…..An n of 1, but then that is the point
The release of the Hour Body comes in a few weeks and I was lucky enough to get a draft copy and the final hardback from the publishers, Crown. Cheers Crown. As I recover from a terrifyingly hot Bikram yoga session this morning I’ll just write a quick and dirty mini review here.
The book will no doubt garner a lot of attention; Tim Ferriss is a promotion ninja, but does the product stand up to the hype?
The first thing that strikes you is that it is quite big (552 pages) with a good deal of information. This means of course there’s a lot of places in this text that the exercise, performance and health community will start picking at. In fact I reckon there will be a bit of internet mud slinging when many get round to reading it – all good for sales though I guess – not least because there’s a lot of ‘pro tips’ in here that people like me like to keep to themselves!
Clearly one facet of the book that will come under attack is the personal aspect; there’s a huge amount of n=1, it is after all the journey of one man, Tim, conducting experiments on himself.
Another issue is that the whole book has the feel of jumping around, it doesn’t feel too joined up, even within chapters, but this is not the point. As Ferriss points put in the book, it’s a shopping list of performance hacks, tricks and tips to work on specific details – a list driven by the readers of his blog; he asked them what they wanted to read about. So, identify your specific need or goal, go down the index and find the relevant section.
But does this mean it’s not right for a more general population? Actually there’s a lot of general useful info that if followed would help a MANY of those out there in gyms across the world struggling to get to health and fitness goals. A good example is the clear and concise nature of the info on the Slow Carb diet with a food matrix which will certainly make things clearer for many. The different levels of complexity of the information given [read: suggested protocols] will make it useful for all levels.
Finally it is very well written with light easy prose and lots of interesting anecdotes. For a book this size that is important.
For my own part there are sections I am not happy with for example the section on bodybuilding with ultra low volume type training a la HIT, is not one I like. I think the issues of Tim’s before and after shots, his ‘re-gaining’ of muscle versus building it from scratch etc have been racked over enough. For me I just don’t think that most people reading the book could follow the protocol working with the right intensity [effort], this though is an example of the kind of picking that I mentioned above! Ferriss’ advice will work for many and might be a useful start for raw beginners
This all said any review of this book is incomplete without reviewing the many many online resources – which aren’t up as of this moment so I’ll not say too much more at this point.
So, do I like the book? Yes.
Is it limited? Again, yes but show me a book in this genre that isn’t.
The book is a menu to dip in and out of, it’s a useful, practical a journal of one man doing things to himself so that you don’t have to – you just have to remember both these factors as you read through it…
Another one for the useful, fun reads, pile:
Though I have had the draft for a while I’ve been holding off until seeing the final published version of the 4HB. I’ll also update with more specific info after the book is on general release
ABOUT THE 4HB AUTHOR
TIMOTHY FERRISS, nominated as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People of 2007,” is author of the #1 New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and BusinessWeek bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek, which has been published in 35 languages.
WIRED magazine has called Tim “The Superman of Silicon Valley” for his manipulation of the human body. He is a tango world record holder, former national kickboxing champion (Sanshou), guest lecturer at Princeton University, and faculty member at Singularity University, based at NASA Ames Research Center.
When not acting as a human guinea pig, Tim enjoys speaking to organizations ranging from Nike to the Harvard School of Public Health.
For a more extended bio and other odd credentials, please click here.
Target by Bill Frymire
New years resolutions rethink:
Successful goal setting
Every week I see people in clinic with goals. Some may not know they have goals, others have definite goals but they may be the wrong ones for that moment. I often spend a lot of time with people focusing on their aspirations and plans and sorting through what they want to achieve, the motivations for these aims and how they fit into the big health and lifestyle picture.
A goal is the picture you have in your head of where you want to be. Taking them from merely thoughts and notions and making them reality means first defining them in a few ways, giving them the qualities they require to be of use to you. This means asking a few questions and giving your goals some important characteristics; transforming them from just hope and dreams on a piece of paper into a lynchpin of long term success:
Are they pointless?
Giving up crisps and cakes for January may be a healthy gesture, but what in the great scheme of things is this going to accomplish other than a) making you want crisps and cakes a LOT more and b) using up all that willpower that could be better spent.
If however, it changes a behaviour long term i.e. eating a lot less snacks foods then it has been beneficial but ask yourself, is it really going to achieve this?
Are they the right ones?
Increasing quality and duration for better health and recovery.
