Geek to Freak protocol

Reread Tim Ferriss' 4-Hour Body, and was reminded how much of an iconoclast he was. His ideas and experiments were even bolder than I remember. In any case, I have 2 goals this year, 1 to add lean muscle mass to the tune of 10kg by the end of the year, and the other is to complete an Ironman. I was emotionally prepared to invest massive energy and focus into this, but 4-Hour Body reminded me to be scientific and precise in what I want. What I want is not recreation, or a feeling of being a hardcore athlete, it is the physical results, and there is a minimum effective dose of exercise and conditioning beyond which time is not well-spent. I'm pleased to see that the time investment of the suggested protocol is far lower than I expected, leaving sufficient time to still invest in my career and relationships.

Protocol for Hypertrophy

Workout A

  1. Yates row with EZ bar or barbell x 7 (5/5 count)
  2. Reverse drag curl x 7 (5/5 count)
  3. Shoulder-width barbell overhead press x 7 (5/5 count)
  4. Myotatic crunch x 10 (4/2/2 count)
  5. Cat vomit exercise x 10 (10 seconds breath hold)

Workout B

  1. Slight incline bench press with shoulder-width grip x 7 (5/5 count)
  2. Squat x 10 (5/5 count)
  3. Kettlebell swings x 50-75
  4. Stationary bike x 3 mins


  1. Beside abdominal exercises and kettlebell swings, if I complete the min target # of reps, add 5kg or 10%, whichever is greater, for that exercise at the next workout. If 5kg feels easy after 3 reps, stop, wait 5 mins, increase the weight by 2.5kg to 5kg, then do single set to failure.
  2. Do not drop set when I hit failure. Attempt to move the weight mm by mm, then hold it at the limit for 5 seconds. I shouldn't be able to do the another set a min later.
  3. 3 mins of rest in between sets exactly. No pausing at the top or bottom of movements.
  4. Only change weights and reps between workouts. Everything else - rest interval, exercise form, rep speed - stays constant.
  5. If I miss my target by >1 rep on the 1st exercise in the workout, go home, take the day and next off and come back 2 days later. Do not do a drop-set.
  6. If I miss a day due to logistics, just take that day off instead of performing different exercises.


  1. Start with 2 days in between workout A and B.
  2. After 2 of both workouts, increase rest day to 3 days.
  3. Add 1 day every time I have a workout where >1 exercise stalled (i.e. cannot complete the set)

Determine Starting Weight

  1. Perform sets of 5 reps in each exercise with 1 min rest in between.
  2. Cadence is fast but controlled on raise, 3 secs on lowering.
  3. No more than 5 reps. If I can lift more, wait 1 min, increase the weight by 5kg or 10%, whichever is lower, and attempt again. Repeat until I can't hit 5 reps.
  4. After failure, calculate 70% of last full 5-rep set. Take 3 mins rest, and perform 5/5 cadence set-to-failure at this weight. This is the starting weight. For shoulder press, use 60% instead.


7am - Training

8am - Breakfast (Raw almonds, cashew, brazilian nuts, walnuts, avocado, flax seeds, honey, pecans, pistachios)

Morning - 2 scoops of protein powder shake, with almond butter and milk

12pm - Lunch (Daal, all kinds of beans/nuts, spinach, brocooli, cauliflower, kimchee, asparagus, peas, almonds, cashew nuts, avocado, tomato, pumpkin, hummus, potato) - Mexican/Thai food, or economical rice with 5 veg

Afternoon -  2 scoops of protein powder shake, with almond butter and milk

8pm - Dinner (as with lunch)


14 Jan - Workout A

17 Jan - Workout B

20 Jan - Workout A

23 Jan - Workout B

27 Jan - Workout A

31 Jan - Workout B

Subscribe to Seah Ying Cong (YC)

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.