Book Review: New Rules of Lifting for Life

Other than a few short breaks, I’ve been strength training since June 14, 2007. My routines and abilities have changed over time, and I’m always on the lookout for new challenges to keep me interested. When I saw earlier this year that Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove had a new book out in their New Rules for Lifting series, I knew I’d have to try it out. Their (with Cassandra Forsythe) New Rules of Lifting for Women*is one of my favorite exercise books, and I hoped the new book, The New Rules of Lifting for Life: An All-New Muscle-Building, Fat-Blasting Plan for Men and Women Who Want to Ace Their Midlife Exams*, would provide a course-shift for my mid-winter blobbiness and workout blahness.

Unfortunately, some bozo had the book checked out of the library and kept it for two months! I was beginning to think I was going to have to put an ad in the local paper asking for it to be returned, but I finally got my hands on it a couple of weeks ago. Joy!

I’m just barely into the workouts at this point, but although they’re not hugely different from what I was doing before with respect to the types of exercises, the order and the reps of phase one are a definite departure for me. They’re also a departure from some of the previous New Rules programs.

Lifting for Life (LfL) is targeted to a middle-aged audience (folks waaaay older than me) and people in injury recovery. The focus is core, core, core, but there’s not a crunch or back extension in sight. It’s all about building muscle in the core (trunk) in order to strengthen and protect the spine, using total-body exercises that emphasize strength, balance, and flexibility. Since I have no intentions of entering the amateur or professional body-building arenas, this is right up my alley!

The program is split into three phases: Transform, Develop, and Maximize, designed to cover six months in total. So far, I’m just working in the Transform phase. I’ll worry about the next phase when I get there.

Each phase has two workouts, A and B, which are performed on different days. These are both full-body workouts, but A targets more upper body and B takes care of the lower body. Exercises are divided into categories: push, pull, squat, lunge, hinge, and single-leg stance. You can choose your own exercises, based on level of ability, as long as you stay true to the category. If, for example, someone has the audacity to be using my spot when I’m ready for some push-ups, I can move over to a bench for chest presses instead since both are “push” exercises.

Here’s what my current schedule looks like:

Workout A    
Category/exercise Sets/reps My choice
Core    
– Stability 2 x 30 seconds Plank (2 x 60 seconds)
– Dynamic Stability 2 x 10 Stability Ball Mountain Climbers
Power (lower body) 2 x 5 Dumbbell swings
Strength    
– 1a) Squat 1 or 2 x15 squat to row
– 1b) Pull 1 or 2 x15 Combo: squat to row
– 2a) Single-leg stance 1 or 2 x15 Single leg deadlift
– 2b) Push 1 or 2 x 15 Chest presses
Metabolic 5-10 min. Bicycle/treadmill/elliptical
Workout B    
Category/exercise Sets/reps My choice
Core    
– Stability 2 x 30 seconds Plank (2 x 60 seconds)
– Dynamic Stability 2 x 10 Kneeling cable half-chop
Power (upper body) 2 x 5 Push-up/release off the low bar
Strength    
– 1a) Hinge 1 or 2 x15 Bridges with stability ball
– 1b) Push 1 or 2 x15 Single arm shoulder presses
– 2a) Lunge 1 or 2 x15 Combo: face pulls/rear lunge
– 2b) Pull 1 or 2 x 15 Combo: face pull/rear lunge
Metabolic 5-10 min. Bicycle/treadmill/elliptical

As you can see, I save a bit of time by doing one combo move in each workout: squat to rows in Workout A and tacking a rear lunge onto the face pull in Workout B. I could do those individually, but I figure if I’ve got the cable, why not put it to good use. LOL The only downside is that in order to get 15 lunges on each leg, I end up doing 30 face pulls in each set.

Not a hard-core program, but my muscles are twitching at the end of it. I even had to take Ibuprofen the day after I first tried the single-leg deadlifts. I’d never done those before, and my thighs and hammies let me know it.

I should also mention that there’s a warm-up group of exercises that are common across all workout, but I don’t do those because they require lunging and jumping around the gym. Not possible in my small and congested gym, so I do my regular warm-up.

I’ll also mention that there’s a section on nutrition and eating, but to be honest, I skipped all that. :) I’m mostly happy with the way I eat.

