Occam’s Protocol Step by Step plus a New and Improved Cheat Sheet

by Stephen

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Occam’s Protocol:


WORKOUT A:  (Machine Option)

Workout (A) consists of two primary lifts + (optional) abdominal exercises from “six minute Abs”

I. Close-Grip Supinated (palms facing you) Pull Down x 7 reps (5/5 count)


II. Machine Shoulder Press x 7 reps (5/5 count)

Machine Shoulder Press

III.  *Two Abdominal Exercises from “Six-Minute Abs” (optional)*

Movement #1: Thy Myotatic Crunch

  1. Start with arms stretched overhead as high as possible. Keep arms behind or next to your ears for the entire exercise.
  2. Lower under control 4 seconds until your fingers touch the floor.
  3. Pause at the bottom for 2 seconds.
  4. Rise under control and pause in the upper fully contracted position for 2 seconds.
  5. Repeat for a total of 10 reps.

The Myotatic Crunch

Movement # 2: The Cat Vomit Exercise

  1. Get on all fours and keep your gaze focused either directly under your head or slightly in front of you. Don’t arch your back or strain your neck.
  2. Forcefully exhale from your mouth until air is fully expelled.
  3. Hold your breath and pull your belly button upward toward your spine as hard as you can for a target of 8-12 seconds.
  4. Inhale fully through the nose after the 8-12 second hold.

Cat Vomit Exercise from the 4 Hour Body


WORKOUT B: (Machine Option)

Workout (B) consists of two primary lifts + (optional) Kettlebell or T-Bar swings from “Building the Perfect Posterior

I. Slight incline/decline bench press x 7 (5/5 count)

  • To prevent unnecessary shoulder strain, set the pins in the machine so that your knuckles are one first width above your chest at the bottom of the movement.
  • Take a one-second pause at the bottom of the movement without touching the weight stack.


Slight Incline and decline from the 4 Hour Body


II. Leg press x 10 (5/5 count)

Leg Press From the 4 Hour Body Occam's Protocol


III. *Kettlebell or T-bar swings (optional)*

  • High-rep kettlebell (53 pounds) swings to at least 75 reps.
  • Stand with your feet 6-12 inches outside of shoulder width on either side, each foot pointed outward about 30 degrees. If toes pointed straight ahead were 12:00 on a clock face, your foot would point at 10:00 or 11:00, and your right would point at 1:00 or 2:00.
  • Keep your shoulder pulled back and down to avoid rounding your back.
  • The lowering movement is a sitting-back-on-a-chair movement, not a squatting-down movement.
  • Do not let your shoulders go in front of your knees at any point.
  • Imagine pinching a penny between your butt cheeks when you pop your hips forward. This should be a forceful pop, and it should be impossible to contract your ass more.


Kettlebell Swing From the 4 Hour Body Occam's Protocol


Occam’s Frequency:

  • Begin Occam’s Protocol with two days between A and B workouts.
  • After two of both the A and B workouts, increase the rest days between workouts to three days.
  • As soon as you have a workout where more than one exercise has stalled (indicated in our hypothetical calendars with the B*), but not before, increase to four days between workouts.
  • Continue adding rest as needed to resolve plateaus until you hit your target weight.

Occam's Frequency Callendar


Occam’s Feeding:

  • The Meal Composition is nearly identical to the Slow Carb Diet.
  • You will add a starch such as brown rice or quinoa to the non-shake meals:
    • 7:00 A.M. – Wake up, immediately breakfast + 1/2-morning shake
    • 8:30 A.M. – Training, if scheduled (I sip low fat protein just before and throughout. Tim recommended (Isopure Brand)
    • 30 minutes post training (high protein snack)
    • 2:00 P.M. lunch
    • 6:00 P.M. Dinner
    • 15 minutes before bed-second half of morning shake

If you skip breakfast, use this blended mix:

