The word therblig refers to the number of movements required to complete a task. Spelled backwards, and regarding the “th” as one letter, therblig translates into Gilbreth. The word was invented by Lillian and Frank Gilbreth, efficiency experts raising 12 kids who were the subject of the 1948 biographical book and 1950 movie Cheaper by the Dozen. It’s also a word that could describe Tim Ferriss, author of an exciting new book called The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman , which on January 2, 2011 became a #1 New York Times bestseller.
Ferriss is best known as the author of The 4-Hour Workweek, a #1 New York Times bestseller (2007) that has been translated into 35 languages. That book shows how to work more effectively so you can enjoy the things you want in life now, which is in contrast to the conventional approach of working hard now to plan for a comfortable retirement. Ferriss’s new book is an extension of that theme, as it’s the author’s personal exploration into trying to discover the most time efficient and effective ways to train your body to achieve optimal athletic and physical fitness.
Before going any further into this review, I want to give you a heads-up about some things. First, Tim approached me during the writing of this book to help him as a resource person on a variety of topics. Turns out we were mutual fans, I loved The 4-Hour Workweek (I wish he wrote it 40 years ago, would have made my life easier), and he was a fan of mine, reading my column and articles in Muscle Media when he was in his teenage years. So obviously, my review can be considered biased. Second, although much of the information applies to both men and women, it’s written from a male perspective. And third, the book is about the author’s experience and represents his lay opinion – it is not meant to take the place of medical advice from appropriate health care practitioners. For example, Ferriss found that wearing a type of shoe that makes the owner look a bit like a fully certified nerd helped resolve his chronic lower back problem – this does not guarantee that these shoes will help resolve a chronic back problem you might have.
Another thing to consider before reading this book, and which Ferriss points out in his introduction, is that the book is 571 pages long! Some of the material you might not be interested in, such as the chapter on how to hit a baseball farther or the one on holding your breath longer. As a practical (and time saving!) solution that fits into his 4-hour workweek philosophy of “selective ignorance,” Ferriss says that the average person will probably find about 150 pages that are applicable to them, and that the reader should skim the table of contents to find those pages – but hey, it’s a fun read, and I’m confident that many readers will go through it cover to cover, reading several sections many times.
Catch Him If You Can
One of the first questions any publisher asks an author is “What makes you uniquely qualified to write this book?” In the case of The 4-Hour Body, Ferriss has a great answer. He speaks five languages, which comes in handy since his interests lead him all around the world, with activities that include break dancing in Taiwan, competing in hurling in Ireland, horseback archery in Japan and kickboxing in China. Consider Ferriss a composite of Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Nye the science guy!
In the course of experiencing all these activities, Ferriss was able to meet, be trained by, and get treated by many of the world’s foremost authorities on physical performance. What he learned from these experts is what he shares with the reader of The 4-Hour Body.
In addition to having enjoyed his first book, I take a special interest in Ferriss, as he came to New York to attend my PIMST seminar in December 2009. During the seminar Ferriss found that he had extremely poor internal rotation of the shoulder, and he approached me during a break to ask for recommendations on how to correct it. After assessing the shoulder, I thought that Ferriss would be a good candidate for the soft tissue treatment known as ART®, and I decided to give the class a demonstration, with Ferriss being the demonstratee. His book tells about the dramatic increase in range of motion he experienced after just one session, along with a short history of this valuable training method developed by Dr. Mike Leahy.
Over 50 topics are covered in Ferriss’s book, as you can see by taking a look at the table of contents:
Thinner, Bigger, Faster, Stronger? How to Use This Book
Fundamentals – First and Foremost
The Minimum Effective Dose: From Microwaves to Fat-Loss
Rules That Change the Rules: Everything Popular Is Wrong
Ground Zero – Getting Started and Swaraj
The Harajuku Moment: The Decision to Become a Complete Human
Elusive Bodyfat: Where Are You Really?
From Photos to Fear: Making Failure Impossible
The Slow-Carb Diet I: How to Lose 20 Pounds in 30 Days Without Exercise
The Slow-Carb Diet II: The Finer Points and Common Questions
Damage Control: Preventing Fat Gain When You Binge
The Four Horsemen of Fat-Loss
Ice Age: Mastering Temperature to Manipulate Weight
The Glucose Switch: Beautiful Number 100
The Last Mile: Losing the Final 5-10 Pounds
Building the Perfect Posterior (or Losing 100+ Pounds)
Six-Minute Abs: Two Exercises That Actually Work
From Geek to Freak: How to Gain 34 Pounds in 28 Days
Occam’s Protocol I: A Minimalist Approach to Mass
Occam’s Protocol II: The Finer Points
The 15-Minute Female Orgasm – Part Un
The 15-Minute Female Orgasm – Part Deux
Sex Machine I: Adventures in Tripling Testosterone
Happy Endings and Doubling Sperm Count
Engineering the Perfect Night’s Sleep
Becoming Uberman: Sleeping Less with Polyphasic Sleep
Reversing “Permanent” Injuries
How to Pay for a Beach Vacation with One Hospital Visit
Pre-Hab: Injury-Proofing the Body
Running Faster and Farther
Hacking the NFL Combine I: Preliminaries – Jumping Higher
Hacking the NFL Combine II: Running Faster
Ultraendurance I: Going from 5K to 50K in 12 Weeks – Phase I
Ultraendurance II: Going from 5K to 50K in 12 Weeks – Phase II
Effortless Superhuman: Breaking World Records with Barry Ross
Eating the Elephant: How to Add 100 Pounds to Your Bench Press
From Swimming to Swinging
How I Learned to Swim Effortlessly in 10 Days
The Architecture of Babe Ruth
How to Hold Your Breath Longer Than Houdini
On Longer and Better Life
Living Forever: Vaccines, Bleeding, and Other Fun
Closing Thoughts: The Trojan Horse
Besides those subjects, Ferriss includes a lot of bonus material. For example, he has an excellent discussion on how to spot bad science. And each chapter comes with online resources for those who want to delve deeper into a particular topic – these references alone are worth the price of the book.
What I really LIKE about Tim is an attitude we both share. First, do your best to find the most scientific way to do something. Two, if it can be improved and yet there is no one who has scientifically demonstrated in a peer reviewed scientific paper, BE THE FIRST!
As Ghandi said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
If you are still not convinced about the value of this book, go to Ferriss’s website, www.fourhourbody.com, where you can read a sample chapter from the book and learn much more about this amazing man’s life experiences. After a few minutes on his website I’m sure you’ll come away with at least a dozen reasons why you need to head to the nearest bookstore ASAP and pick up a copy of Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Body!
Click here to purchase The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman