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Book Review: The New Rules of Lifting for Women


On occasion I like to read non-fiction.  I have a great interest in nutrition and fitness, and for a long time had the desire to add strength training to my current running and yoga routine.  The problem was that while in theory I loved the idea of working out at home, I couldn’t get myself motivated to do it regularly.  I had several friends tell me that if I really wanted to change my physique (I’m healthy, but I want to be toned!), I needed to start lifting.  I completely agreed, but was always at a loss of where to start, and thus kept putting it off.

Somewhere down the line I heard of this book, The New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROLW for short) by Lou Schuler.  There’s several books in the NROL line, but this one seemed to fit me best.  I actually read this book around the end of 2013, but didn’t want to review it until I’d put it to use for a while.

NROLW is broken up into 3 parts.  Part 1, “Behind The Cover Lines,” contains the “new rules.”  It goes over some common misconceptions about lifting, tries to convince the reader that women really SHOULD be lifting weights, and explains that we don’t develop muscle in the same ways as men do.  It also covers the cardio vs lifting debate.  The second part, You Aren’t What You Don’t Eat, is all about nutrition.  Part 3 is really the guts of the book, explaining lifting, giving the plan, and showing the moves.

I got quite a lot out of this book.  I enjoyed that scientific research results were a common occurrence, because as a scientist I am always skeptical of claims without evidence.  I also liked the conversational I’m-going-to-tell-you-how-it-is style that the writer had throughout the book.  It didn’t feel like he was “talking down” to you, which is often the feeling I get when I read articles men have written about female fitness.  I’m not new to working out, though I am newer to free weights, so while a lot of this information wasn’t necessarily new, it was a bit more in-depth than I had previously delved.

I clouded over on the nutrition section a bit.  Part of it was because I have plenty of other nutrition/diet references, and it wasn’t really why I bought to book.  The meal plan just felt unneeded, at least in my mind.  I found the protein section interesting though; I’ve come to realize most nutritionists will tell you that people eat more than enough protein, but fitness/lifting gurus will often tell you you’re not eating enough.  Both sides of the debate sound reasonable, and I’m frankly still hanging out in the middle.  For example, about a week into the lifting plan, I quickly realized I was not eating properly to be lifting 3x a week and training for a half marathon.  I made strong efforts to increase my protein intake, and it seems to have helped.  The downside of that is I actually have a really hard time eating as much protein as this book and sites like suggest I eat, and eating more protein tends to cause me to slack on my fruits and veggies.


I’ve successfully completed Stage 1 of the plan.  There are 7 stages, each of them marked out clearly for you in the book – what to do each day, how many times a week to work out, how to do each move, etc.  Honestly, there were times where I felt like I couldn’t possibly be doing enough work to see results.  Sure enough, the one-month progress photos don’t lie!  I am currently taking a week off, as suggested, and then starting up Stage 2.  I’ve actually been incorporating the lifting into my 3x a week half marathon training, so when that’s over in March it’ll be interesting to see where this plan takes me on its own.

While I can’t speak for the rest of the stages yet, I’d definitely have to recommend this book to any women looking to start throwing around some weight in the gym.  I’ve really, really enjoyed branching out into the world of free weights, and I am thankful to have this book explaining it all to me.  I needed some kind of plan to get started, and this book gave me that plus a plethora of information and research behind it.  Check it out!!

{This week I learned how to add photos from my phone to my media library without saving them to my computer first.  The joys of technology!!}


5 responses to “Book Review: The New Rules of Lifting for Women

  1. Pamela D February 19, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    This sounds like an interesting read. I am not comfortable with using free weights, but I would like to change that!


  2. myria101 February 19, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I bought this book in October and have yet to crack the spine other than doing the initial flipbook type looking through it. I am making a note to get it out and really take a look. I have a trainer twice a week so I get those workouts in, but I want to do more. Great progress too!


  3. Maria Matthews February 19, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Interesting post. I’m 54 and not unfit, I used to run and compete but now my main aim is to stay healthy. When my back started to give a little trouble I started Kettlebells and Pilate sessions. They helped and I’ve moved to Strength and Mobility, I’m the oldest woman in the class and it shows in some regard because I am quite happy to remain at lifting 30kgs until I get stronger. The younger women are pulling ahead of me each week . I think I need to read the new rules of lifting book and get some tips.


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