A Muscle Gain Experiment
Tim Ferriss recently posted an article explaining how he gained 34 pounds of muscle in 4 weeks. The best part: he claims it requires only 1 hour of gym time per week.
It sounds too good to be true. If sculpting a great body is so easy, why doesn’t everybody do it? I’m skeptical about Tim’s claims so I’ve decided to make an experiment of it.
I’m doing this for three reasons:
- Motivation – Documenting my progress will motivate me to stick with the program and record my exercise and diet activities in detail. In the past I’ve had difficulty creating and following a structured diet and exercise program because I’d lose interest. Turning exercise into a scientific experiment will stimulate my competitiveness.
- Validation – Most people will dismiss Tim’s claims as too ridiculous to be true and never go about trying them. But what if they are true? Being able to get in great shape with only an hour of gym time a week could improve the lives of many people. If I prove his claims true, it could motivate other people to get in shape. If I prove them false, at least we’ll know he’s full of it.
- Curiosity - I have a hunch he isn’t full of it. At least not completely. Most of his recommendations are practical and intuitive. I’ve read similar suggestions before but never acted on them in a systematic manner. I’m curious to see how well it works.
Muscle Gain Routine
The routine Tim proposes consists of 6 principles.
- Follow the recommendations for one-set-to-failure from the little-known muscle gain program, but with lower frequency (maximum of twice per week) and with at least 3 minutes between exercises.
- Perform every repetition with a 5/5 cadence (5 seconds up, 5 seconds down) to eliminate momentum and ensure constant load.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Personal Muscle Gain Implementation
I don’t actually want to gain 34 pounds of muscle. My goal is to gain 10-15 pounds of muscle while losing 5-10 pounds of body fat, so I’m going to slightly modify the program. Instead of consuming massive amounts of protein and calories, I’m going to consume a high amount of protein (1 shake per day, plus high protein diet) and stick to Tim’s slow carb diet to reduce body fat. I’ll follow the exercise recommendations as closely as possible.
Starting today, I’ll record everything I eat and every exercise I do. Each week I’ll evaluate my progress and write a short summary post. At the end of 1 month, I’ll post the results of the experiment (including changes in body weight and before-and-after photos). I’m excited to get started and discover the truth about these remarkable claims.