The New Rules of Lifting For Women

Good morning!

Since distance running (to me that means greater than 6 miles) has been put on hold for the forseeable future, I’ve decided to focus on strength, sprint triathlon training (especially swimming), and weight loss (I have about 20 extra pounds hanging around–more on this in a future post).  I will still be running, it will just be at a nice steady pace anywhere from 2-6 miles, then eventually picking up the speed.

First things first: let’s talk about the strength training.

I’ve decided to commit the next 6+ months to a program called the New Rules of Lifting For Women (NROLFW), by Lou Schuler. 

It is a seven stage program that encourages heavy lifting in order to get great results.  As a gal who has read a lot of Fitness, Self, and Shape magazines in my late teens through my 20s, I always thought “toning” with 5 to 10 lb weights was the way to go.  Well, I never saw results.  I would always limit myself at the gym too, just using the machines and going no heavier than what I was comfortable with because I didn’t want to get “bulky”.  Now I know better (well, I probably knew better anyway) and I’m ready to lift as the NROLFW book says, “like a man”.

I attempted this program last year and didn’t get too far, I was much more interested in running and just doing cardio in general (I love cardio), but since my running is limited, I figured now is the right time.

I read the book again cover to cover and decided to commit to this program on April 1st, and I did!


The Seven Stages:

As I said above the NROLFW is a seven stage program.  As I do a review after every stage, I will go into more depth about each.

Stage 1 is the longest, lasting about 6 weeks (if you do the recommended 3 workouts per week–which is my goal, but the book also says 2 workouts is okay too).  There are two different workouts, A and B and you alternate between the two, for a total of 16 workouts in this stage.

Stages 2 through 5 are 8 workouts each, each stage lasting about 3 weeks (if sticking to the 3 workout per week rule).

Stage 6 is all about the pull up. This stage continues to focus on strength, but the main goal of this stage is getting to do a full pull-up–something I’ve NEVER EVER been able to do and I’m excited for this!  This stage has a total of 10 workouts, lasting about 4 weeks.

Stage 7 is the final stage, has 12 workouts and lasts about 4 weeks.

All stages give clear instructions on how many reps, times per week, rest intervals, the only thing that is up to you is the weight you lift.  Schuler gives a good rule of thumb:  “Choose a weight you think you should be lifting, and add 5 lbs.”  Basically you get from this program what you put into it.

I also really like the way the book has detailed instructions with pictures on how to do all of the weightlifting moves, with variations on each move.

Although I’m not following the eating guidelines/recommended diet, I do like some of the points the author makes.  I like how Schuler doesn’t make carbs an enemy (you need carbs to function people!!) and gives examples of healthy food choices, also he talks about taking in enough calories and how so many women think the key is to eat less, exercise more.  He does not turn this into a complete weight loss program.  Instead, he gives recommendations on how to fuel yourself for strength training, as well as just generalized healthy eating.  It’s very simple.

As I complete each stage I’ll post a summary of my experience, and more importantly,   progress.  Below is me on day 1, being one of those jerks that takes selfies in the locker room (I made sure no one was around).


Have you done the NROLFW?  How did you like it?

11 thoughts on “The New Rules of Lifting For Women

  1. I’ve heard great things about this program but I haven’t tried it myself. My trainer (who’s a powerlifting superwoman!) kept referencing this book when we first started training together, and it’s been on my to-read list for awhile. Thanks for sharing!

  2. How funny, I’m reading this book now. A friend recommended it to me and she’s currently doing the stage one exercises. I haven’t gotten to the nutrition section yet but I really like what the book has to say so far. I also heard about “toning” and high reps of low weights my whole life but this really does make a lot more sense. I think I’m going to give it a try once I’m done reading the book. I look forward to following along with you :)

    • That’s so cool, I’m only on workout #4 (tonight) but I’m really enjoying it. You should definitely give it a try, it would be so nice to follow someone else doing the same program :)

  3. I did this last year and I saw some great results. It *really* helped my running and made me faster. I stopped doing it and I got slower again. I’m wanting to start it back up. LOVE this program!

  4. Pingback: running muffin | 5 Fitness Goals

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