...like a baby
Whilst it’s hard to put a finger on the actualities of sleep, everyone knows when they haven’t had enough. So what you do you do to increase quality and duration aiding both mental and physical processes?
When sleeping, the body goes through processes that help you deal with stress, both physical and mental. Information is processed, a hormonal milieu is produced – including growth hormone and testosterone.
Sleep has been shown to have an effect upon short term markers of health like ability to mentally focus, coordination, reaction times, as well as longer term effects such as body composition, glucose metabolism and of course the ultimate – life expectancy itself.
What s sleep and how does it work?
Sleep is akin to a reboot and defrag that you might use on your laptop. It is partway between clear out & indexing, mixed with a physical overhaul. The brains ‘programming’ takes it thought a series of cycles whilst sleeping, indeed it has been suggested that it is not duration that counts, but rather the number of cycles you go through. Read more..
Sometimes you see something so stupid that it just might work….
There’s a lot of hype surrounding these shoes so I was reluctant to take the plunge and buy a pair, however I was on the look out for something thin soled and light to replace my Nike aqua socks, and a piece of footwear more suited to the outdoor martial arts and kettlebell training I do.
When I lived in Aus I basically lived in flipflops for 9 months of the year and since returning I’ve noticed a real reduction in foot endurance and strength – a problem for what I like to do. These purport to the be the answer. Why? Read more..
There’s a world of information out here in internet land but what exercise program should you follow? Which is best for fitness and dropping fat the quickest? What SHOULD you do???… Just MOVE!
Picture: Or Hiltch
In a world of information and the overload it brings, it is easy to end up doing nothing, hell, forums and chat rooms are full of people so busy discussing health and fitness they forget to do the important bit and actually act upon the information.
There’s a whole load of different ways to train out there but though the methods may differ the programs, packages and everyday practicalities have the same qualities. Look for
- Safety: injured isn’t a good way to get fit is it?
- Quality: this can mean a lot of things but what it doesn’t mean is slogging your self mindlessly
- Variety: yoga, weights, running, pilates, kettlebells… the list is endless. They are all just TOOLS in a toolbox. Do a variety of different tasks and ones that involve different levels of resistance, time and other qualities like flexibility.
- Progression: look to make things a little more challenging as you get fitter.
- Consistency: you need to repeatedly train to get the full effect, this doesn’t mean doing the same workout out day in day out or even for the same day each week but rather consistently training hard. This isn’t of course going to happen for most unless to have…
- FUN!: training should be challenging but also fun. Fitness is a journey not a destination. I want my clients to be healthy now, I want them to be healthy in years to come. Do what you like doing and enjoy the ride.
So what does this mean practically? How do you get these qualities into your training? Here’s some tips…
1) Join and gym with a partner or friend and try different classes and explore different section of the gym
2) Don’t confine yourself to weights only or cardio only – cross train
3) Use cardio wisely and get a variety: do short fast rows, longer runs, cycle sprints… mix it up
4) Join a sports club!
5) Most importantly…. develop and active hobby or one that involves activity when you’re doing something else. I do Aikido, you may choose cycling, walking, gymnastics, parkour…. JUST DO SOMETHING!
With obesity on the rise you can’t afford to become part of the statistics. Remember health, vitality and fitness is not found in an infomercial product or the latest slimming pill, it a lifestyle. You have to internalise that want drive and desire to stay fit – but remember it is a lot easier when you’re having fun at the same time.
In the first part of this blog on Batched Workouts we went over why you might want to try these time saving intensity increasing sessions, the reasons were as follows:
Decreased traveling time
Decreased traveling expense (and stress and pollution!)
Decreased time spent warming up
Increased training density (the amount of work in a short time)
Freeing up whole days where no evening is used up or no kit needs to be carried
Allowing longer for recovery periods
Fits between sports activity more easily
Decreased duration needed for steady state cardio
Toady we’ll look a little bit closer at the format and the types of workout
More on the format or Batched workouts
The format for the Batch Workouts are a variation on the following theme
Warm-up (including mobility work)
- Weights One: compound lifts (push pull legs)
- Metabolic conditioning
- Weights Two: Isolation or machines (depending upon needs)
- Steady state cardiovascualr work (dependent upon needs)
- Warm-down (including strength and prehab)
The different movements and drills must be in that order for you to be able to perform them well. The warm-up is obvious but there’s no stretching there just mobilisation drills. Static stretching can impact upon your ability to lift heavy, switching the muscle off. Next the intense heavy compound weights come before the metabolic conditioning for obvious reasons – you will be too fatigued after. However you will notice there’s another weights session. This is the isolation and/or machine only session and for those looking for muscle gains in certain groups one common example is arms or shoulders. They are placed after the met. con. session as if they were before they would compromise your ability to do the compound exercises involved in the different met con drills. Sure you want be able to go as hard on them but the ‘pre fatigue’ of the drills will mean the muscle will be smoked afterwards.