I am loving this program so far! I’m even enjoying the planks, now that they’re at the front of the workout. I had to acknowledge today that the fact that I’m at 60-second planks and not minding them is a sign that I need to move up a plank, so to speak. I’ll stick the ball under my feet on Friday, and see how that works out, or maybe I’ll start working on my side planks again. They’re rather pitiful. :)

As for results, I’m already feeling a difference in my arms and legs, and I’m noticing a slight tightening of the squish belly. I also noticed that pants that were starting to feel a bit snug button easily. Beyond that, I have no idea. I figured out a long time ago that I’m not the best person to evaluate my reflection in the mirror. If I feel good, that’s good enough for me! :)

One other note: If you are just starting out with exercise and try this program, you may have to/want to spend a few extra weeks in the Transform stage. When I first started exercising, I couldn’t have done 15 reps of anything. Heck, thanks to the pickleball knee, I still can’t do 15 front or static lunges! DO NOT feel bad if you have to work up to the full rotation. (And if you’re able to jump right in and do it all from the beginning, please don’t tell me! :) )

So this one is a two-thumbs-up from me! There are so many exercises and variations that I expect to play around with different combinations for quite some time!

Got a new favorite exercise or program to share? Questions about this one?

Disclaimer: The two links marked with an asterisk above are to my Amazon affiliate account, for which I receive a small commission. While that would be nice, I do encourage supporting your local library and your local bookstores first! This explains my bank balance, but so be it. :)



16 thoughts on “Book Review: New Rules of Lifting for Life

  1. THIS is the review I have been waiting for!!! I have been eyeing this book as a purchase, although to do at home since I am gymless currently.

    I actually like single leg deadlifts. With my one leg having muscle weakness, it really is apparent when I do this exercise.

    I might have to take the plunge and buy the book with my next paycheck 😀

    • I’m liking the single leg deadlifts, too, Lori. I’m focusing more on the balance aspect of it right now (it’s comical, really), so I’m using a lighter weight, but I suspect it won’t be long until I’m ready to start moving it up.

      If you’re thinking of the Kindle version, I’ve read some reviews that mentioned the charts are wonky. If that’s all that’s wonky in it, that’s not a problem, because you can get the charts online via a link in the book. Or you can just write out the workouts on a sheet of paper like I did. :)

  2. I’ve heard a lot about the New Rules for Lifting, but I haven’t had the chance to check out any of the information. I don’t currently have a gym membership. I do have a cardio room at a community center that has the all in one machines. I know I need to be doing strength….

    • Yes, you do need to be doing strength, Julie! :) Seriously, from what I’ve heard and read, it really does help with the running. A good place to start is with basic body weight exercises that you can do at home. No gym required, plus you don’t have to worry about anyone seeing you if you tip over. Not that I’ve ever done that. 😉

  3. I know I need to do some strength training. I have trouble understanding directions in books. I say I’m a monkey see, monkey do kind of person because if I can see it done, I’ll be much more likely to “get” it. I am going to check out the first book you mentioned to see if it is simple enough for me to understand.

    • I hear you on the need for an in-motion demo, Caron! I do a lot better if I can see it in motion. Thank goodness for google search and youtube! There’s a video for almost every exercise. Except face pulls with lunges, which is one of my favorites. Maybe I should do one. :)

  4. LOVE the review Cammy AND that you shared your routine! I definitely must find this book & check it out. Core needs to be changed up a lot & at our age, we need all the help we can get. THANK YOU!!!!!

    • Oh yes, I know. Even though I’m also FAR FROM middle age, my days of “do 100 jumping jacks, 100 crunches, 200 whatevers” are long gone. Oh wait, I never had those days. :)

  5. I’ve always been really intimidated by lifting weights, I have used the machines at the gym but felt they weren’t doing too much, I have free weights at home but they collect dust because I honestly have no clue what to really do with them that will actually make a difference

      • Hey thanks for the links! videos really help- i’ve seen pictures before but when you can only see parts of how the exercise should look it gets sort of confusing! I just need to get my butt downstairs now and actually try these :)

  6. Thanks for the review – since several people have mentioned this book to me lately I was curious. I might have to check it out in more detail soon.

  7. I’m still very much in the beginning of NROLFW, so I have time yet, but do you think this would be a good next step after I finish that program?

    • I do, Jenn. There are some other “New Rules” books, too, that you might like. I haven’t seen any of those, but the series overall gets good reviews.

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