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The body hacker: Why Tim Ferriss is a self-made lab rat | Wired

By GARY WOLF | Monday 20 December 2010

my only help came from other wrestlers who themselves had tested the methods of previous wrestlers. When you have good data, such as kilogram-per-hour loss rates, you can learn quickly through trial and error. I also read a lot about elec- trolyte balance. I wanted to find out what was just below the threshold of life-threatening. // By the time I was 21, I had refined the approach, and I was using diuretics. I cut about 10kg to compete in the kickboxing nationals. // Then, after weighing in, I hyper-hydrated. I weighed in at 75kg, and the next day I stepped on to the platform at 88kg. It was pretty funny. My first opponent stepped on to the mat and started looking around because he thought he was on the wrong platform. He was like, "This can't be right!" I won a gold medal.

Diuretics aren't banned?

Yes, in many cases they are. Not only because of their weight-loss effects, but also because they can mask other drugs. In any case, at the higher levels of athletics, this sort of thing is the rule rather than the exception. In any sport where power, speed or endurance is a determining factor, everyone is using drugs. // You got your start with this stuff in the 90s, just as the shadow world of performance-enhancing drugs seemed to be hitting the mainstream. It looks like you were able to stand on the border of those two worlds. // There are a lot of things that can be learned from the darker corners of athletics. You have doctors who view bodybuilders as cavalier amateurs of science. And then you have the bodybuilders who view the doctors as too conservative. So I've tried to become the middleman for putting some of those pieces together.

Aside from the diuretics, what else were you into?

The cocktail I began experimenting with was ephedrine, plus caffeine, plus aspirin, which basically means you're hitting the accelerator. These are all over-the-counter drugs. // Ephedrine was for a long time. But people were using it to manufacture methamphetamine, so they started blending it with other drugs to make that harder to do. But I don't recommend it anyway. // There's an entire generation of male strength and endurance athletes, even recreational lifters, who have never gotten off the ephedrine-caffeine-aspirin stack. The process of getting off stimulants is really horrible. I'm more cautious now. Hey, um [pulling a bottle of pills and a plastic pouch of fine powder from a paper bag], I brought you some goodies. I don't know what the law is governing these, so let's say I'm giving them to you for visual reference only. OK, right. I don't want to be accused of "intent to distribute". [Examining the bottle] Good old piracetam. I wrote about these so-called smart drugs in the 90s. I'm still sceptical. // The pouch is micronised resveratrol, which you can't buy over the counter.

Where did you get it?

I got it directly from the manufacturer. Resveratrol is fascinating stuff (see wired 02.10). One of the best sources of information about it is the Immortality Institute. They have a forum where some people are in the 500 Club, as they call it. // They've been taking 500 milligrams for years. It's a really great source of data.

Do you take it?

Not any more. There are anecdotal reports of joint pain, and I ended up having incredible pain in my elbows and lesser pain in my knees.

What do you think is the most dangerous experiment that you tried for The 4-Hour Body?

I had a chemical cocktail injected to reverse injuries. // It included BMP, bone morphogenetic protein, and there's a risk of it fusing your vertebrae. In retrospect, I probably wouldn't have included that.

You discuss polyphasic sleep: taking 20-minute naps every four hours. Do you really think this works?

I have never been able to do with less than six hours' sleep a day for more than four weeks. But I know several tech CEOs who have used similar schedules for approximately a year, before social needs intervened.

Finally, there's a long section on sexual performance in the new book, where you give hands-on instruction on what you call "facilitating" female orgasm. Why did you want to include this?

This book is a product of asking people what they want to learn about. When you try to find out about female orgasm, separating fact from fiction is really hard. So I figured, why not just do the tests? Sex is so key to quality of life. We live in such a puritanical society. They won't show nipples in advertisements, so they're definitely not going to talk about the anatomy of the clitoris.