Yay! The long-awaited 4-Hour Body from Tim Ferriss is here. It took me about two weeks to find time to open the book but once I did, I couldn’t put it down for an entire day. And the good news is you can find out what all the hype is about because I’m giving away a signed copy of Tim Ferriss’ new book at the end of this blog post.

The book is broken into chunks and TF recommends reading only the chapters that apply to you, so here are my thoughts on the sections I read:

The Slow-Carb Diet I & II

I’ll admit that I tried this already based on the blog post: How to Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days… Without Doing Any Exercise

I tried it at a time in my life where I wasn’t very happy, and it worked, but I had other problems I needed to address at the time and didn’t keep up with it. Now, I’m in a better place in my life–I’m at the end of a really big project, and I’m generally happy and optimistic about my future.

Which means I’m more optimistic about sticking to this diet this time, and was happy with the expansions, the additional case studies, and the anecdotes that came in this section. Whether it works, I won’t know for several months, and I didn’t want to wait several months to post this. So instead, I followed TF’s instructions to fail-proof my ability to stick to the diet and I’ll share the results in a blog post later. Either way, if you found the original blog post interesting it is more than worth the $15 cost of this book to get two full chapters on these same concepts. (In other words, buy the book.)

Some Other Chapters

The book goes on for a few more chapters and touches on some cool stuff, like how to binge without gaining weight and how swimming in cold water can allow you to eat 12,000 calories a day (or something like that–I don’t remember the details). Basically, if you enjoy books like Freakonomics you will enjoy these parts of the book. They are entertaining, funny, and maybe slightly useful, but I didn’t absorb as much from these chapters because I’m not mentally ready to implement them yet.

This is actually a theme in the book. You aren’t supposed to read it straight through, and now I can see why–because you can’t implement all the information at once. So if you read this book, choose one thing you care about most–diet, muscle building, sleep, injuries, running–and only read that section. Once you’ve got that section incorporated into your routine, you can pick up another.

Of course, I didn’t take my own advice. I kept reading.

The 15-Minute Orgasm

This much-hyped-before-publication chapter is my least favorite section of the ones I read. The anecdote at the beginning about the Catholic girl who didn’t masturbate when she was younger induced eye-rolling (also, Taylor Momsen made this point last month and it only took about ten sentences) that continued as the chapter talked about positioning a pillow under your back (which everyone who has ever opened a Cosmo, ever, already knows).

You can tell a lot about what bothers you in a chunk of reading by the exact point where you stop. For me, this is on page 243 (US hardcover version) when I saw the diagram of TF’s “preferred position as a right-hander.”

So you should buy the book just so you can see what I’m talking about. The position is so unattractive and lacks so much intimacy that no woman would want to have an orgasm this way, much less one that goes on for 15 minutes.

And that sums up what bothers me about the entire chapter: it is scientific and boring, which is the opposite of what sex is supposed to be. Also, it doesn’t touch on anything a woman actually wants: intimacy, love, and a steady relationship with a man who treats her well.

I am not the only one who thought this: http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2010/12/27/tim-ferriss-diet/#comment-240100

And to be fair, there are several comments under the original link from males who defend the reason they found the chapter informative.

(But to be fairer to these men: your wife/fiance/girlfriend does not want a 15-minute orgasm. She wants to feel connected to you.)

Adventures in Tripling Testosterone

There was no reason for me to continue to this chapter, because this section is about sex again and is geared towards men, but I learned something else that I want to touch on. TF wants a wife and kids. Which is not clear from the previous 250 pages, because you couldn’t use yourself as a human science experiment if you had wife and kids, and you couldn’t keep experimenting if you wanted to have a wife and kids in the future. (I swear, I have a point here. Keep reading).

Engineering the Perfect Night’s Sleep

This was my last chapter in the 4-Hour Body, because I was interested in polyphasic sleep. But this is where the book broke down for me a second time. It’s not because I didn’t want to try it–who wouldn’t want an extra 4 hours of productivity per day? It broke down for me because my husband would kill me if I stayed up for half the night while he was sleeping.

