435 of 451 people found the following review helpful
I'm a fifty year-old guy who's long been more into cardio workouts than weights. Sure, I might do a half-hearted circuit on machines after jumping off a treadmill, but like many folks, I thought cardio workouts were tantamount to "real" exercise. Then I happened upon this book. It struck a chord with me, and I decided that free-weight training was in my future.
One day, I bravely picked up an empty Olympic bar and embarked on the first exercise of Schuler and Cosgrove's "Break-in" program: the squat. "Fifteen reps with 45 pounds," I told myself, "I can do this." However, I stopped at twelve reps. I stopped at twelve reps because I really wanted to avoid forever being tagged as the guy who collapsed in the power cage with forty-five measly pounds atop his shoulders. I forgot all about the prescribed one-minute resting period between sets, and simply waited for my legs to quit shaking. This took significantly longer than one minute. A profound realization overtook me: I was a wimp--a six-four, two hundred and forty pound wimp. At that moment, I decided that I'd spent decades of my life ignorant of what constituted "real" exercise.
The upper-body exercises went better. The real challenge, at that point, was walking from station to station. If the gym had offered me a wheelchair to move between exercises, I would have humbly taken them up on it.
The next morning, I felt sore, although I told myself that it wasn't so bad. Then came the second morning. I got out of bed, and for a moment, I considered asking my wife to call 9-1-1. My upper legs felt as if someone had taken a meat tenderizer to them. For about the next week, my lower body reminded me that I might have bitten off more than I could chew.
It took me two weeks to gather the courage to embark upon the Break-in program again. (I felt torn between that and self-flagellation.) The second time around, things began on a little better note. I still couldn't get through a full two sets, but I was no longer moving between stations at tortoise speed.
I'm now finishing the four-week Break-in program. I'm still not using much weight for the squats, but I've graduated from the empty bar, and I'm completing all of the reps. Instead of staggering out of the gym trying not to vomit, I'm doing Cosgroves's "Afterburn" program on cardio machines to top off my workout. I'm glad I've stuck with it, especially when I run up hills and notice that my heart rate is lower than before I began the program. It never occurred to me that free-weight training would benefit my cardio activities.
Of course, as a newbie to free-weight training, I can't offer a valid comparison between the NROL programs and others. However, I like the idea that the Break-in program uses higher reps with lower weights. I think the chance of connective tissue injury is lessened compared to the "standard" three sets of eight to twelve reps, and I think it's a much safer way to learn what's involved in working your muscles to exhaustion.
My lack of experience notwithstanding, I think this is a great book for those who want to break into free-weight training, with a caveat or two. Looking back, I wish I'd started my program with a couple of weeks of body weight exercises. I had a nagging feeling that I was running before I could walk when I began the program, a feeling confirmed by an article I later found on Alwyn Cosgrove's website. He wrote, " . . . the only reason to ever use external load (i.e. weights) is because your bodyweight is not enough resistance. Yet most guys are making exercises harder by adding external load, when they aren't capable of handling their bodyweight in the same exercise. I'm constantly amazed by how many people I meet who can bench press whatever pounds of weight, but are unable to perform 10 correct push ups (typically due to a lack of core strength and synergistic muscle stability). As far as I'm concerned - unless you can do an easy twenty push ups, you have no business getting under a bar for bench pressing. In my training facility everyone begins with bodyweight exercises. You have to earn the right to lift weights in my facility." In another article, Cosgrove states that a lifter shouldn't consider doing squats with a barbell until he or she can do a set of single-leg squats with body weight. If I'd discovered that advice in time, it might have saved me from a week of moving around like a hobbled, worn-out old gelding.
Also, rank beginners such as I might consider using the services of a personal trainer when learning the squat and deadlift, or at least ask the advice of an experienced lifter. Although I'm new to this free-weight game, I'm convinced that the squat and deadlift are safe for most folks IF correct form is used. That's a big "if," however. In my case, I found the deadlift to be counterintuitive, and I had to use a mental checklist of sorts to avoid slipping into bad form.