Morning Shake

caloric and protein profile with 2% milk: 970 cal, 75 g protein

  • 24 oz (3 cups) 2% whole milk
  • 30 g whey protein isolate (chocolate tends to work best)
  • 1 banana
  • 3 heaping tablespoon almond butter with no added sugar
  • 5 ice cubes
Isopure 4-Hour Body


Occam’s Prescriptions:

  1. Cissus Quadrangularis: 2,400 mg three times per day
  2. Alpha-Lipoic Acid: 300 mg, 30 minutes before each whole food meal
    • Consume 80 grams during the first five days of Occam’s Protocol:
      • 10 grams every 2 hours on the dot until 80-gram quota is reached
    • After the Initial five-day loading period:
      • 10-30 grams post workout will speed repair and help prevent soreness
    • For 28 days:
      • Consume 3.5 grams upon waking
      • Consume 3.5 grams before bed
    • if you use powder, mix in 5-6 grams total as losing one to two grams in solution is hard to avoid.
Cissus Quadrangularis 4-Hour Body Alpha Lipoic Acid 300mg 4-Hour Body Occam's Protocol L-Glutamine The 4-Hour Body Creatine Monohydrate 4-Hour Body


To Determine Starting Weights:

  • Perform sets of 5 repetitions of 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 5 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 5 reps.
  • After you fail to complete 5 reps, calculate 70% of your last full five rep set.
  • Take a 3 minute rest and 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.

EXAMPLE: 150 lbs male doing the Close-Grip Supinated (palms facing you) Pull Down

  • 90 lbs x 5 reps (fast on lift and 2 seconds on release)
    • (1 minute rest)
  • 100 lbs x 5 reps (fast on the lift and 2 seconds on the release)
    • (1 minute rest)
  • 110 lbs x 5 reps (fast on the lift and 2 seconds on the release)
    • (1 minute rest)
  • 120 lbs x 5 reps (fast on the lift and 2 seconds on the release)
    • (1 minute rest)
  • 130 lbs x 4 reps (fast on the lift and 2 seconds on the release) (he failed to complete 5 reps, so 120 lbs was the last full 5 rep set)

Then the math:

  • take 70% of the weight of the last full 5 rep set
  • 120 x 0.7 =84
  • we round up or down to the nearest weight we can actually use on a machine or bar, which leads to 85 lbs

(3 minutes of rest)

  • 85 lbs x 8 reps to failure (5 seconds on the lift and 5 seconds down)

Take a 5 minute rest, then repeat this process with the Machine Shoulder Press. Once finished with this workout A, record the target weights you will use for your next A.


To Add Weight:

  • Complete your required minimum of reps (7 in Occam’s Protocol).
  • 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.


If you miss a day or you miss your target repetitions:

  • If you miss a day take an additional one to three days off, then return to your normal routing.
  • If you miss your target number of repetitions by more than one repetition on the first exercise of a given workout, go home, take the next day off, then repeat the workout.

Let’s say you’re scheduled for workout A on a Monday. The first exercise is close-grip pull-downs, and your target number of repetitions is a minimum of seven. If you complete six good repetitions or more, complete the entire workout. If you don’t complete six repetitions for pull-downs, do NOT proceed to the shoulder press. Instead, pick up your gym bag and go home. Rest Tuesday, ensure proper nutrient intake by eating a ton, and come in Wednesday prepared to crush both exercises and proceed as planned. If you fail before the requisite number of reps, do not—as many people do—decrease the weight and do another set (called a “drop-down” or “break-down” set). Do nothing but leave. If you haven’t recovered, you haven’t recovered. Continuing can easily stagnate you for two weeks or more. Cutting a workout short takes tremendous self-control and runs counter to gym culture. Be smart and opt for a 48-hour reboot instead of a two-week or three- week reboot. Last but not least, if you abandon a workout because you miss a set, add another recovery day between all workouts moving forward. In effect, you’re just accelerating the planned decrease in frequency. There is very little downside to doing this. Twenty-four hours of additional time cannot hurt you, but underrecovering will screw up the entire process.