The problem with polyphasic sleep is it’s completely impractical if you live with people who live in the real world because they will be on monophasic sleep and have different schedules than you. This was not addressed at all.

And this is a major problem with the book–it doesn’t address many of the emotional and psychological factors that hold most people back from achieving the lifestyle touted (aside from the slow-carb section, which thankfully, does).

This lead me to my last point about what I’ve read so far–you have to be careful about how you implement the advice in this book. It’s a great and truly informative book. But take and choose and modify and consider the consequences, especially if you live with other people that are more significant than roommates. There is a big difference between having great relationships (friends, parents, brothers, sisters, etc.), which I believe TF has, and having extremely intimate relationships where you are sharing your entire life–specifically your schedule–with other people. I don’t think the latter is addressed very well throughout the book, and some other very public figures who experiment with their lives this way (Steve Pavlina, for example), have ruined these intimate relationships in the process.

19 thoughts on “Review of the 4-Hour Body

  1. That’s quite a review Monica! Very helpful as I see the book is quite large.

    The whole idea of weight loss is quite interesting to me. The reason why I gain weight is simply b/c I enjoy eating a lot of good food which is unhealthy, and the feeling of gaining weight isn’t bad enough for me to change. Only when I get to the upper band of around 5-10 pounds beyond my steady state do I remember a poverty encounter I had in India that makes me revert back to normal.

    I think people gain weight b/c they enjoy the process, otherwise, they wouldn’t over eat b/c goodness knows millions of people in the world are starving.

    Rgds, Sam

    1. It turns out that the skinniest people in the world have a threshold like you’ve described. If they hit 10 lbs. above their ideal weight, they start cutting back until they return to their ideal or lower. I don’t think the diet is that useful for people who fluctuate within a 15-20 lb. range easily. I think it’s useful for people who gain the 10 lbs. and then can’t lose it.

      1. We definitely can’t all be skinny people, but why is it, when I trekked in the poorest parts of India, that all I saw were skinny to SUPER skinny people? Meanwhile, if you go on an economy airlines section trip in America, you will guaranteed to be sat next to someone who will steal your armest, bump you in the aisle, or overflow onto your seat?

        If someone wanted to lose the 10lbs after they gained the 10lbs, they could. I think we all know we can. It’s whether we want to lose it bad enough that matters vs. the pleasure of continued unhealthy eating and lack of exercise. If you’re a guy, you rationally think that it’s OK to let yourself go b/c your wife will still love you no matter what. Same thing in reverse for a woman. But if a guy’s wife admits that she is unhappy with all his weight gain, there is no doubt in my mind if the husband loves her, that he will shed his weight fast.

        I really believe those who are permanently 10lbs or more over their weight enjoy their eating and not-enough exercise to change, which is perfectly fine. Their friends and loved ones love them just the way they are. And they love themselves just the way they are.

        It’s when someone complains about being frustrated about being overweight, and still does nothing to change which is pretty comical. Because if they really wanted to change, they would. The contestants from The Biggest Loser suddenly lose 50-100lbs++ in 3 months b/c they want to and are motivated. Whereas for years beforehand, they do not.

        I believe people are rational. To not believe so would mean that people aren’t smart.

        Best, Sam

  2. I’m pretty sure it’s how you can give a woman an orgasm in 15 minutes, not give her a 15 minute orgasm. I haven’t read that chapter, but evidently some men felt betrayed by how that “marketed.” I very much agree with your assessment of “the other variables” TF doesn’t really account for… Like you mentioned, some of it’s not very plausible for someone living an “ordinary life.” One thing that bugs me about Paleo (which is what ‘his diet’ really is) is that it’s either A.) relatively expensive (yes, despite the example in the book) or it’s B.) time consuming b/c you are having to prepare the vegetables/meat, etc. To season and grill frozen chicken breasts and heat up frozen vegetables takes 15-20 minutes, and that’s gonna get old fast. That’s why people like frozen meals that take 3-5 minutes and they don’t have to wash the dishes after…


    1. Oh. I thought The 15 Minute Orgasm meant the latter. Proves that I didn’t read the chapter very well. Also, TF never corrected that in comments, so that’s pretty lame if you are right.