So, I heartily recommend this book, given those qualifications. Schuler has a relaxed writing style I found effective and enjoyable, and Alwyn Cosgrove appears to be one of the most qualified and respected trainers out there. I've lost 11 pounds in the last month, with only minor changes in diet. That's quite heartening: at fifty, I've found cardio workouts are no longer the magic bullet for weight loss that they were in younger years.
And, that's only with the Break-in program. Next up is Cosgrove's Fat Loss program. Let me at `em!
80 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2006
This is a phenomenal book for anyone, from the personal trainer down to the weekend-warrior. As a physical therapist and certifeid strength & conditioning specialist, I appreciated all of the research references. Lou and Alwyn have done their homework to make this program. I'm looking forward to using their workouts and I'll report back in the future (for those that may find it helpful). Although, there are "only" 6 basic moves, there are many variations of the moves, so don't think for a minute that the routines will be boring.
BTW, this ties in real nicely with the works of Gray Cook, who has developed a Functional Movement screen around the 7 main movements of the body. Funny, how these tie in together. Its about time that someone has made this program simple for the masses. Lou, Alwyn, Mark Verstegen, Gray Cook, and Mike Boyle have got IT. Nice job to the authors!!!
125 of 141 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2007
First of all, I'm a woman, and this book is clearly not geared towards women. I've been lifting for 15 years, on and off. I take it very seriously and I really enjoy the sport. I was previously using "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women" by James Villepigue and Hugo Rivera. It's a very good book for beginner/intermediate lifters. It's concisely written, the authors take fitness seriously and explain the proper form and execution of all the exercises they introduce in the book. The workouts offer a fantastic starting point for lifters, but after 3 months, you're going to have to start developing your own to keep making progress. (A side note: "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women" is almost word for word identical to "The Body Sculpting Bible for Men." The same is true for the "Abs" books written by these authors, which makes me think that the books are ultimately more about making money than promoting the science of lifting. If you were left confused by the explanations or lack thereof in New Rules, try the Body Sculpting Bible.
The New Rules of Lifting is based on some very cutting edge research in muscle cell recovery. Turns out, you make the most gains for the time you invest if you work to exhaustion and give your muscle cells several days to recover! I was hugely sceptical of this idea as essentially a life long lifter. I was born and raised on the 3 lifting days with cardio days in between for a total of six days a week with one day off. No more. Two intense lifting days a week, well separated with each other. I do aerobic fitness training between lifting days using an ironman heartrate monitor, specifically to widen my range of aerobic fat-burning capacity. This is a very different goal than endurance training, which New Rules says can conflict with a serious weight training program.
Here is what I am most impressed with. New Rules sites many, many scientific studies to back up the advice given and it has a bibliography at the back of the book that can allow you to find and read those scientific studies for yourself.
Here is what I am least impressed with. This book could be half as long if the author would just cut out the "witty banter" which is sometimes amusing, and sometimes offensive. I understand that the book is geared towards men, and crude language in and of itself isn't my problem. I bought the book for the science and the technical advice. All the anecdotes and humorous asides just get in my way. That said, if you have the patience to wade through the unimportant jabber, the program itself is challenging and highly effective. If you are not a highly self-motivated person who is willing to work to physical exhaustion and be very soar afterwards, this may not be the book for you.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2011
My background: I started using this book shortly after turning 29. At 5'10, I dropped from 215 pounds to 170 pounds through smarter eating and exercise 2-3 times per week (P90x, treadmill, light lifting). After getting as small as I wanted, I decided to start getting bigger. That meant lifting. As a high school athlete, I lifted often and got very strong. Since then I have been off and on in the weight room with far, far more days off than on. Over a decade of obesity and ineptitude in the gym made me feel like a far cry from my high school days. Fortunately, this book provided me with exactly what I needed: a concrete weight lifting regimen that kept me interested and motivated.
In rougly 6 months I...
