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The New Rules of Lifting: Six Basic Moves for Maximum Muscle Paperback – December 26, 2008
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a"The New Rules of Lifting" is one of the first books on the subject that didnat make me want to smack the authors over the head with a rusty dumbbell. This book is painfully honest, refreshingly funny, and superbly informative.a a T.C. Luoma, Editor-in-Chief, T-Nation.com
?"The New Rules of Lifting" is one of the first books on the subject that didn?t make me want to smack the authors over the head with a rusty dumbbell. This book is painfully honest, refreshingly funny, and superbly informative.? ? T.C. Luoma, Editor-in-Chief, T-Nation.com
About the Author
Lou Schuler is a National Magazine Award-winning journalist, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and the co-author of popular diet and strength-training books. He has written and edited Men's Fitness, Men's Health, Men's Health Muscle, Men's Journal, and other magazines. Alwyn Cosgrove is co-owner, with his wife Rachel, of Results Fitness in Newhall, California. During his fifteen-year career as a strength and conditioning coach, Cosgrove has earned virtually every major certification, and worked with Olympic and national-level athletes, world champions and professionals in many sports. He's also a contributor to a variety of magazines and websites, including Men's Health and Men's Fitness.
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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!
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.
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!!!