NROLFW: Stage 6

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As described in the NROLFW Overview (suggested prior reading), The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women is a 6-month strengthening plan. The plan includes 7 Stages, with two Workouts (A and B) for each Stage.

Summaries of Past Stages
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4
Stage 5

The New Rules of Lifting for Women

Stage 6 was all about variety. Each exercise within each workout had different set/rep instructions, so I’ll indicate that with my weights below.

Stage 6, Workout A (repeated 4 times)

Negative Chin Ups (3 sets of 1 for each workout)
Workout 1: completed all sets
Workout 4: completed all sets

Underhand Grip Lat Pulldown (10 sets of 2 for each workout)
Workout 1: 95 lbs
Workout 4: 105 lbs

Barbell Split Squat (workouts were sets x reps as follows: 2 x 10, 2 x 8, 3 x 6, 3 x 4, 2 x 10)
Workout 1: 20 pounds plus bar
Workout 4: 30 pounds plus bar

Push Up (workouts as follows: 2 x 10, 2 x 8, 3 x 6, 3 x 4, as many reps as possible)
Workout 1: 10
Workout 4: 19

Stage 6, Workout B (repeated 4 times)

Reverse Lunge, One Dumbbell on Shoulder (workouts as follows: 2 x 10, 3 x 8, 3 x 6, 4 x 4, 2 x 10)
Workout 1: 15 lbs
Workout 4: 20 lbs

Dumbbell 2-point Row (workouts as follows: 2 x 10, 3 x 8, 3 x 6, 4 x 4, 2 x 10)
Workout 1: 15 lbs
Workout 4: 20 lbs

Dumbbell Push Press (workouts as follows: 2 x 10, 3 x 8, 3 x 6, 4 x 4, 2 x 10)
Workout 1: 20 pounds
Workout 4: 20 pounds

Back Extension (workouts as follows: 2 x 10, 3 x 8, 3 x 6, 4 x 4, 2 x 10)
Workout 1: with 25 pounds
Workout 4: with 25 pounds

Incline Reverse Crunch (workouts as follows: 2 x 10, 3 x 8, 3 x 6, 4 x 4, 2 x 10)
Workout 1: 10 reps
Workout 2: 10 reps

Overall, Stage 6 was a nice shake up with more variety. I don’t think I changed my weight enough throughout the different workouts to really get the full benefit of doing different set/rep combinations. Still, it’s nice to know I’m done with the second to last stage, and it will definitely be an accomplishment when I finish the whole program!

More NROLFW
Overview
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4
Stage 5

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NROLFW: Stage 5

As described in the NROLFW Overview (suggested prior reading), The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women is a 6-month strengthening plan. The plan includes 7 Stages, with two Workouts (A and B) for each Stage.

Summaries of Past Stages
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4

The New Rules of Lifting for Women

Stage 5 increases sets and decreases reps from previous stages. All exercises in Stage 5 are in done in 4 sets of 4. The idea is that lower reps allow greater weight. Here’s my progress for each exercise:

Stage 5, Workout A (repeated 4 times)

One-armed Dumbbell Snatch
Workout 1: 25 pounds
Workout 4: 25 pounds
*this exercise never felt smooth enough to go up a weight. If my gym had 2.5 lb incremental weights, I would have tried 27.5, but I would have had to jump all the way to 30 lbs. which felt like too much.

Dumbbell Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
Workout 1: 30 lbs in each hand
Workout 4: 35 lbs in each hand

Barbell Bent Over Row
Workout 1: 20 pounds plus bar
Workout 4: 30 pounds plus bar

Dumbbell Single-arm Overhead Squat
Workout 1: 10 pounds overhead, 20 pounds in arm in front
Workout 4: 15 pounds overhead, 25 pounds in arm in front
* In this exercise you hold one arm over your head while the other arm is in front of you, slightly raised.

Dumbbell Incline Bench Press
Workout 1: 30 pounds in each hand
Workout 4: 30 pounds in each hand
*What held me back in this exercise was getting the weights above my chest. I felt strong enough to bench press a greater weight, but lifting the larger from my lap to bench press position was too hard. Again, a partner would have helped with this.