Occam’s Protocol Cheat Sheet 2.0 New and Improved!


Occam’s Protocol Cheat Sheet Adobe PDF

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

rich August 24, 2011 at 3:01 am

Guys loads of great stuff, stilla bit confused about what to do having completed my initial workout A & B.
Upon my next visit do I have to workout my 5 max again then lower to 70% or pick up where I left off on the initial workout.
I am just worried if I just pick up where I left off I wouldnt be in the gym twenty mins (I know…..that may very well be the point) and thats includes stretching and shower.
Sorry guys forgive my ignorance if I`ve missed something. A little help please…


Stephen August 24, 2011 at 8:25 am

Rich you are right this is very confusing!

The answer is: You want to pick up at that 70% where you left off on the initial workout and then work up from there by 10% each subsequent workout.

Of course as part of the protocol you are also increasing the spacing between workouts. This occurs once you do either an A or B workout routine where you have more than one exercise in the workout where you have stalled (in other words where you are not able to increase your load by 10% and reach your minimum reps). At this point you would increase the spacing between workouts by 4 days. The goal is to overcome this “stalling” by increasing the rest time. Counter-intuitive, but it does work.

Make sure you bring a clipboard and just mark the date and what workout you are doing A or B. Make sure you write down the amount of weight used and number of reps. Then just increase that by 10% next time.

If you have already don the first day, you are through the hardest most time consuming part. From this point on it is really a breeze. Just make sure you push until you can push no harder…. You have to get your muscles to complete exhaustion for this to work.

And you are right it is a quick workout. About 2 mins to do the lifting, and 3 minutes of rest between workouts. You will feel guilty for leaving so fast. But don’t give in to the temptation to believe this is not enough time…. It is!

I hope this helped some.



rich August 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Cheers steve really helpful. Just one other thing how long should you continue with the program. I think I read that Tim suggested twelve weeks. If so how long off after until you start again or another program. Following on, if not occams, what program?


Rui July 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Hey, this website is great and so the book. I’ve one doubt if i can’t find in my gym the machine for the Slight incline/decline bench press, which one can i use in replace of that one?


Stephen July 26, 2012 at 8:07 am

I would probably do the Workout B Free Weight Option that Tim recommends in the book: Slight incline bench press with shoulder-width grip


or use dumbbells like in this video:



Bluebriz October 30, 2012 at 12:25 am

I have a question about the breathing. In general reps I would breathe out during the difficult part of the exercise, but it’s not so clear here. For example the pull-down, it’s difficult to breathe out for five seconds on the pull and breathe in for five on the raise part.

Any advice anyone?


Stephen November 2, 2012 at 9:07 am

With regards to the lat pull down, I breath in on the pull down and out as I let the weights go (on the negative rep)… which is opposite of what you would do on the leg press for example where you breath out as you push the weight up, same with the shoulder press, and the slight incline bench press. You have to do it this way with the lat pull down because as you pull in you contract your thorax and as you let go you expand it… making it easier to get air. It just feels natural. So that is how I do it.



Ric Cervantes May 4, 2013 at 12:05 am

I love the web, always find options. I will have to do dumb bell presses but with this count I have the weight for it and I think I will get good results since more muscles are used. I also like Tim’s advice for other things not being work outs but fun/ recreation, like swimming biking etc. Plan to get back into martial arts and this will fit in nicely, work go to class burnt out from Insanity like I did before. http://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/bodyweight-wall-squat.html http://elsbethvaino.com/2011/05/use-the-trx-to-work-your-way-up-to-pullups/


abanana May 8, 2014 at 1:19 am

2 questions – I get Tim says in the book that girls shouldn’t worry about bulking up , but by taking these supplements and including “healthy carbs” wont we just get a bit..i dont know…chubbier? Also can you gain muscle doing this protocol without all the supplements and just a slow carb diet? I want to gain muscle mass and I already eat slow carb but to be honest not keen on adding all these supplements just to make it work.