- Gained 20-25 lbs of mostly muscle
- Gained >1.5 inches in my arms
- Gained 60-70 lbs in bench press
- Gained ~125 lbs in squat
- Gained ability to eat vastly more food, including those of dubious distinction (i.e. Deep-dish pizza), without putting on fat
- Gained first-hand knowledge of amazing lifts I never would have tried otherwise
- Maintained flexibility
- Maintained waist size
- Maintained social life (a max of ~8 hrs/wk in my initial over-zealousness, 2 or 3 60-90 minute workouts per week is enough for the book)
- Decreased level of self-consciousness at the gym
- Decreased reliance on cardio to maintain weight (rarely ran a whole mile, never more than 2)
- Decreased number of annoying fat folds under my butt cheeks from 2 to 0.
I recommend this book to guys who:
- have lost all the weight they want to lose and want to gain muscle
- have always been skinny and want to gain size
- are tired of going to the gym 3 times a week and never seeing the results they
want despite consistency
- can't give a definitive answer with concrete details when asked what they do at
- are overweight, enjoy the weight room and would rather slit their wrists than
run on a treadmill all day
- follow a weight lifting program but are looking for a new one to change things
- don't want to "get too big" (trust me, huge muscles won't sneak up on you,
you'll get defined on this program, too)
I don't recommend this book to guys who:
- are unwilling to do squats, dead lifts, or high weight, low rep sets.
- cannot follow directions and will try to alter the program
- are extremely overweight (consult a physician if unsure)
- have never stepped foot in a weight room...unless you have someone to watch
your form the first few times
- are afraid of being sore
It's hard for me to say enough about how crucial this book has been in my ascent to great fitness. I'm now 5'10, 190, bench over 300, squat roughly 400, have noticeably bigger arms, great definition throughout whole body, absolutely no joint pain (less than when I was doing P90x and running), and increased attention from men and women alike. Are there better books/programs?...maybe. This one works, though, and my two friends and I all are true believers. As a testament to this book, my friends and I constantly text each other about our love for this program and our successes. One friend texted me after a workout to tell me that he literally skipped between two sets because he was so pumped and felt so good. The other friend was hesitant to do squats and dead lifts and almost never started the program. Recently he went into the gym on a day the book recommended he take off and did dead lifts because, according to him, he couldn't stand to be away from dead lifts for over a week. Your body will start to fiend for the post-workout feelings you get from these lifts.
When I turn 30 this summer, I'll be stronger and healthier than I've ever been in my life with no doubt in my mind that I'll continue to improve and evolve as long as my body and time will allow me.
In conclusion, this book works. If you follow it, you'll get bigger, stronger, and feel better than you have in a long time.
*Update* - I recently turned 30 and am as in love with this program as I ever was. At just under a year into the program, I'm about 10 workouts behind the suggestion of the book, yet I'm still in incredible shape and always improving. Since writing this review I convinced my cousin to try the program and 3 months in I can't get him to shut up about how his legs "are like rocks!" His weight is about the same, 215 on a 6'1 frame, but his shape is changing. His shoulders are bigger, his waist smaller (his pants went from very tight to very lose), and all his lifts have gotten considerably stronger. Yesterday I gave my book to another friend along with my clipboard and some spreadsheets. He will make five people I know on this book's program. I'm confident he'll enjoy the same success as the other four have so far.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2008
I've been lifting weights in my local gym for about 2 years - doing circuits of the nautilus and cybex weight stack machines. I had been plateaued for a while and wanted a better understanding of which moves work which muscles, how to use the machines to best advantage, proper form etc... I bought "The New Rules of Lifting" looking for a basic guide and what I got was different from what I was expecting. The New Rules is an attempt to shake things up and it attacks a host of standard wisdoms - such as the importance of cardio exercise (your body will choose to adapt slow twitch muscles for cardio over fast twich for power - reducing your power gains) and stretching (stretching is necessary - but it's not about increasing flexibility beyond your usual range). The 'New Rules' also include an eye opening "no machines" rule. Lou Schuler writes the copy and Alwyn Cosgrove cooks up the exercises and the routines. In place of muscle isolating machine exercises, "New Rules" emphasizes free weight exercises that work whole groups of muscles while replicating commonly used movements in the six major movement categories: push, pull, bend, lunge, twist, and walk/run. There are relatively few major exercises listed - but a bunch of variations and supersets and combinations. The routines are mixed to form a whole year of constantly changing routines. I was looking for a guide to how to do standard gym sitting down machine based exercises Schuler/Cosgrove gave me an iconoclastic attack on that whole culture. I read it (and read a few other workout books - such as Schuler's other major book "Men's Health: The Book of Muscle" (with Ian King)) and let it sink in. I wasn't ready to abandon my routine. I also felt a bit leery of doing major free weight work without a lot of practice. I started trying out the moves at home, with minimal weight on the bar. Once I gained a little confidence I started doing it at the gym. Wow.