      As for the diet being time consuming, I haven’t found it to be so far… or at least, I’d rather do the diet than work out in the gym for an hour every day 🙂

  3. The 15 minute orgasm is what got me to buy The 4-Hour Body. I was not entirely unimpressed with the two chapters “The 15 Minute Female Orgasm”. There are a lot of useful illustrations and he lays out a fairly straightforward approach that he learned from a couple of his trainers – Nina Hartley and the folks at One Taste.

    As has been widely discussed, most of the ideas in the book may be new to Tim, but not necessarily new, and what he does is to give you a brief summary of what he has learned and where he learned it. Some topics he seems to have researched and experimented with a great deal more than others, sex seems to be one of the areas he has researched less.

    It’s an introduction though, and his enthusiasm is wonderful. His writing is easy to read and entertaining. There is some good stuff here like: have a clear beginning and ending to a sensual cycle; and that you can’t make someone else come – you can facilitate it, but ultimately its them. Other things are not so clear like why it’s important to really get comfortable so you don’t get tired while you’re “doing” a woman – he seems to have settled on what even he finds to be an awkward “doing” position. He omits to mention that you should use lubricant.

    There is a lot of confusion about the “15 minute” part – the book describes 15 minutes to get to orgasm, and many reviewers are confused or disappointed by this. The sources he mentions (Steve & Vera Bodansky, Lafayette Morehouse, One Taste) do discuss extended duration orgasms (orgasms lasting 15 minutes or an hour or three hours or more). Around the SF bay area, where Tim lives, there are actual demonstrations of varying length and intensity of female orgasm.

    Seems clear he is just getting started in this area – the way he describes it makes it seem like its a procedure you “do to a woman.” Hard to know what he was taught vs. what he retained. What I’ve seen from the Lafayette Morehouse folks – who, as Tim says, invented this stuff – is that “doing” is a ride you both take together, she the wave, you the surfer, two bodies, one orgasm. (the same is true for both genders).

    1. I think your knowledge of how Tim has constructed the book is useful. From that perspective, it’s easy to take the book for what it is rather than what I want it to be. I think he could go more in-depth in places but the book serves as a great reference for all the cool things you might want to investigate to make your body (and life) better. I think you are right, that several of the experiments are not TF’s expertise, but it’s smart that he included them because he can write about them, give speeches about them, etc. as he dives in deeper.

      Thanks again!

  4. I’ve been pretty curious about this book since its release and appreciate your review! You mentioned a couple of times wanting something that addressed some of the emotional and psychological factors that go along with eating, weight gain, weight loss, etc., and I’m currently reading Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth and that’s exactly what that book is about. She leads retreats for women who are compulsive eaters or who want to address weight loss and fitness, who should really be addressing things like anxiety, control factors, personal relationships, etc. I’m not done with it yet but so far it’s an interesting read, and if you’re looking to round out this one with the emotional/spiritual side of self-image and food, I’d recommend it!

    1. Thanks Doniree, I will have to check out the book. I’m also writing down my own emotions and experiences with the stuff I’m implementing so I might write a blog post sharing those.

  5. I became really interested in reading this book after watching an interview Tim Ferris did with Leo Babauta. What drew me in was how Tim talked about experimenting and that is something I do myself a lot with diet, sleep and other various aspects of my life. I never considered, however, what it would be like reading this book as a woman and how geared it likely is towards men. Consequently I really appreciate your review and now actually am more interested in reading it, but doing so consciously as a woman. I think it would be interesting to do a real breakdown review of the sex chapters from a woman’s point of view and about what a woman wants versus what Tim is suggesting.

    1. Celeste,

      Make no mistake, even though I had problems with the book, I’m still recommending it. If you enjoy experimenting on yourself, this book is a must-read. I’d love to hear your comments from a woman’s perspective after you try some of his stuff!