Stephen May 8, 2014 at 10:15 am

Absolutely Abanana,

There is no need to add all these supplements. The slow carb diet is a perfect compliment to Occam’s protocol and vice versa. The supplements may add a short term benefit but they are not a long term solution and you can probably have just as good of results without them (in my humble opinion).

And as far as women “bulking up” there is no merrit to this. Occam’s is a great way to tone up as well. Of course, if you would like “bulk up” using Occcam’s you could by incrementally building upon your base and adding weights. But if you find a mid point where you are able to maintain good tone and core strength, I personally think this is the “sweet spot”. This is where I have kept it for the last two years, injury free and I love it!

Hope this helps,



abanana May 8, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Hi Stephen

Thank you so much for replying so quickly!. It’s great to have some clarification. I know on Tim’s blog he mentions to reduce rest period from 3 minutes to 30 seconds between sets to avoid bulking up for females (I don’t recall him explaining why) and that’s when I thought, would I be able to even gain muscle mass without doing everything else such as the supplements etc.

Your answer has spurred another question – You said you have found your sweet spot to maintain – does that mean that when you find that “sweet spot” all you have to do is continue the same sets and reps to maintain without losing muscle gained? In the past I’ve struggled to gain muscle so I’m hoping after a couple months on this I’ll be able to see better results than in the past – especially being 122 pounds 5ft3″ I don’t want to lose weight so that’s ones less to focus on.

I have last question and it isn’t even relevant to the above. The kettlebell swing – are you supposed to feel muscle soreness in your glutes? I seem to only feel it in my legs which makes me thing I’m doing it wrong and doing more of a squat motion than closing a car door with my glutes motion. Finally great to have someone to answer these questions when no one I know has even read the book.


DamianRocks February 23, 2015 at 12:54 am

Hi everybody,

First of all, sorry for my English. I will do my best (I’m actually from switzerland)

My question :
In the workout A, I’ve reach the 7 reps for the exercice 2 (shoulders in free weight). I workout with 15kg (33 pounds) and I’ve to add 5kg for the next session. Total new weigth : 20kg (44 pounds).

I’m pretty sure I will not doing 6 reps with this increase. If I fail to lift minimum 6 reps the next workout, what have I to do ? add one day between ? I think 5 kg on a total of 15kg is a big add at one time and I will repeat 10 time the session without reach the minimum of 6 reps.

I will try, but I think I have to add less weight.

Thank you in advance for your help :)

Have a nice day


Francisco Israel August 3, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Hi There!. Not sure if my question / comment goes exactlly on this section…but anyway.
After have read 4HB, Im not clear what to do if I do sports, when doing the slow carb diet.
Specifficaly in these 2 cases:
1) I will do sports / soccer at 9pm. Should I still not consume any carbs? Wouldn’t this be harmfull for my muscles, and mayble lose them or injure them (due to absence of carbs, when doing exercise the body gets energy from muscle therefore “wasting” them in form of energy)

2) If I will do sports / jogging / yoga / spinning very early in the morning…should I take any carbs at all? Should I take them (and / or the whole breakfast) before or after the exercice? some literature suggests I take breakfast 1-2 hour before the meal, but this is nearly un-doable…you would have to get up at 5am? Thanks a lot! big fan.


Stephen August 11, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Hey Francisco,

This documentary is a bit long (an hour in length) but it compares two identical twins. One is eating an all carbohydrate diet and the other is eating an all protein diet. There is an interesting section in the video when they have to climb a very challenging hill on bicycles, one that is part of the Tour-De-France course. You will see what happens to the protein loading twin if you watch the video. Take a look I think you will find it interesting: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1amh2t_bbc-horizon-sugar-v-fat-h264-1280×720-aac-rmac_lifestyle

The problem with the twins in the video is the limited time they had to acclimate and adapt to their dietary changes… Your body becomes more efficient and adapts to using non-carb sources for energy over time. You won’t harm yourself, but you may find that without a “quick” energy source you may be a bit tired, fatigue quickly or bonk at first, but this will change over time.