The warm-down is where stretching and prehab movements can be incorporated.
A batched workout example
- Warm-up (including mobility work)
- Weights One: Deadlift, bodybuilder style bench, barbell row 5×5
- Metabolic conditioning: for time superset dumbbell thrusters & pull-ups 20, 15, 10, 5 reps
- Weights Two: Lateral raises, bicpes preacher curles
- Steady state cardiovascular work: 15 minutes bike
- Warm-down: Light stretching etc
Different sessions for different goals
Different people have different goals and needs, below is an examples of how you may change similar sessions to incorporate different goals
Physique: hypertrophy (muscle gain) and conditioning
- Warm-up (including mobility work)
- Weights One 5×5: Deadlift, bodybuilder style bench, barbell row
- Metabolic conditioning: dumbbell thrusters, pull-ups 20, 15, 10, 5
- Weights Two: a1 rear lateral raises, a2 incline flye. b1 biceps preacher curls a2 Close grip bench
- Steady state cardiovascular work: 0 minutes
Physique: fat loss and muscle maintainance
- Warm-up (including mobility work)
- Weights One 5×5: Deadlift, bodybuilder style bench, barbell row
- Metabolic conditioning: dumbbell thrusters, pull-ups 20, 15, 10, 5
- Weights Two: a1 rear lateral raises, a2 bicpes preacher curls
- Steady state cardiovascular work: 15 minutes
- Warm-up (including mobility work)
- Weights One 5×5: Olympic lift, split squats, unilateral heavy upper body work
- Metabolic conditioning: sled pushing
- Weights Two: twisting movements like cable chest press and rows
- Steady state cardiovascular work: 15 minutes (in required)
(this would of course be one of two or three session the other having plyometric drils etc)
If you’re detained or a novice then these types of training sessions are either 1) not for you or 2) going to have to be altered so allow you to get the best out of them, you may even wish to leave out the metabolic conditioning al together:
- Weights: squat, dumbbell bench press, dumbbell row, external rotations
- Difficult but steady state cardiovascular work: 20 mins rowing machine and bike
Nutrition to support this batching
We all know that what you eat can have a great effect on how you perform in the gym, with the slightly long sessions of a batched workout you have to turn your attention to fueling and recovery. There’s a couple of ways to do this (in my preferred order)
- A shake containing higher GI carbs and protein just before during and afterwards.
- A shake containing lower glycmeic index carbs 15 mins before and then another straight afterwards
- A meal of solid protein and low GI carbs 2 hours before then sipping a recovery drink towards the end of the session.
This would sit on top of your normal healthy diet based on lots of fibrous veg, lean meats and fish with nuts, seeds, fruit, whole grains as required.
Get more good, interesting, tasty foods in your life, support good health and great body and cut the mess and stress.
(clock design M&Co. 5 O’Clock, Tibor and Maria Kalman)
Practically speaking, which is what this blog is all about, ‘diet’ is only a small part of the nutrition picture, it is also the lifestyle you lead, the types of cooking you like to do or find easy. These are all things that have a huge influence on what goes into your mouth.
When we looked at Batched Training we discussed the methods you would use to switch up your training focusing more on the things that work and saving yourself a LOT of time in the process. Here we’ll try and cover a few ideas that may work for diet and nutrition meaning less time stress and mess but rather a better more interesting diet, better health and a better body.
Batching for those who don’t know is the process of saving up similar tasks and doing them together to save all the time you spend in preparation. If you’re not convinced I have put more examples in the Batched Training entry. With exercise this would be getting to the gym, getting changed, showering, warming up etc. When talking about diet and nutrition you would think about things such as chopping vegetables, cooking, washing up of filling the machine and so on.
Below are some examples of Batching hacks I use in clinic.
Batch one: Food list and food shopping
Put together a lists of foods that you will go through in the week, put in a ‘core’ of good foods; lean meats, veg, pulses, grains, quality dairy etc. This is make things a lot easier, healthier and save you money. You can even go so far as putting together a menu for the week and buying just those foods.
