A friend of mine is reading The 4-Hour Body, a recent New York Times Bestseller. The book is based on the Pareto principle which states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The principle appears to be pretty popular in economics, where it is observed that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients, or that 20% of the world population holds 80% of the wealth.
According to Wikipedia, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto developed his principle (also known as the 80-20 rule) by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. That’s all well and good, but a distribution of pea plant output is a non sequitur to the amount of effort put in. I bet the plants with the highest output had access to more and better nutrients, sunlight, and may have been successfully pollinated when others were not. In other words, this example does not apply to the amount of effort needed to see results in the weight room.
The 80-20 principle is an observation, and has nothing to do with cause and effect. Just because 20% of the world holds 80% of the wealth doesn’t mean they worked at 20% effort to get there.
However, applying this principle to exercise, Tim Ferriss says that you can get huge fitness results by only doing the bare minimum of work. Four hours per month, he says, is all it took to go “From Geek to Freak” and gain 34 pounds of muscle. Well, not quite… In an interview on Bodubuilding.com, Tim credited his weight gain to minimal workouts for 8 hours per month. So which is it?
Other points that raise a red flag? How about the “no-fruit” diet, an exercise plan that appeals to laziness, and advocacy for an array of unregulated supplements.
And the biggest red flag? These almost humorously deceptive before-and-after pictures. They were so transparent, I just had to post an analysis. It looks like Tim used every trick in the book to make these photos as convincing as possible.
My analysis? Tim really did gain 34 pounds in 28 days, but was severely dehydrated prior to the test. It should have been relatively easy to gain the weight back, and still leave enough time to go tanning, get a haircut, shave his chest, and re-position the lights for his follow-up photoshoot.
I hope that this analysis is inspiring in a different way. As you tackle your New Year’s Resolutions, just remember that there are no shortcuts, and it’s up to you to make real changes in order to achieve your goals.
On a positive note, Tim Ferriss appears to be an advocate for skepticism. In the first chapter of his book, Tim writes “Don