Tag Archives: The Four Hour Body

Bathe Like Bond, The 007 Shower Experiment

21 Dec

Someday in the future I expect to get asked questions like this one:

“Hey, 007 Experiment Guy, how can I start living like James Bond within the next 30 seconds? Also note: I can barely afford a daily package of ramen noodles – so please don’t tell me to buy a Rolex Explorer online.”

Yes, in many ways we humans seem to live in a time-starved world and the only people who have patience are medical doctors who don’t spell right.  But in this case we’ve got a solid answer for our hypothetical and broke question-asker.

Step-by-step:

  1. Move away from your computer.
  2. Go to your bathroom.
  3. If you weren’t already naked, disrobe now.
  4. Step into the shower.
  5. Blast yourself with water from the cold tap only.
  6. Wonder if you should be taking advice from people on the internet.

Elapsed time: approx. 30 seconds

We are introduced to this hardcore version of the James Bond Shower in Chapter 2 of the novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, first published in April of 1963. After quickly downing a quarter of a bottle of Taittinger Blanc de Blancs, Bond “…then went into the bathroom and had an ice-cold shower and washed his hair…” Perhaps 007 drank the champagne to fortify himself for the chilly ordeal that followed.

What’s nice is that in order to emulate 007 in his ablutions you needn’t become a member of the Polar Bear Club outright. In chapter 11 of From Russia, With Love, published 6 years before OHMSS, we learn about the contrasting shower Bond likes to take following the calisthenics he performs to alleviate boredom. Here he showers under “very hot then cold hissing water for five minutes.“ You get to start with hot water – yay!

Why does Bond torture himself this way?

Part of Bond’s shower routine is due to the era he was living in. Medical historian Peter Morrell explains how in 1950s Great Britain, your average working class family members bathed once a week in a tin tub with water heated in a kettle on the coal burning stove. Bond is decidedly middle class and could afford a water heater but I believe he used it sparingly, partly because he’s a badass and partly because he had the austerity mindset that was common in post-WWII Great Britain. Cold bathing wasn’t torture, but habit.

Did this contrast shower help elevate his mood? An oft-cited medical article about the role of norepinephrine in depression casts doubt on this idea. However, in his book The 4 Hour Body,  Tim Ferriss points out that contrasting showers have effects that stimulate the immune system, evident in the increase of circulating norepinephrine. Maybe immune system exercise translates as pleasant emotions. From personal experience with the contrast shower I can say that whatever your mood just prior to the icy dowsing, you’re in for a system reboot.

How is this going to help me get ripped?

Being cold helps you burn fat. Cold to the point of shivering increases metabolism and burns evil ‘white’ fat by stimulating ‘brown’ fat to use the stored energy to keep the body’s core temperature steady.  The less white fat you have covering your sexy abs, the more visible they become. This Daily Mail article goes into further detail about the cold water effects on body fat.   Our 007 is described in From Russia, With Love as being 183 cm (6 feet) tall, weighing 76 kg (167.5 pounds). That’s about the same height and weight as Justin Timberlake, a fellow that few folks in the world would consider overweight. At the time of this writing I cannot give any information about Mr. Timberlake’s bathing habits (it probably involves swimming around Scrooge McDuck-style in a bank vault full of cash and women).

SexyBack circa 1957.

Ok. What’s the drill?

Someone whose bathing habits we do know a bit about is swimmer Michael Phelps. In addition to the Olympic swimming thing, apparently this gentleman is also afforded the luxury of ingesting 12,000 calories per day. Which is rather a lot, by most estimations of caloric intake, yet he decidedly does not resemble a whale. NASA boffin Ray Cronise drew inspiration from this factoid and added science to it in order to discover how someone could ingest so many calories yet still be built like, well, an Olympic swimmer. The calories-in/calories-out, eating/exercise math didn’t add up. Cronise’s “eureka!” moment came when he recalled that the energy Phelps’ body was putting into maintaining his core temperature in cool pool water accounted for the difference. Cronise experimented on himself and lost a lot of fat in a short period of time in the process. His fat burning successes piqued Tim Ferriss’ curiosity and Ferriss, in turn, created the following protocol (excerpted from The 4 Hour Body):

“Take 5–10-minute cold showers before breakfast and/or before bed. Use hot water for 1–2 minutes over the entire body, then step out of water range and apply shampoo and soap to your hair and face. Turn the water to pure cold and rinse your head and face alone. Then turn around and back into the water, focusing the water on your lower neck and upper back. Maintain this position for 1–3 minutes as you acclimate and apply soap to all the necessary regions. Then turn around and rinse normally. Expect this to wake you up like a foghorn.”

