I’ve mentioned my weight lifting workouts on a few occasions, and since I know everyone must be dying to get the full scoop…here goes!
You can read Meghann’s final review of the program here.
Basics of the Program
NROLFW is a 6-month strengthening plan designed specifically for women. It is highly structured with specific workouts, sets, and reps that you are supposed to complete 3 times a week. There are seven different Stages of the plan, and each Stage lasts 3-6 weeks and includes two different Workouts (A and B) that are alternated throughout the Stage. It sounds a little confusing, but all of the details for every Stage and Workout are clearly outlined and organized within the book. Example:
Then, there are training log sheets that you can print out online (or copy from the book if you prefer) where you track the weight used for each set and workout within the stage.
The plan is good for me because I definitely need big time structure in a lifting plan if I’m going to follow it. When I’m on my own, I’ll lift weights here and there, switching it up based on whatever I feel like that day. Unfortunately, that approach doesn’t lead to actually getting stronger. Education on how to ‘actually get stronger’ is, in fact, a primary topic of the NROLFW book. Much more than just a listing of workout plans, the first 120 pages of the book are completely devoted to teaching the reader about why weight lifting is important and how to do it in a way that will actually make your muscles stronger. (spoiler: to get stronger you need to continuously be increasing the weight you use. Increasing the number of reps won’t do anything for increased strength, only endurance)
The book also has a lot of information about nutrition and the importance of protein in our diets (both in general and particularly for someone who is trying to gain muscle). I’ve read more than my fair share of nutrition and diet plans, and they generally seem to all follow the same outline: high emphasis on counting calories and making that count a low number, low emphasis on where those calories come from and proper balance of nutrients. Most diet plans I have read about in either books or magazines suggest somewhere in the range of 1,200-1,500 calories a day, sometimes adding in extra ‘reward’ calories based on exercise. I expected something similar from this book.
Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised! The nutrition and food advice given by NROLFW is a refreshing departure from the standard calorie restriction diets promoted to women in essentially every other ‘nutrition’ plan I have read. The section focusing on food is titled ‘You Aren’t What You Don’t Eat,’ and the author, Lou Schuler, goes on to describe typical diet advice as a fatally flawed “war against food.” One particularly poignant argument that Schuler makes has to do with the number of calories women are generally encouraged to eat on typical diet plans.
In a sub-section titled, ‘Calorie Restriction is the Worst Idea Ever,’ Schuler describes an organization called the Calorie Restriction Society. The organization believes that people can live longer, healthier, and better lives by limiting the amount of food they consume. Still, their website has a ‘risk’ section warning against some of the serious dangers associated with cutting calories. Dangers include: depression, loss of strength/muscle mass, deteriorating bone mass, hormonal disruption, diminished energy, infertility, and hunger (duh.). How many calories does the group encourage people to eat? Numbers starting at about 1,400.
Schuler then compares this practice to the first stage of The Sonoma Diet eating plan (a previous New York Times bestselling book with 4.2/5 stars on Amazon). The Sonoma Diet’s initial stage – as well as the general guidelines of nearly every other diet plan I have read in magazines or books – instructs dieters to eat 1,200-1,400 calories per day. Schuler sums it up too well to paraphrase:
Yes, the maximum calories [allowed] in the first phase of [the] diet is equal to the fewest calories eaten by members of a cult who try to live longer by teetering on the precipice of starvation.
That is seriously messed up.
Moral of the story: I am excited to do this plan because the book offers not only a potentially effective lifting plan but also a positive and healthy perspective on food and fitness.
Read details of each lifting Stage here!