If you’re leading a busy hectic life you need to do one thing first off: buy at least some of your food on-line.
We would all like to be able to shop locally, buying fresh ingredients on the day and you can when you have time but you have to safeguard your diet, this means buying good choices every week including
- Lean meats (pref organic with lots of game etc)
- Lots of fibrous vegetables
- Nuts & seeds
- Tins of pulses, tomatoes etc
- Frozen vegetables as a back up
With on-line shopping not only do you not have to travel there and back (remember your time is money) and by using the proforma shopping lists from you account to make it an almost one click experience, even more time saved. By using tools like MySpupermarket you can even save money filling your basket and comparing the supermarkets.
So time and money saved.
Batch two: Food preparation
I am a big fan of chopped frozen veg for busy people. If it’s a choice between that and not eating veg then go for it. When your shopping arrives you can take 10 mins to dice up a load of veg and meat , divide into usable portions and freeze for use later in the week. Seems stupid but this will save LOTS of time.
Batch three: Cook up a load of meals all at once
Did you know you can cook more than one meal at once. Obvious I know, but you’d be surprised the amount of people that haven’t though about this. Dedicate 90 mins somewhere in the week to cooking up a load of stews, stir fry soups etc and store them in the fridge and freezer to eat through the week.
You can also use the double dinner trick as well; just cook twice as much as you need and take to work the next day (if office politics allows!), it’s simple, obvious buy most people forget about this. Of course it works better for some dished than others – scrambled eggs would not be a good choice here!
This also works for portion of protein like chicken breasts, salmon etc. Cook them all at once and store for use in other dishes.
The ‘Pret Audit’: batching your lunch fact finding and decisions
Go to the 3 nearest sandwich shops to work, select 4 dishes that comply to your needs for example; maybe you’re carrying a little too much weight and need to cut down on carbs and/or fats and need to up the protein? Write down the choices (that is very important) and keep this list in your desk draw.
When at work with no food from home look at the list make your selection (a 1st and 2snd choice from the same place) then leave to buy it.
Batch five: Supplements
In an earlier blog I discussed the types of Supplements people may use in the context of a busy but healthy lifestyle. Many people use these proteins, vitamins, fish oils, herbs etc but most have trouble remembering to take them every day. By dividing them down into packs using small ziplock bags containing all the pills and capsules for each day you can just grab and go in the morning confident in the knowledge that all you need is there.
This also works for protein powders as well though by simply having a tub at work in the desk draw and one at home there’s little need for this.
The above hacks swing between really obvious, a bit geeky and simply really boring but they do work. I encourage you to give them all a god for just 2 weeks (the second week is where the magic really kicks in) and see how much time this frees up leaving you to enjoy life and not be tied to the cooker
Many of you interested in lifestyle redesign, efficient and effective working techniques and the like will have heard about ‘batching’. In a nutshell it is the process of saving a load of similar tasks up to do at the same time with the aim of decreasing the amount time wasted switching between different tasks. It works incredibly for email, filing, sending post, food shopping (more on this is the ‘Batching your diet’ post) and is a powerful ‘lifehack’, is there any way to employ this trick with health and fitness though?
Recently I have been working with more and more ‘time poor’ people and seeing as it’s so useful elsewhere you have to ask yourself ‘can bathcing work for training and gym time?’
I think it can but you have to think about the structure of your training, how you support this training with diet and also think about how to would change the format dependent upon goals and fitness levels
Now before we go on this is aimed at those go really just go to the gym to train, if you play sports then you can use the fact that you condition yourself whilst competing meaning that you really just need to the fill the gaps with properly structured strength work (supported by good diet!) every 2-4 days, this is what Tim Ferris (author of 4-Hour Workweek or the 4HWW) did with quite spectacular results here
The advantages of Batched Training
Let’s face it, getting to the gym, changing twice, showering and getting back is time consuming, by batching your training you are going to save a lot of time through the week and also free up whole evenings, mornings or lunch hours for other things be it socializing or ‘personal admin’.
Another advantage is it will force you to focus on the really important things that count, meaning you loose the junk exercises, and shake up your training.