I appreciate how Ferriss’ steps are reminiscent of the Hokey-Pokey. I wouldn’t recommend, however, standing on one leg in the shower while shaking the other leg “all about.”

To make your literary James Bond Shower even more authentic, you might avail yourself of some Pinaud Elixir Shampoo as mentioned in OHMSS. That link goes to a nifty article about it from jamesbondlifestyle.com. Should you have some extra bottles of the stuff lying around, you might consider making a bit of money from selling your surplus at $150 a bottle to keenly interested parties posting on this thread from the awesome shaving website badgerandblade.com. That’s worth a lot of ramen noodles! Bond’s preferred bath soap is never mentioned in Fleming’s books – perhaps he didn’t use any, but this lively thread from Absolutely James Bond (abj007.co.uk) might help you figure out the aftershave situation that will get your face smelling like that of our favorite fictitious espionage agent.

Warning to the gentlemen readers: This shower protocol will also increase your testosterone levels and enhance your libido, according to The 4 Hour Body and this badass article from The Art of Manliness. Please bathe responsibly.

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The Bodyweight Exercise Bookshelf

13 Dec

The original series of James Bond books written by Ian Fleming are serving as the inspiration for this experiment in health and fitness. As mentioned in the previous post, it was an excerpt from From Russia With Love that provided the list of exercises I’m performing. But just as “The World Is Not Enough” for Bond, one paragraph of information about press-ups and leg lifts is not enough detail to build an exercise regimen.

Using the power of the internet – which with every passing day seems more and more miraculous to me, what with all the photographs of cats, I did a bit of research on the topic ‘bodyweight exercise.’ There’s a lot of it to go through and some of it is not pretty. Luckily, I eventually found some seemingly solid books for getting this experiment under way.

Here’s a partial list of The 007 Experiment resource library for those of you playing along at home:

The Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline, published December 2003 by Dragon Door. 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon based on 66 reviews, * #37 in Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Exercise & Fitness > Weight Training

When adopting the exercise routine of a fictional Cold War-era British spy, there is a beautiful symmetry to studying training techniques from a guy born in the Soviet Union. Far beyond that bit of novelty, what really turns me on about Tsatsouline’s book is how he explains the concept of strength training as a skill. In an engaging voice and with lots of science backing up his concepts, he teaches about muscle control, how to kinesthetically recognize proper exercise form, and how to breathe effectively. This book focuses on only two bodyweight exercises, the one-arm push-up and the one-leg squat, but I’ll be applying Tsatsouline’s muscle control principles to four additional exercises found in…

Convict Conditioning: How to Bust Free of All Weakness Using the Lost Secrets of Supreme Survival Strength by Paul Wade, published February 2010 by Dragon Door. 4 and 1/3 stars on Amazon based on 17 reviews,

This book gives you bodyweight exercises from the perspective of the incarcerated. It’s nothing but ‘old school’ calisthenics honed in the gritty world of the U.S. prison system far away from fancy weight benches and flexing in the mirror. Wade admonishes the reader to start at the beginner level with all 6 of the exercises and stay at this level for at least a month in order to truly learn proper form and stay injury free. I am probably not going to do it exactly this way, but we’ll see. What I will do is take Wade’s calisthenics and apply some exercise-hacking know-how to them by way of another book called…

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss published December 2010 by Crown Archetype. 4 and 1/3 out of 5 stars on Amazon based on 1,618 reviews. Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408 in Books * #2 in Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Exercise & Fitness > Injuries & Rehabilitation * #13 in Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Diets & Weight Loss > Diets

Tim Ferriss first impressed the hell out of me with The Four Hour Work Week where he shattered my old limiting beliefs about what it means to earn a good living. In The 4 Hour Body he has done it again by considering the human body with the question “for all things physical, what are the tiniest changes that produce the biggest results?” I’m using this book and the accompanying blog to learn how to best determine my health and fitness goals and to track my progress. I’m not aiming to gain 34 lbs. of muscle in 28 days but Ferriss’ exercise and eating tips are really, really, really cool.

If you were to imagine The 007 Experiment is a class, these are the 3 foundational textbooks.

In the next post you’ll learn how to start showering like 007. And because I really get a kick out writing the words ‘The 007 Experiment,’ I’m going to do so again: The 007 Experiment.