”

“Seeing progress in changing numbers makes the repetitive fascinating and creates a positive feedback loop. Once again, the act of measuring is often more important than what you measure. To quote the industrial statistician George Box: “Every model is wrong, but some are useful.”

“Aristotle had it right, but he was missing a number: “We are what we do repeatedly.”

“Dr. B. J. Fogg, founder of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, wrote his graduate dissertation with a far less aggressive commitment. Even if he came home from a party at 3:00 A.M., he had to write one sentence per day. He finished in record time while classmates languished for years, overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. Understanding this”

“Look at it as a test drive of one to two weeks. If you want to walk an hour a day, don’t start with one hour. Choosing one hour is automatically building in the excuse of not having enough time. Commit to a fail-proof five minutes instead. This is exactly what Dr. Fogg suggested to his sister, and that one change (the smallest meaningful change that created momentum) led her to buy running shoes and stop eating dessert, neither of which he suggested. These subsequent decisions are referred to in the literature as “consonant decisions,” decisions we make to be aligned with a prior decision. Take the pressure off and do something”

Subtracting Fat


  • Anabolic steroids are a class of hormones that have important applications in medicine and athletics.
  • The media often sensationalizes the risks associated with anabolic steroids while ignoring their benefits.
  • Steroid use should be done under medical supervision to minimize risks and ensure proper dosing.
  • Anabolic steroids can help prevent muscle wasting in individuals with diseases such as HIV.
  • There are resources available, such as RXMuscle and Medibolics, to answer questions related to anabolic steroid use.
  • The documentary "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" provides a balanced perspective on anabolic steroid use in athletics.
  • Anabolics, 9th edition is the most comprehensive reference guide for anabolic drugs.


“Out of clutter, find simplicity. —Albert Einstein”

“Researchers use alloxan in lab rats to induce diabetes. That’s right—it’s used to produce diabetes. This is bad news if you eat anything white or “enriched.”

“There are 47,000 products in the average U.S. grocery store, but only a handful of them won’t make you fat.”

“Proteins *Egg whites with 1–2 whole eggs for flavor (or, if organic, 2–5 whole eggs, including yolks) *Chicken breast or thigh *Beef (preferably grass-fed) *Fish Pork Legumes *Lentils (also called “dal” or “daal”) *Black beans Pinto beans Red beans Soybeans Vegetables *Spinach *Mixed vegetables (including broccoli, cauliflower, or any other cruciferous vegetables) *Sauerkraut, kimchee (full explanation of these later in “Damage Control”) Asparagus Peas Broccoli Green beans Eat as much as you like of the above food items, but keep it simple.”

“As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. —Ralph Waldo Emerson The system is the solution. —AT&T”

“be consumed during meals by using a potassium- enriched salt like “Lite Salt” or, my preference, eating extra guacamole with Mexican meals. Avocadoes, the main ingredient in guacamole, contain 60% more potassium than bananas. Avocadoes also contain 75% insoluble fiber, which will help keep you regular. If you prefer pills, 99-milligram tablets with meals will do the trick. Magnesium and calcium are easiest to consume in pill form, and 500 milligrams of magnesium taken”

“Magnesium and calcium are easiest to consume in pill form, and 500 milligrams of magnesium taken prior to bed will also improve sleep.”

“I’M TRAVELLING AND EATING IN AIRPORTS? If you’re airport-hopping and cannot find a Mexican restaurant or grill, grab a bag of raw almonds or walnuts at a kiosk and commit to consuming no starch for the remainder of your travel time. There are enough calories in that single bag to give you two to three small “meals” and get you through a full 12 hours. Most airports also have chicken salads (omit dressings besides olive oil or vinegar) that you can combine with the nuts.”

“I have been going to the gym 5x/week, 2 hours on the treadmill plus a one hour spin class 2x a week.… I have been doing this for almost three months.”

“his favorite”

“There are actually 10 times more bacterial cells in your body than human cells: 100 trillion of them to 10 trillion of you.”

“Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only change forms. The”

Adding Muscle


  • Occam's Protocol is a four-week lifting program designed for maximal muscle growth, with a focus on full-body workouts and a high-calorie diet.
  • The program includes only compound movements performed at a cadence of five seconds up, five seconds down (5/5).
  • It consists of three workouts per week: two full-body sessions and one upper body session.
  • The exercises include squats, deadlifts, bench presses, rows, and presses, with variations for the upper body session.
  • The program emphasizes progressive overload through the use of accommodating resistance and increasing weight as soon as the previous workout's weight becomes easy.
  • Adequate rest is essential, with three minutes between sets and one to two days between workouts.
  • Myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy are different types of muscle growth; myofibrillar growth focuses on maximal strength, while sarcoplasmic growth targets maximal size and anaerobic fatigue resistance.
  • Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is not just "water weight" but rather an increase in the volume of fluid and other substances in the muscle, leading to increased size and some strength gains.
  • To avoid plateauing, consider a split routine with two full-body workouts per week and one upper body session if you are unconditioned or deconditioned.


“1. She switched her breakfast to a high-protein meal (at least 30% protein) à la the Slow-Carb Diet. Her favorite: spinach, black beans, and egg whites (one-third of a carton of Eggology liquid egg whites) with cayenne pepper flakes. 2. Three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), she performed a simple sequence of three exercises prior to breakfast, all of which are illustrated in the next few pages: One set: 20 two-legged glute activation raises from the floor One set: 15 flying dogs, one set each side One set: 50 kettlebell swings (For you: start with a weight that allows you to do 20 perfect repetitions but no more than 30. In other words, start with a weight, no less than 20 pounds, that you can “grow into.”

“The easiest way to learn the swing is based on a method developed by Zar Horton: Stand with the kettlebell directly between the middle of your feet. Bend down and do deadlifts (head up,”

“Biology isn't about blunt force.”

“Feel free to lift together, but fail alone.”

Improving Sex


  • Men's fertility is declining due to environmental factors and lifestyle choices.
  • Sperm banks allow men to store their sperm for future use, ensuring they can have biological children even if they become infertile or wish to have children later in life.
  • The process involves making six deposits for each child you want to have, with a 48-hour abstinence period before each deposit.
  • Sperm banks often provide pornography for donors during the deposit process, which can be a challenge for some men due to the presence of other people and unexpected porn selections.
  • Costs include an initial consultation and STD testing, the cost per sample frozen, and annual storage fees.
  • It's important to use a cell phone case that reduces radiation exposure, as excessive radiation has been linked to fertility issues.

Perfecting Sleep


  • Polyphasic sleep involves breaking up sleep into multiple segments throughout the day instead of one long sleep at night.
  • The Everyman and Siesta methods are popular approaches to polyphasic sleep, with the Everyman method having more naps and the Siesta method having just one nap during the day.
  • The Uberman method involves six naps and no core sleep, allowing for only two hours of sleep per day. However, it requires strict adherence to nap times.
  • Monophasic sleep is the traditional eight-hour sleep at night schedule.
  • The benefits of polyphasic sleep include increased productivity, more free time, and feeling rested even with less sleep.
  • The challenges of polyphasic sleep include the need for strict adherence to nap times and the initial adjustment period.
  • Tools and resources for polyphasic sleep include Dustin Curtis' blog, Steve Pavlina's sleep logs, and online forums such as
  • Key takeaways: Polyphasic sleep involves breaking up sleep into multiple segments throughout the day instead of one long sleep at night, with various methods and approaches available; benefits include increased productivity and more free time, but challenges include strict adherence to nap times and initial adjustment period; resources for learning about and practicing polyphasic sleep include online forums, Steve Pavlina's logs, and Dustin Curtis' blog.

Reversing Injuries


  • The Critical Four exercises are designed to address common imbalances and improve overall functional fitness.
  • The Chop and Lift (C&L) exercise targets the obliques, hip rotators, and spinal stabilizers.
  • The Turkish Get-Up (TGU) is a complex movement that addresses multiple planes of motion and requires significant core stability and control.
  • The Cross-Body One-Arm Single-Leg Deadlift (1SDL) strengthens the deep muscles of the hip, improving balance and promoting symmetry between sides.
  • Practice the Two-Arm Single-Leg Deadlift (2SDL) before moving to the One-Arm Single-Leg Deadlift (1SDL) for added stability and balance on one leg.
  • Use light weights for the 2SDL and practice sets of 3-5 repetitions on each side.
  • Focus on proper form, keeping the hips hinged and the torso upright, and maintaining a strong grip.
  • Perform sets of one repetition for the 1SDL, ensuring proper setup before each rep.
  • Utilize tools such as resistance bands or exercise machines as alternatives for the C&L when traveling or at home.


