My Review of the “Geek to Freak” Program by Tim Ferriss
Review of Tim Ferriss’ Geek to Freak Program – and how I didn’t add 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days
A few years back after being away from the gym for quite awhile, my brother and I decided it was time to start trying to get into better shape. We had completed some random fitness challenges simply training at home, where I have the basics like some weights and a set of olympic rings, as well as a weighted vest. Always looking for something different to try, we decided to give the Tim Ferriss “Geek to Freak” workout a go.
For those of you unfamiliar with this program, Tim claims to have put on 34 pounds of muscle in only 4 short weeks, with a total of 4 hours spent in the gym. He touts 6 basic principles:
- Your workout will consist of 4-7 multi-joint exercises for a full body workout each time
- Follow Arthur Jone’s one-set-to-failure approach, a study he completed known as the Colorado experiment. Also, you’ll only be working out twice a week, tops.
- Every rep is done using a pace of 5 seconds up 5 seconds down
- Tons of protein consumption
- As the weeks roll on, exercise less frequently
- Record EVERYTHING from your workout in detail
This experiment fits in with Tim’s theme perfectly as it suggests less is more, which definitely appeals to most people, including myself. Now going into this experiment, I knew there was no way I was going to gain 34 pounds of muscle. There are a few factors that contributed to Tim’s phenomenal success with this workout protocol that you can research on your own, but needless to say I knew 34 pounds was way out of reach for myself or my brother. To be honest, we were looking to test something most people wouldn’t try and hoped to get some reasonable results while having fun with it. Plus, it is always a bonus to compete for the “strongest brother” title side by side for a month.
In Tim’s suggested approach, some of the exercises he lists are the leg press, trap bar deadlift, overhead press and dips, to name a few. We decided to put our own spin on this, picking a range of exercises that would hit the entire body but using machines only. We figured machines would be an easier way to complete the 5/5 cadence and I was much more comfortable going to failure with the safety of the machine vs a big compound movement, as to avoid serious injury.
We definitely got some looks and funny reactions when performing only super slow reps, and only one set, on each exercise we performed. At one point, one of the trainers actually told me to get off the machine because my set was taking too long. I was still trying to find the proper weight I should use on a leg press machine, so yes, I agree, it may have been a bit annoying.
One thing I will say after completing this experiment is that it is tougher than you think to go to absolute failure. To comply with the Geek to Freak protocols, you need to ACTUALLY hit muscle failure. This doesn’t mean simply hitting a plateau halfway through a lift so you put the weight down and move on. It means literally trying to struggle through that rep until you NEED to drop it. It is quite hard to push yourself to that level of exhaustion, even for one single set on an exercise. I can honestly say that although we did push ourselves hard on these single sets, I don;t truly believe I was ever able to reach 100% exhaustion as prescribed in the program.
We did see great results, increasing rapidly in almost every exercise we chose. Some of the exercises we performed were the seated shoulder press, seated chest press, seated close-grip row, and a seated leg press.
To sum up our results, although we did not follow Tim’s very simple tip of recording everything in excrutiating detail, we did see solid gains. We did not see 34 pounds of muscle growth, nor should you expect to if you decide to follow this program. However, since we had just started back to the gym, we were bound to see fast results regardless of what we did. Perhaps we should give it another honest go someday, as without eating the enormous quantity of protein and performing sets to 100% failure, we didn;t complete the program as directed.
I would suggest for anyone looking to mix things up or just get back in the gym to try this out. Practicing a slow cadence puts your muscles under constant tension and Time under Tension is an important part of hypertrophy. By packing in two full body workouts a week, it is also incredibly efficient if you don’t have time to spend 5 hours a week working out. It isn’t the most balanced plan in my opinion, leaving out several important things such as cardio and mobility work, but I don’t think it is meant to be the cure-all program either. Regardless, give it a shot, have some fun with it, and share your experience.