The new rules of lifting for women – review

This book got a few mentions on the right blogs, and the authors are well-known and respected in the blogosphere.  It’s also the only serious lifting book I know that has “for women” in the title. Yeah, I’d been coveting it for a while, so when I saw it on sale, it was a done deal.

I love reading about fitness, lifting and nutrition on the internet. But I really wanted a book. A while ago I read two articles on-line, one saying “box squats are bad, never do them”, one saying “box-squats are great! Don’t do anything else!”. The internet is a whole lot of people shouting opinions at each other. It’s hard to know who to believe. I wanted one guy with some authority to sit down with me and lay out the entire system of lifting, in a simple, practical way.  If I want physiology 101, I’ll join a class.

Not to say I don’t have questions. I have tons of them:

  • What’s a superset, a dropset, alternating sets, and how/when do I do them?
  • How do I put a training program together that incorporates a shitload of variety and is still balanced?
  • How the hell should I eat? Should I carb-cycle?
  • How should I recover from the girlygirl diet I’ve been eating for since I don’t know when?
  • How many reps should I do when? How big a breaks do I take? What’s the effect of those things?
  • How should I recover? What do I do on my off-days?

I was hoping that The New Rules of Lifting would answer all of those questions. I was disappointed on that count. I enjoyed reading it, it’s funny, informative, smoothly written. A pageturner. But I kept feeling this book wasn’t for me. The first chapters were there to dispel the bulking myth, the fat is evil myth, the cardio isn’t as good for you as you think myth. Dude, if I thought all that, I wouldn’t have ordered your book, now would I? This is one of my pet peeves. Often an “article about lifting for women” is not for weightlifting women, it’s written for women who are not lifting.  But those women aren’t reading your article, they’re reading Cosmo. The actual readers, women who have already started lifting weights, are left to find their information at ‘guy sources’ (and FA, of course).

Okay, I’m over it. I understand about expanding your reader base and everything. No hard feelings. If you’re thinking about taking this book off of your birthday list, read on. It gets better soon.

Then came a chapter that explained why you’re probably not eating enough, why you need to ditch your low-cal diet and eat more. That one put a lot of things together for me, and is the reason I’ve been eating more (and, unfortunately, piling on the pounds, but hey!). Ok, the book skillfully made its points, and did me a favor here (and I’ll be greatful for it later when the pounds stop layering on).

Next, bad fats, good fats. Favor carbs at certain times. A meal plan. Really? A meal plan? This is the first fitness book I’ve ever read, but I thought meal plans were… well, for Cosmo.

Then: The lifting program. I would have preferred tips on making my own program, but alright. I leafed through it. Some good stuff there. Compound exercises, alternating pulling and pushing. What the heck, I thought, obviously a lot of work has gone into making these programs, and they look solid. I’ll give it a go. Two workouts later: I have DOMS from head to toe. I’ve tried four totally new exercises, and improved a few I was doing already. I’ve started doing deadlifts. This is good, good stuff.

It’s hard to express how happy I am with the workouts. I’m not a shy person, but (like many women) I don’t want to look incompetent in the gym. I mean, if I’m going to invade the weight room where a bunch of men are staring at me like I don’t belong there – well, then I want to damm well show them that this is exactly where I belong, thank you very much. I don’t want to bumble around with unfamiliar exercises, and I don’t want to do anything that looks weird or attention-grabby. So for me to set up the bar for deadlifts and start experimenting, to drag out a box in the middle of the weight room to do step ups, or to keep a machine occupied because i’m alternating two exercises… Well, let’s say that I feel more comfortable and confident in the gym and it’s very noticable.

Why? I’m not sure. I guess i certainly put a lot more faith in a consistent body of work than in an exercise i printed off of the internet on my lunch break. The plan feels solid, it’s challenging, and I feel I can trust it.

So what to say? I’m very, very happy I got this book. I didn’t answer all my questions – I suspect there are no easy answers to most of my questions. I got my basics reaffirmed, a few things that had been going around in my head locked into place, and I gained a lot of confidence and a variety of new compound exercises. If you want to get one of your friends off of the elliptical, this book might do it, but then again, it might not. It certainly makes a valliant attempt in plain language. If you’ve been lifting for a while and you’re already doing squats, deadlifts, presses, etc. with full confidence, then you may find you’re too advanced for this book. If you’ve been lifting less than a year, haven’t mastered all the moves yet, or need a bit of a support system… Then go ahead and order your new best friend.

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3 Responses to The new rules of lifting for women – review

  1. Matthias says:

    What’s a superset, a dropset, alternating sets, and how/when do I do them?
    A superset is two exercises in a row and taking the break after compleating both.
    There are various options.
    – Combining two very similar movements like two pressing movements. Some people use this to emphasize a muscle like in supersetting benchpress with flys. I think that is mostly useless.
    – Combining two oposing movements, like benchpress and cabel rows. Some people claim that this has some magical effects on the nervous system and temporarily makes them stronger. I think that’s a myth.

    A dropset works like this: you do your set till failure drop some weight off and immediately continue the exercise with the lower weight. You can do this multiple times. In some exercises you need a training partner to be able to remove weight fast enough. You can use this if you need endurance in a specific exercise or muscle. Byole uses it with his Football guys to prepare them for the 225 benchpress test where they have to press 225lbs as often as possible.

    Alternating sets are simple: instead of first doing three sets of benchpressing and then three sets of rowing you do one set of benchpressing, one set of rowing, one set of benchpressing, … . I think Alwyn Cosgrove uses this a lot and I would expect that this is used in NROL4W very often.

    How do I put a training program together that incorporates a shitload of variety and is still balanced?

    This is a bit too much for a small anwer to a blog post.

    How the hell should I eat?
    Try using your mouth. Snorting through your nose isn’t a good idea.

    Should I carb-cycle?
    Depends. But usually eating more carbs on training days and less on non-training days might be a good idea.

    How should I recover from the girlygirl diet I’ve been eating for since I don’t know when?
    Slowly migrate to your new more healthy diet.

    How many reps should I do when? How big a breaks do I take? What’s the effect of those things?
    That depends on your goals. Rule of thumb: the lower the reps the longer the rest.
    Lower reps tend to have more effect on your nervoussystem i.e. make you stronger. With higher reps it’s easier to get the higher volume in that you need to make your muscles grow. Too high reps normaly mean very light wheigts and tend to do nothing beside building local muscle endurance.

    How should I recover? What do I do on my off-days?
    On your off days you can read a book, meat friends, … don’t know … go to the zoo, whatever you want.

  2. LOLfitness says:

    “a small answer to a blog post” indeed ;) Thanks so much for your input!

  3. Pingback: Sick « Lolfitness’s Blog

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