- Decreased traveling time
- Decreased traveling expense (and pollution)
- Decreased time spent warming up
- Increased training density (the amount of work in a short time)
- Freeing up whole days where no evening is used up or no kit needs to be carried
- Allowing longer for recovery periods
- Fits between sports activity more easily
- Decreased duration needed for steady state cardio
shall I go on?…..
OK so time saved and better quality training blah blah blah, but there must be a catch?….
Possible problems and pitfalls
OK so we all know that you can’t spend hours in the gym doing quality training, if you’re training hard there simply isn’t the energy so ‘saving up’ workouts and doing them side by side isn’t going going to cut it.
Also you are going to have to accept that these batched training sessions are going to be hard work, however as discussed above this is probably an advantage – the more effort yo put in, even just in short bouts, the better your results will be.
Structures and batching by goals
There are certain types of exercise you want to look at when putting together a structure for these sessions; they are the training methods you will employ to increase fitness and better your physique they are (with components of fitness in breackets)
- weights (strength power etc)
- cardio (cardiovascular health)
- lactatate/metabolic work (metabolic conditioning, strength endurance, also corodination)
- prehab and mobility/flexibility (range of motion, flexibility, muscle and joint health etc)
You have to put all these things in the right order to allow for management of fatigue and to et the most out of each type of exercise, through a lot of experimentation (on myself and others) I have found his to be the following
The basic template
- High intensity weights:25 to 40 mins
- Metabolic training#
- Weights two (if needed)
- Longer duration steady state cardio.
If you compare the average time invested every week for someone looking to get a lean muscular physique it may look like this
- Monday: Weights: 1hour
- Tuesday: Metabolic type conditioning: 25mins
- Wednesday: Weights and steady state cardiovascular training: 40 mins
- Thursday: rest.
- Friday: Weights: 1 hour
- Sunday: Steady state cardiovascular training: 40 mins
Total time invested: 5 hours 50 (including training plus 25 mins changing traveling each time)
Compare this to the batched method
- Monday: Batch one: 1 hour 15mins
- Tuesday: off
- Wednesday: off
- Thursday: Batch two: 1 hour
- Friday: off
- Sunday: off
Total time invested: 3hour 5 mins (including training plus 25 mins changing traveling each time)
Time saved per week 2 hours 45 mins, that’s 143 hours a year or almost 1 week!
In part two I’ll go into the batches used in the above example, how to change the plan up for different goals and we’ll also look at how to fuel these sessions
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or… how I learned to build muscle and burn the fat off in 15 mins
I hate gyms.
The techno, the mal-adjusted attitudes of some of the members, the people sitting on cycles reading newspapers wasting their time…. it’s hell. I want to get in and out as quickly as possible but I also want to look good and be healthy.
How do you do this, after all if you read the fitness magazine you’ll see they constantly run these 45 minute workouts?
Ignore them. Train smart, train short.
By choosing exercises that use the large muscle groups and by using relatively high loads you stimulate muscle tissue, by combining them you test the heart and lungs and also put yourself in a fat burning mode stripping off more fat than the person cycling that exercise bike for 30 minutes ever will.
But, if they’re so good what don’t you here more about these types of workout?
The problem is they can be daunting and in a world where gyms and PT’s like to, and in many cases need to work in a conservative fashion, training their clients but not pushing them past their comfort level, they are really neglected.
Why you should do these
1) They take a few minutes, BUT
2) help develop and extremely high level of fitness that carries over into your other training AND
3) Burns the fat away for hours AFTER you leave the gym increasing the amount of fat your body burns for sometime after – even when you’re sitting in front of the TV that night.
Strength endurance and lactate threshold type training boosts the kind of qualities that a mixed martial artist or wrestler may need. In my time working with martial artists an athletes I have used these type of drills to get people performing at high levels for extended periods of time, here’s three examples
With all these watch the loads, you will get tired quickly so be a little conservative.
all done for 4 sets at 16, 14, 12, 10 reps with 45 seconds rest between sets.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 reps of the following movements
dumbell bench press
pull ups (or pull downs)
deadlift or deadlift highpulls
hanging leg raises (hanging from pull-up bar)
shoot through for the best time you can get only stopping when yo absolutely have to
10, 8, 6, 5, 4 reps of the following
bent over rows
Do 10 reps of each, don’t stop, push on through without letting go of the bar. Rest for 1 minute and then repeat with 8 reps, rest one minute and 6 reps and so on.
Pick one of the above and do it today
Always make sure that you’re OK to train at these high intensities by getting checked by the doctor before undertaking physical exercise.