Starting any new routine gives you results, but this was something more. The classic exercises emphasized in "New Rules" (the squat, lunges, dead lift, good morning, lat row, Russian twist, bench press, military push, pullup (or lat pulldown) really do get whole groups of muscles worked at one time. Cosgrove has sweated the details with the routines - with some wonderful instructions on varying the timing, doing supersets, combo movements, and moving through periods of lower weight/higher reps; higher weight/lower reps; less weight and explosive movements. The rationale for each stage is well argued in the text.
Despite having a lot of old fashioned exercises, this isn't a traditional routine. There are no biceps isolating exercises (or almost none). You'll end up doing moves that few others in the gym are doing. I'm only a month into the first program so I can't say definitively that this is brilliance - but I there's no debating that my whole approach to weights has been transformed. For me the biggest revelations were:
1) balance work on each side of a joint (maybe obvious to some - but awareness of this was huge for me). For example - if you do work on the "push" side (like a bench press) you must do equal work on the "pull" side of the same joint (shoulder) (i.e. rows/lat pulls). I really notice this whole issue now and I feel much better for it.
2) emphasize the largest muscles groups. That means that squats, dead lifts, lunges, and good mornings are the bread and butter. I used to work the upper body more than the lower - now I achieve a much better balance. I really feel it - especially with climbing stairs and biking. It feels good.
3) put the twist motion on equal footing with the other major motions. In the past abdominal work meant crunches. Now I'm putting much more emphasis on twisting motions and my waist has tightened up and my back feels better (even with the low-back scary dead lifts).
I had been looking for a book on how to optimize the weight lifting regimen I already know and this book demanded I scrap almost everything I did. I didn't want to hear it at first. Now that I've given it a try it has revolutionized my understanding of how to work my body and how to use free weights. I feel I'm working out whole areas of my body more efficiently in a shorter time. I've also been able to grab a few ad-hoc workouts outside the gym (like the time early morning I had a half hour alone at the train platform and used my heavy knapsack to do squats, lunges, militaries, explosive pushups, and rows to get a near full body workout. This might not have occurred to me in my "machine" lifting phase. Highly recommended for weight lifting folks looking to take it to the next level and shake things up.
Two significant observations: 1) Lou Schuler writing is engaging - but he doesn't vary the story much among his various books. His chapters on basic wisdom and physiology are essentially identical in the 3 books of his that I've read (Men's Health: Home Workout Bible and Men's Health: The Book of Muscle). What's different in each of these books is that he's paired with a different trainer who emphasizes different exercises (or specifies that a given exercise be done in a slightly different way) and there's different plans. I like "Men's Health: Book of Muscle" a lot and wouldn't say that I'd necessarily recommend New Rules over it - but I've chosen to work "New Rules" first and I can vouch for it. "Book of Muscle" has a lot more exercises and a more conventional muscle isolating point of view (although it's mostly free weights too).
2) I got the Kindle version and this is one of those books you should buy on paper. The workout regimens are tables of data that are presented as small and difficult to read pictures on Kindle. You'll want to make photocopies of the workouts to take to the gym. With the Kindle version you can't do that - you must transpose the workouts yourself. You still get all the info - but you give yourself more work with the Kindle version if you're really going to work the plans.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2006
Between Schuler's self-effacing humor and Cosgrove's heiny-kicking programs, you can't go wrong with this book. Schuler and Cosgrove helped me look at my lifting routine in a whole new way. I'm no longer stressed out that I'm "missing" a muscle or muscle group, I'm working to muscle fatigue every time I work out--and yet I'm spending less time in the gym per session. Another plus: I emailed Lou Schuler to ask if I needed to modify any of the programs because I'm a woman; he responded in about an hour. Very impressive. I highly recommend this book for beginner and intermediate weightlifters. Advanced lifters will no doubt be disappointed at the lack of "curl" exercises. See the book for Schuler's take on why all those myriad curls are unnecessary. I for one found it liberating--saves me so much time to cut out hammer curls, preacher curls, concentration curls, etc., etc.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2006
Schuler and Cosgrove do a great job in this book of designing programs and more importantly they create a framwork for workout design that prevents stagnation for long-term lifting.