Plank
Workout 1: 3  sets of 120 seconds
Workout 4: 3 sets of 120 seconds

Reverse Wood Chop
Workout 1: 20 pounds
Workout 4: 22.5 pounds

Stage 5, Workout B (repeated 4 times)

Barbell Romanian Deadlift/Bent Over Row
Workout 1: 20 pounds + bar
Workout 4: 40 pounds + bar

Partial Leg Squat
Workout 1: 20 pounds in each hand
Workout 4: 25 pounds in each hand

Wide-grip Lat Pulldown
Workout 1: 100 pounds
Workout 4: 90 pounds
*For some reason the last workout for this exercise felt really difficult and I couldn’t do the 100 lbs. I was at a different gym than I normally go to, and I wondered if one of the machine there was actually heavier (or my regular one lighter)?

Back Extension
Workout 1: 4 reps with 25 pounds
Workout 4: 4 reps with 25 pounds

YTWL
Workout 1: 10 pounds in each hand
Workout 2: 10 pounds in each hand
*The name of this exercise is derived because you make your arms go in the shape of the letters ‘y, t, w, l.’

Swiss-ball Crunch
Workout 1: 5 reps holding a 20 lb. weight overhead
Workout 4: 12 reps holding a 25 lb. weight overhead

Hip Flexion
Workout 1: 5 reps
Workout 4: 12 reps
*I used a medicine ball to do this exercise. With my legs supported on the ball and my arms holding up my torso, I used by abs to roll the ball inward, tucking in my knees. To make the exercise more difficult, I focused on trying to lift my butt in the air and form a pike position.

Lateral Flexion
Workout 1: 8 reps per side
Workout 4: 8 reps per side with a 5 pound weight
*In previous stages I did this exercise either on the floor or with a stability ball. For this stage I used the back extension bench and turned to my side. I kept my arms extended, adding weight during the last workout.

Prone Cobra
Workout 1: three sets of 120 seconds
Workout 4: three sets of 120 seconds

Overall, Stage 5 was good for pushing me to try heavier weights, but I think this would have gone a lot better for me if I had a lifting coach or partner. I get nervous to add too much weight when I’m by myself since I don’t to get hurt of damage anything (like a face – mine or someone else’s!). I might have been able to max out at a higher weight for some of the exercises, but I did what I was comfortable with and felt challenged throughout.

More NROLFW
Overview
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4

NROLFW: Stage 4

As described in the NROLFW Overview (suggested prior reading), The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women is a 6-month strengthening plan. The plan includes 7 Stages, with two Workouts (A and B) for each Stage.

Summaries of Past Stages
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3

The New Rules of Lifting for Women

Stage 4 – like Stages 2 and 3 – is a three week stage. Exercises are done in three sets with eight repetitions. The goal is to build strength from the 3 sets of 6 reps in Stage 3. Stage 4 has a pretty even balance of leg, arms, and abs exercised – about 3 moves focusing on each of those groups per workout. Here’s my progress for each exercise:

Stage 4, Workout A (repeated 4 times)

Front Squat with Push Press
Workout 1: 55 pounds
Workout 4: 55 pounds
*this exercise was very difficult for me. I didn’t feel like it got any easy throughout, so I never felt comfortable adding weight. If I had a spotter, I might have been more likely to add another few pounds.

Step-Up
Workout 1: 30 lbs in each hand
Workout 4: 30 lbs in each hand
*again, I thought increasing weight in this exercise could have led to injury. Also, since the weights were being held by more arms, I felt more limited by more arm strength than my ability to use my legs to step-up with the weight.

Dumbbell One-point Row
Workout 1: 25 pounds in each hand
Workout 4: 35 pounds in each hand

Static Lunge, Rear Foot Elevated
Workout 1: 30 pounds total
Workout 4: 25 pounds in each hand
*I started this exercise holding one weight at my chest with both hands and progressed to holding weights in each hand at my side.

Push Up
Workout 1: 3 sets of 8
Workout 4: 3 sets of 8
*I can definitely feel my push up form improving!