“The supine groin progressive, the most inconvenient, unusual, and time-consuming of the five, is the singular most effective tool I’ve found for eliminating psoas and other hip flexor tightness to unlock the pelvis and relieve hamstring tightness.”

“With a decrease in the number of pirates, there has been an increase in global warming over the same period. Therefore, global warming is caused by a lack of pirates. Even more compelling: Somalia has the highest number of Pirates AND the lowest Carbon emissions of any country. Coincidence?”

Running Faster and Farther


  • Brian MacKenzie's CrossFit Endurance program focuses on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for endurance athletes, with an emphasis on functional movements and a Paleo diet.
  • The primary goal is to improve overall fitness by building strength, power, and aerobic capacity.
  • MacKenzie suggests a 12-week program consisting of three weekly workouts: a metabolic conditioning workout, a gym session focusing on strength and power, and a long endurance run or ride.
  • The HIIT sessions involve 30 seconds of maximum effort followed by 4 minutes of rest, repeated multiple times for each exercise.
  • MacKenzie recommends using a metronome to maintain a consistent tempo during the high-intensity intervals and focuses on proper running form.
  • CrossFit Endurance also includes long, slow endurance sessions to build mental toughness and improve overall conditioning.
  • MacKenzie's program can be adapted for various endurance sports, including cycling, swimming, and trail running.
  • The Paleo diet is an essential component of the CrossFit Endurance program, focusing on whole, unprocessed foods to fuel workouts and improve overall health.
  • MacKenzie emphasizes the importance of proper recovery, including adequate sleep, stress management, and nutrition.
  • CrossFit Endurance encourages a supportive community environment through organized teams and workshops to help athletes reach their goals.

Getting Stronger


  • To add 100 pounds to your bench press in six months, follow a periodized training plan that includes:
    • Training the competitive, wide, and narrow grips
    • Increasing lean muscle mass by gaining weight (if necessary)
  • After completing a successful 12-week cycle, it's important to have a 4-6 week interim phase to allow the body to reset.
  • The interim phase can involve heavy dumbbell pressing while maintaining tension for a one-second pause at the chest.
  • Proper bench press form includes:
    • Arching your back and pushing shoulders down before bending arms
    • Keeping legs and glutes fully tensed throughout the movement
  • Bench alone with free weights and have a spotter help lift the bar off the supports.
  • Use an alternating grip for the bench press, like in the deadlift, to make the lift safer and easier on your shoulders.

From Swimming to Swinging


  • David Blaine is an endurance artist who holds records for breath holding and other extreme feats.
  • To hold your breath longer, practice deep breathing and purging exercises.
  • Deep breathing involves taking a big breath in through the mouth and exhaling slowly through almost-closed mouth with tongue pressed against lower teeth.
  • Purging is a strong exhalation followed by a big but faster inhalation.
  • Hold your breath for target durations, then take semi-purge breaths to recover.
  • Visualization techniques can help distract from the sensation of holding your breath.
  • Do not attempt these exercises in water or without proper supervision.

On Longer and Better Life


  • Caloric restriction (CR) and intermittent fasting (IF) may extend lifespan by activating autophagy, which clears damaged proteins from cells
  • Creatine monohydrate can protect against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
  • Reducing iron levels through blood donation may improve cardiovascular health and insulin sensitivity
  • Consuming 5-10 grams of creatine monohydrate daily for two consecutive weeks every two months can provide insurance against neurodegenerative diseases
  • Intermittent fasting protocols, such as Fast-5 or alternate day caloric restriction (ADCR), can mimic the life-extending effects of CR without significant calorie reduction overall
  • Protein cycling involves restricting protein intake to less than 5% of daily calories for one day per week to promote autophagy and cellular housekeeping
  • Iron reduction through phlebotomy, or bloodletting, can improve insulin sensitivity, reduce cancer-specific and all-cause deaths, and increase removal of environmental toxins from the body.


“Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued. —Socrates”

Closing Thoughts


  • Running endurance events can bring about significant personal growth and change, even if it's not immediately clear how it benefits your body.
  • Physical transformations, like weight loss or strength gains, can have unexpected social and emotional benefits.
  • Challenging yourself physically can lead to increased confidence and effectiveness in other areas of life.
  • The mind and body are connected; improving one can positively impact the other.
  • Focusing on measurable physical improvements can help prevent a reliance on external factors for self-worth.
  • Examples of individuals who continued to push themselves physically later in life demonstrate that it's never too late to reinvent yourself.


“Refuse to accept partial completeness.”


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