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My Review of The New Rules of Lifting for Women

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I just finished reading "The New Rules of Lifting for Women". I had heard a lot of good things about it, and I had hoped it would give me some guidance on doing my own weight training after we finish our contract with the personal trainer in the fall.

Well, it's a good book and I did learn from the information and some of the advice it contains, but I am very disappointed in the workouts it offers.

Despite the word "lifting" in the title, a large number of the exercises in the training plan are based on body weight. A better title would be "The New Rules of Weight Training for Women Who Want to Do Squats and Lunges and Pushups with a Few Barbell and Dumbbell Moves".

That's not necessarily a bad thing if you are an able-bodied beginner to weight training who is looking to work out mostly at home, or who is intimidated by the "big boy machines" at the gym. Of course, one premise of the book seems to be that the trainer who designed the workouts is anti-bodybuilding (fair enough -- I like the argument that the biceps curl is not a natural movement that the body would ordinarily make) and anti-machine.

The book implies that weight machines were invented to get people in and out of the gym quicker. I think this is meant to predispose the reader to accept the bodyweight exercises that make up the bulk of the training routines. However, there is another purpose for machines that the author fails to take into account, and that is, if you are not an able-bodied person who can just drop to the floor and do 20 pushups between sets, or do all kinds of fancy lunges with benches and swiss balls, machines allow you to exercise and build your muscles safely.

So, the inherent anti-machine bias was a big disappointment for me. I am not an able-bodied person who can just drop to the floor, or hop up on a step, or balance myself with one foot on a bench and the other on a stability ball (!) as exercises in the book require.

But not all of it was disappointing. There is some good information (only current to 2006, unfortunately, since that is when the book was written) on nutrition for weight training, and some very entertaining personal anecdotes from the author's long career as a writer specializing in Health and Fitness. The author is frank about the fact that some of the misinformation he is condemning at this point in his career are things he himself promoted at one time.

I do not think I am the target audience for this book. The book is great for women who are beginners to weight training, who are scared of using the complex machines at the gym, and who have no disability of motion or balance which would prevent them from performing floorwork and bodyweight exercises. Well, none of that applies to me, except maybe the fear of machines -- but my desire is to combat my fear by learning more about using them, not how to avoid them. And this book did not offer the information I am looking for to help with that.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    The book did get me to ask my trainer about modified pushups (against a bar on the Smith machine, not the "knees only" ladies' pushups we learned as kids), so that is one of the good things that came out of it.
    2743 days ago
    Sorry it wasn't what you were looking for : (
    2743 days ago
    Thanks for the review! emoticon
    2745 days ago
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