The New Rules of Lifting for Women


Last week, I read the book The New Rules of Lifting for Women, by Lou Schuler. The book includes a training plan including recipes and food ideas. It’s a relatively quick read, given that there are several tables and sections that you will not necessarily read as they are photos of the exercises being performed, etc. The narrative can be tough to get through due to the studies and statistics that are referenced, but I was glad I pushed through. At one point, I struggled to stay with Schuler because this really is a lifting plan. He doesn’t bash endurance exercises but they have little to no place in a lifting plan. It’s important to understand your goal. When I reminded myself that I don’t have to agree with every single statement and follow the plan to a T, I was able to enjoy it more. That being said, he does explicitly state that if you do not follow the plan as prescribed, you will not get the results for which the plan is written. That doesn’t mean you won’t get any results or that you won’t be happy with them but the plan is written in a detailed way. I did have to stop and reevaluate my goal while reading, and it is this: To continue to run endurance distances while also improving my overall strength, which will in turn improve my endurance. I’m a believer that both go hand in hand. They don’t necessarily need to be performed equally but it’s important to incorporate both into an overall plan. Okay, so now that I have restated to myself what my goal is, I can pick the book back up and read it through that lens. I don’t have to agree with every single piece of information that is fed to me. I can’t write Lou a nastygram either telling him I didn’t achieve the desired results if I don’t follow his plan but I can with some common sense mesh his plan and suggestions into my other goals. This might seem like it was a waste of time to read it at all if I don’t intend to follow the plan as written, without deviation, but it’s not. I welcome every bit of information so I can continue to grow. Each book I read or each visit to online forums expands my overall knowledge and gives me more ideas. If I glean a new piece of advice each time, I will be better off a month, a year, ten years from now.

One thing that I really liked is that Schuler talks about working small muscles on their own is a waste of time. He hails compound moves that target several large muscles. As I was reading, I realized that I do spend probably too much time working small muscles in an unnatural way. I really appreciated the book talking about working your muscles in a way your body naturally moves. Schuler talks about triceps kickbacks, for example. In this move, you are anchored on a bench. One knee and hand are firmly supporting you while you keep the other arm stiff against your body and bend and straighten from the elbow, with what he calls ‘Barbie weights’. Instead, he prefers for you to do more meaningful moves, squats, deadlifts, and the like to target large muscles in a way that your body would naturally move. Now, you might be thinking, but I don’t want to ‘bulk’….and ooohhhh does Lou have an answer there. Women do not bulk. They simply do not have the hormonal make up to bulk. In fact, he says it’s hard enough for men to bulk, women really need not worry that they will ‘accidentally’ bulk.

In a practical sense, in addition to the theory information I walked away with, I spotted a few recipes in the food section that looked appealing to me that I will likely try. I also will be trying some of the exercises in the plan. I am going to throw out the time wasting small muscle, little results moves I’ve been doing and focus more on the big muscles. What I am not willing to do is lift 2-3 days a week without copious amounts of endurance exercise in-between. To follow the plan, the amount and timing of the exercises to be performed also require rest days and the rest days are as important to the plan as the workout days. Instead, I will incorporate the book’s moves into the healthy mix of running and lifting that I already do.

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