Some people using slow carb will adjust the diet by adding a bit of carbohydrate (about 25 grams) before your workout or at specific times. I find everybody is different. There is no hard and fast rule.

It is perfectly ok to workout in a fasted state and eat within 20-30 minutes post workout. I do this all the time. If your workout is longer than 1 hour you may want to add a bit of fuel mid-workout. But test it out and adjust as necessary.

– Stephen


Cari Poule August 29, 2015 at 8:16 pm

Hi everyone,

Upon reading about Occams feeding one thing has really confused me,
It says in both diets to wake up and have a meal with “1/2 SHAKE” and then their other half of this shake 15 minutes before bed.
Where exactly is this shake recipe? Is it the one described shortly after with Banana, protein, almond butter, etc.. because this is listed as a ‘Meal Replacement shake’ and to have if you skip breakfast. I read on and couldn’t find any other shake recipes so I’m guessing this is the one but is fruit such as banana okay to have now when it is against the slow carb diet?
Is this the shake it is talking about in the ‘1/2 shake’?


Stephen September 18, 2015 at 11:21 am

Hi Cari,

Yes, this is the shake: http://www.4hourlife.com/the-tim-ferriss-four-hour-body-protein-shake/

It is OK to add carbs as part of Occam’s protocol but not as part of the slow carb diet. You would not use this shake as part of the slow carb diet. This is meant to be a meal replacement shake and not to augment a whole food breakfast.

If you want a good meal replacement shake on the slow carb diet I like Vega One. You can find it in most health food stores and is worth the extra cash compared to many other options that are filled with a host of unnecessary hidden sugars and other sketchy ingredients.

– Stephen


Cari Poule August 29, 2015 at 10:51 pm

Hey everyone,

Upon reading, this one sentence always confuses me:

“Last but not least, if you abandon a workout because you miss a set, add another recovery day between all workouts moving forward.”

So does this mean i am adding in an extra day permanently on all my recovery days for the whole bulking cycle? So if i am having 3 rest days in between workouts i have to change it to 4 permanently? And what if i stall again? Is it now 5 days for ALL rest days?

Thanks in advance!



Stephen September 1, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Hi Cari,

This is a great question that I never really noticed. I would simply add an extra recovery day in that 1-2 week cycle. Thanks for pointing this out, I am sure you are not the first (or last person) this has stumped.

– Stephen


Joe September 2, 2015 at 4:55 pm

I was wondering if Brown rice protein shakes are ok. I read that rice is not part of the slow carb diet. However, i am allergic to whey so I use Garden of life Raw fit shakes. And the shakes are blend of vegan proteins which includes rice.

Also, I saw you mention that brown rice is ok if doing occams protocol as well. Will that stop or slow fat loss?
And also do I only have it after a workout?
Thank you. Its so helpful to have someone to ask questions. Theres just so much info to absorb

Ps… please expect more questions. Starting a 30 day challenge on tuesday. Thanks again


Stephen September 3, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Hi Joe,

I see no problem with brown rice whatsoever, this is a very healthy carbohydrate and while on Occam’s Protocol you would do yourself some good to be ingesting a certain amount of carbohydrate… the research backs this up as well. I tend to workout in a fasted state because I just feel better this way. Aim to consume your post-workout meal within 30 minutes after your workout. You should be good to go!

Also, if you are not already, I would highly recommend The Nutrition Diva podcast. She has had some wonderful episodes recently that are researched based and will help you navigate the world of 4-Hour Body and finding moderation.


Feel free to send me any questions you may have.




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