The first A and B workouts will be longer than subsequent workouts, as you need to use trial-and-error to determine starting weights.

Do this by performing sets of five repetitions in each exercise with one minute of rest in between.

Cadence should be fast but controlled on the raising and two to three seconds on the lowering.

Do not perform more than five reps per set.

If you can lift more, wait a minute, increase the weight ten pounds or 10% (whichever is less), and attempt again.

Repeat this until you complete fewer than five reps.

After you fail to complete five reps, calculate 70% of your last full five- rep set.

Take a three-minute rest.

Perform a 5/5 cadence set- to- failure using this weight.

Congratulations, you just performed your first proper set- to- failure for this exercise, and this weight will be your starting point for Occam’s Protocol.

For the shoulder press, use 60% of the last successful five- rep set instead of 70%.

Let’s look at a hypothetical first workout A, performed on a Monday. Here is how things might look for a semi-trained 150-pound male doing the pull-down (weights will differ from person to person of course, and that’s why you budget at least an hour for these first workouts):

  • 90 lbs × 5 reps (f/2)19 (1-min rest)

  • 100 lbs × 5 reps (f/2) (1-min rest)

  • 110 lbs × 5 reps (f/2) (1-min rest)

  • 120 lbs × 5 reps (f/2) (1-min rest)

  • 130 lbs × 4 reps (f/2)

(he failed to complete 5 reps, so 120 lbs was the last full 5-rep set)

Then we do the math: 120 × 0.7 = 84, and we round up or down to the nearest weight we can actually use on a machine or bar, which leads us to 85 pounds. (3-min rest) 85 lbs × 8.4 to failure (5/5) The 8.4 just means your failure was reached at 8 + 4/10 of a repetition.

Take a five-minute rest, then repeat this process with the shoulder press.

Once finished with this first workout A, record the target weights you will use for your next A. Since this A was done on a Monday, your next few workouts will look like this:

(Just finished: Monday—Workout A)

Thursday—Workout B Sunday—Workout A

Wednesday—Workout B Sunday—Workout A (notice the planned increase to 3 rest days preceding this workout)


If you complete your required minimum of reps, add 10 pounds or 10% of the total weight in the subsequent workout, whichever is greater. In the example above, we crossed our seven-rep threshold with 85 pounds in the pull-down,

so we will increase the weight to 95 pounds for the next workout, as a 10% increase would be less at 93.5 pounds. To maintain this rate of progress for even two months, you will need to eat like it’s your job. Add shakes or milk if whole food is too difficult.

Ferriss, Timothy. The 4-Hour Body (pp. 348-350). Harmony/Rodale. Kindle Edition.


  1. Find a pull-down machine.

  2. Adjust the seat position.

  3. Set the pin for a weight that is comfortable but not super easy.

  4. Pull down quickly, but raise in a 3 second count.

  5. Do 5 reps.

  6. Rest 1 minute.

  7. If you feel that you can pull more, then increase the weight 10 lbs.

  8. Do 5 more reps.

  9. Repeat this process until you cannot finish a 5-rep set - the last rep. So, this would be a 4-rep set.

  10. The last successful 5-rep set's weight is your 1-rep maximum.

  11. Take your 1-rep max, and multiply that weight by .7 to get your starting weight for that exercise.

  12. Repeat the above steps for each machine:

    1. Pull-down

    2. Shoulder Press

    3. Incline Bench Press

    4. Leg Press

  13. This process completes the workout for day one. There is no need to proceed further with this exercise - the regular protocols will begin on the next day for a workout.