Photo Credit: Curt Fuehr
Model: Jen Turnbull
To begin, this is my review on a popular fitness book: The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler with Cassandra Forsythe and workouts provided by Alwyn Cosgrove. I am a fan of Lou Schuler and really love his writing in general whether or not if its about fitness. The book is chock full of good information, and I cannot recommend it enough. I picked it up as a reference for helping women who are interested in strength training and I wanted to have a source I could point them to for further study. I have always believed that women should train like their counterparts so I believe this book is a must read for all women interested in the fitness and strength training lifestyle.
The book is comprised of three parts, here are my thoughts.
Part 1 – Behind The Cover Lines
In the beginning, god created barbells and people. He said lift them and you will grow to be strong and beautiful. So why do I only see the guys lifting heavy stuff while the girls zip away for hours on the treadmill? Lou opens up to talk about just why a woman should lift like a man. I covered this same topic in an article I wrote a few weeks ago titled You Don’t Need To Be An Oxygen Model To Have a Body Like One.
In the second chapter, The Truth About Your Muscles, Lou explains that men and women share the same exact muscle and fiber types. Anatomically, we are identical when looking at musculoskeletal make up but vastly different regarding hormonal profiles. The difference in hormone levels is exactly why a woman can train properly for as long as a male and never make the same amount of muscle mass gains. The testosterone that would make them huge and jacked just isn’t floating around in their bloodstream. Females can still build a beautiful physique with nothing but strength training – just look at the lovely ladies in Oxygen Mag. They are surely doing something right and I am positive that a sound strength program makes up a large part of their routine.
By the time I hit the third chapter, I knew this was going to be a really good and practical read.. I am glad Lou got this pertinent issue out of the way early on. Step away from the damn treadmill! He goes on to explain how lots of cardio is just not a necessity when it comes to losing fat. Of course cardio does play a role in creating a deficit sometimes but it’s definitely not the one and only way to do it. I also like the idea of cutting cardio to a minimum because it allows for optimal recovery between training sessions. It’s all a matter of your goals anyhow. I could keep going, but then you wouldn’t have a reason to buy the book.
Part 2 – You Aren’t What You Don’t Eat
The fourth, and fifth chapters cover the common dilemmas most women face when trying to build their ideal physique. The two main points Lou touches on are low calorie diets and the twisted fear of carbohydrates many in the fitness community have adopted. Many women believe that in order to keep the body fat off they must train a lot and eat very little. This will work and it will work very well for keeping the fat gain at bay, but it will not serve them one bit in their quest to resemble a goddess.
Also worth noting, Lou and Cassandra emphasize the importance of having a balanced diet; balance meaning macro nutrient structure. Too many nowadays are missing the forest for the trees. We all tend to get caught up in the latest and greatest diet. One day it’s no carbs, the next day it’s no fat, the next week its a bananas only diet. I was pleased to see they are not spouting off some of the boring old dogmas that have a 3 day shelf life. Follow the guidelines in the book, keep your diet balanced in terms of macros and the rest will fall into place.
The fifth and sixth chapters touch on keeping things simple whilst following the nutritional guidelines. There are also some meal plans as well which is always nice for variety. While I do not agree with some of the ideas about meal frequency, I feel that the information presented is very good nonetheless. I really like the way she explains the difference in macros and why they are important. Cassandra presents the importance of fish oil, mono/polyunsaturated and saturated fat, unprocessed carbs, protein and lastly, alcohol. You gotta love the Guinness and Oatmeal Stout, so drink and be merry! Seriously, the chapters on nutrition are easy to understand and more importantly, easy to apply to your busy lifestyle.
Part 3 – Resistance is Vital
Of course this is my favorite part. Take a lady, get her doing squats, deads, presses and rows and you create a walking Mona Lisa. The eighth chapter explains in brief that women have been doing some really silly things in the weight room and then suggests what they should be doing(training like a man). The rest of the book focuses on the programming, routines and different workout stages as one progresses. I was pleased to read that full body workouts were being advocated with a full days rest in between each bout of training. The exercise selection and pictorial examples are awesome to say the least and it’s always useful to have a reference of what a movement is supposed to look like.
So What Do I Think?
I think the book is a must read for any female wanting to get into strength training. The book is also very good for learning the basics of what works and what doesn’t considering all of the bad information floating around these days. For more information, check out Lou’s blog.
How many of you have read the book? Anyone on the NROL4W programs right now?