My criticisms are minor and not germane to the main subject matter of the book:
1) The tone, while occasionally amusing, can be offputting when the jokes fall flat, which they do often.
2) The author, Lou Schuler occasionally belabors a point for effect, but the result is that the reader skips ahead out of annoyance, missing an important idea.
3) The role of pure cardio work in resting days or off days isn't addressed adequately, in my opinion, although it is addressed to a degree.
None of that should take away from the fact that I highly recommend this book. I've been execising seriously for five years and this is the best book I've read on the subject.
40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2006
The writing is very conversational and the information will probably surprise a lot of people that have been "lifting" for many years. But "New Rules" is an excellent book on what people really know about building complete, strong, functional bodies.
You'll find a lot of commonality, and some differences in approaches, with the methods in books like "Outside Fitness", "Core Performance", and "Muscle Logic". All of these are excellent as well and fundamentally get down to similar ideas of building strength and stability.
Like other reviewers I loved the routines and thinking behind them in New Rules. Outside Fitness uses a similar approach as do some other books but New Rules takes a different approach and the writing style if great. I am looking forward to many months of fun applying the routines and enjoying this book again and again.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2006
I enjoyed this book and read through it in a matter of days. Lou Schuler has a great writing style that really fits this type of book.
"New Rules" doesn't beat you down with a bunch of science and big words that you're not likely to understand (or remember, for that matter). What it does have is a "new" way to think about weight lifting. (I quote the word "new" because Lou points out that, although he thought he was breaking ground here, after some research he realized the thinking is actually decades old.)
"New Rules" is not about body parts (outdated thinking) and it's not strictly about planes of motion (a newer and better philosophy than body part training). "New Rules" encourages you to think about the basic movements of life. How do you move, or how does your body move, as you live your life each day? The book posits that the human body evolved throughout time to be really good at six basic movements, and so it makes sense to focus your training on those movements. Isolation exercises, Lou argues, don't make sense because your body doesn't work in isolation.
One of the unexpected takeaways for me was that "New Rules" has gotten me excited about doing the lunge and all its variations, while at the same time taking my focus away from my chest, which I'm starting to realize just may not be an area in which I'll see much improvement. I'm learning to get excited about areas in which I AM seeing improvement (the aforementioned lunge, as well as squats) and not be disappointed if my bench doesn't improve. (Mind you, this doesn't mean I'm going to stop trying to improve my chest, I'm just not going to obsess over it.)
The only thing that kept this from being a 5-star book for me was the nutrition chapters. If anything, I was left more confused after reading them, not less. Lou talks about the traditional advice when losing weight of "eat less, but exercise more" and says that this advice is wrong, but never says what the right thing to do is. Also, every book/article/etc. that I've ever seen on the topic of weight loss and muscle gain lumps people into 2 categories: scrawny guy who wants to pack on muscle, or fat guy who wants to lose weight. Where is the middle ground -- the guy who is happy with his weight, just not his body composition (too much fat around the gut, too little muscle everywhere else).
All in all, though, a HIGHLY recommended book not just for beginners but probably even for people who've been in the gym for a number of years. I think if they read this book they'll find themselves doing things in the gym they've never thought of before.
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2005
Having been in this industry for a long time, I have read hundreds of forgettable books on weight lifting. Not the case with the New Rules.
As a personal trainer and club owner who has hired trainers for years, I have been disappointed with the basic knowledge of applicants. Now I have finally found a resource for my trainers to make sure that we are all philosophically on the same page. It is now required reading at my fitness center. It is the fastest way I know to get someone "up to my level" in one book.
It is very readable, even by a non-professional. Along with being informative, it is also funny at times, and very motivating. It's not just just recommended reading from me... It's required!