  6. Monica,
    I got really excited to post when I was reading your reaction to polyphasic. His chapter is pretty inadequate, but I think you should really not give up on the idea. I’ve been off-an-on poly for three years now, with a wife and three children and a normal job.
    First, read Puredoxyk’s Ubersleep book and look for a radio interview she did.
    Here is my normal schedule: I go to bed with my wife between 10 and 11, just like a normal person. Then, three hours later, I have a gentle alarm go off that doesn’t wake my wife. I get up and spend 4-5 hours reading, writing, working out, playing video games, etc. I usually try to get the dishes done also, to make up for the half a night of bodyheat I’m depriving my wife of. But then I take my first 20 minute nap and get coffee ready for a pretty normal morning. Second nap is around lunch time, and I just have to have a secluded place at work. I’ve done stairwells, empty offices, server rooms, water-heater closets. Sleep mask and earplugs (or earphones) help a lot. Some people use their car, but I bike to work. Then third nap I take at the end of the workday, either before I leave or right when I get home. For a while, I was taking the bus to/from work and this was a great time for naps.
    So, I definitely think you should try it. One alternative is if you are a “night-owl”, you can take the nap at bedtime, then the core sleep from 3-6 or so to wake up to the normal morning. If you take the plunge I will root for you all the way and offer any help/advice I can.

    1. Daniel,

      Thanks so much for this response. I’ve been thinking more about polyphasic sleep and I think you’re right. The Uberman is out of my reach, but Everyman might be a possibility. I’m a little weird about sleeping at work, but it might be possible if I cut my day short on both ends (do a 6 hour day instead of the traditional 8-9 hours) and work from home a couple hours in the morning. I might discuss this with my boss, but it’s good to hear that you are able to do this! TF should have included anecdotes from people like you in that section.

  7. @ Cinn Fields et al,

    To clarify, the female orgasm chapter(s) is talking about getting a woman to orgasm in 15 minutes, not an orgasm of 15 minutes in duration? I haven’t seen the book yet and I’m still trying to figure this out based on what people are saying about it. I can’t even tell from hearing Tim Ferriss being interviewed about it.

    1. The book talks about ‘getting there’ in 15 minutes. In different interviews with Tim I’ve seen him say both – “getting there” and “being there”. I don’t think Tim is clear in his own mind about this – I get the impression that he has done something like one training session in this area.
      If you look at the three sources he cites: Lafayette Morehouse, Steve & Vera Bodansky, OneTaste (the last two learned from the first) – they all talk about extended duration orgasm – minutes in orgasm – not “minutes to get there”. ~Ten days ago I saw a somewhat interesting web broadcast of 15 minutes of orgasm and on January second a few hours after I posted here I saw a stunning demonstration of a one hour orgasm. I think Tim has only scratched the surface in this area.

  8. @ Cinn Fields. Thanks for that. I, too, noticed that he seemed vague in at least the interview I saw with Tech Crunch. You’re right–the sources he cites talk about extended orgasm. This chapter title stymied me since I first heard it because I wasn’t sure which he was referring to–duration or end result.

    I do think it’s a great idea to encourage men to get women to (clitoral) orgasm. Agreed, Monica, orgasm-centered sex can be boring, but so many people dismiss the idea that women can even have orgasms, as in, “not all women can climax, so don’t feel bad.” All women CAN climax–via the clitoris, the G-Spot, the cervix and even anal sex. It’s just a matter of unlocking each woman to get her there. Tim trying to promote a powerful tool to do so is a good thing.

    “What I’ve seen from the Lafayette Morehouse folks – who, as Tim says, invented this stuff – is that “doing” is a ride you both take together, she the wave, you the surfer, two bodies, one orgasm. (the same is true for both genders).”

    Lovely description.

    I’m off to blog about The 4-Hour-Male Orgasm and to answer your questions–it’s both. Men can go for hours without ejaculating *and* they can ride an orgasmic wave that lasts for four hours. I’d challenge Tim to an “Orgasm-Off” but that might involve more field testing than I’m willing to provide.

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