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Review: The New Rules of Lifting for Women

The New Rules of Lifting for WomenThe New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I started getting interested in strength training, I swiped my husband's copy of The New Rules of Lifting. Note that it wasn't called The New Rules of Lifting for Men - there's only a small amount of information in that book that's particularly male-specific, but one of the authors is a former editor of Men's Health magazine, all the pictures illustrating the exercises are of men, and the whole thing does have a kind of dudely vibe. Still, when I learned that there was a New Rules of Lifting for Women, I wasn't sure whether I needed it. After all, a squat is a squat is a squat, right?

Yes and No. The basic training philosophy is the same, and probably about 3/4 of the exercises in the two books are the same. However, there are some differences:

New Rules of Lifting for Women (henceforth NRoLW) starts with a section on the eternal question of "Will lifting heavy weights make me bulky?" and then goes on to debunk some of the common misconceptions around things like "toning" and whether women should only lift small weights with high reps. None of this will be news if you've checked out some of the good women's weight training sites like, but it's a good compact summary of the relevant info.

NRoLW has a much larger section devoted to nutrition than NRoL, including a selection of recipes. It's quite refreshing to see the authors declare flat-out that calorie restricted diets suck. On the other hand, the food snob in me looks askance at their enthusiastic endorsement of whey protein powder. For the moment, I'm trying to see if I can eschew protein shakes in favor of just eating more Greek yogurt and lowfat cottage cheese.

As I said, the majority of the exercises depicted in the two books are the same. The main differences in NRoLW are that they included more detail on how to modify exercises like pushups to make them easier for women with less upper body strength, and they've included more unbalanced or one-legged exercises, which require you to do additional core work to keep things stable while you lift. NRoLW also streamlines the workout programs a bit - NRoL had various programs you could choose from based on your goals, experience level, amount of time available for training, etc. NRoLW pretty much has one basic program, with an additional set of workouts for women who particularly want to build the kind of upper body strength required to do pullups.

To summarize, if you're a woman, and you're new to weight-training, and you want a book that gives you everything you need to get started, get NRoLW. If you get really nerdy about it, you might want to also get NRoL just because it goes into a little more detail on exercise physiology, and will give you a few new exercises and training plans to consider.

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Tags: books, fitness, picking up heavy objects, reading, review

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