Plank
Workout 1: 3  sets of 120 seconds
Workout 4: 3 sets of 120 seconds

Cable Horizontal Wood Chop
Workout 1: 17.5 pounds
Workout 4: 22.5 pounds

Stage 4, Workout B (repeated 4 times)

Wide Grip Deadlift from Box
Workout 1: 20 pounds + bar
Workout 4: 25 pounds + bar

Bulgarian Split Squat
Workout 1: 30 pounds plus bar
Workout 4: 40 pounds plus bar

Underhand-grip Lat Pulldown
Workout 1: 90 pounds
Workout 4: 100 pounds

Reverse Lunge from Box with Forward Reach
Workout 1: 10 pounds each hand
Workout 4: 12.5 pounds each hand

Dumbbell Prone Cuban Snatch
Workout 1: 7.5 pounds per arm
Workout 2: 12.5 pounds per arm

Swiss-ball Crunch
Workout 1: 9 reps holding a 15 lb. weight overhead
Workout 4: 12 reps holding a 12.5 lb. weight overhead

Reverse Crunch
Workout 1: 10 reps
Workout 4: 8 reps
*The incline of the bench was increased throughout the workouts making the exercise more difficult.

Lateral Flexion
Workout 1: 10 reps per side
Workout 4: 15 reps per side
During Stage 2 I did this exercise laying directly on the floor, I didn’t feel like I was really using any muscles. For Stages 3 and 4, I used a stability ball and felt like I was doing a lot more. For Stage 4, I also extended my arms overhead.

Prone Cobra
Workout 1: three sets of 120 seconds
Workout 4: three sets of 120 seconds

Overall, Stage 4 dragged on a little bit. The exercises were a combination of repeats from Stages 2 and 3. From the looks of it, Stage 5 will be fairly similar in structure, but things change up a bit with Stage 6. Stay tuned for more!

More NROLFW
Overview
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3

NROLFW: Stage 3

As described in the NROLFW Overview (suggested prior reading), The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women is a 6-month strengthening plan. The plan includes 7 Stages, with two Workouts (A and B) for each Stage.

Summaries of Past Stages
Stage 1
Stage 2

The New Rules of Lifting for Women

Stage 3 – like Stage 2 – is a three week stage. Instead of doing two sets of ten for every exercise though, you do three sets of 6. The goal is to be able to increase weight by decreasing reps. While Stage 2 was leg-heavy, Stage 3 has much more focus on the arms and incorporates a little bit of cross-fit style body weight exercises. Here’s my progress for each exercise:

Stage 3, Workout A (repeated 4 times)

One-armed Dumbbell Snatch
Workout 1: 15 pounds
Workout 4: 25 pounds

Dumbbell Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
Workout 1: 30 lbs in each hand
Workout 4: 35 lbs in each hand

Barbell Bent Over Rows
Workout 1: 15 pounds + bar
Workout 4: 35 pounds + bar

Dumbbell Single-arm Overhead Squat
Workout 1: 10 pounds overhead, 20 pounds in arm in front
Workout 4: 15 pounds overhead, 20 pounds in arm in front
This exercise was a bit unusual. You hold one arm over your head while the other arm is in front of you, slightly raised.

Dumbbell Incline Bench Press
Workout 1: 25 pounds per arm
Workout 4: 35 pounds per arm

Plank
Workout 1: 3  sets of 90 seconds
Workout 4: 3 sets of 90 seconds, feet on a bench and arms on a stability ball

Reverse Wood Chop
Workout 1: 27.5 pounds
Workout 4: 27.5 pounds

Body Weight Matrix
24 squats
12 lunges per leg
12 lunge jumps per leg
24 squat jumps
for time – complete once, rest for approx. twice as long as it took you and repeat
Workout 1: I completed one set in 3 minutes and 28 seconds and the other set in 2.54
Workout 4: I completed one set in 2.45 and the other set in 2.24

Stage 3, Workout B (repeated 4 times)

Barbell Romanian Deadlift/ Bend Over Row
Workout 1: 30 pounds + bar
Workout 4: 35 pounds + bar

Partial Single Leg Squat
Workout 1: 8 pounds per hand
Workout 4: 15 pounds per hand

Wide-grip Lat Pulldown
Workout 1: 90 pounds
Workout 4: 95 pounds

Back Extension
Workout 1: 15 pounds
Workout 4: 30 pounds

YTWL
Workout 1: 5 pounds per arm
Workout 2: 10 pounds per arm
The name of this exercise is weird, but basically it’s a series of shoulder exercises. The name is derived because you make your arms go in the shape of the letters ‘y, t, w, l.’

Swiss-ball Crunch
Workout 1: 10 reps holding a 6 lb. weight overhead
Workout 4: 15 reps holding a 10 lb. weight overhead

Hip Flexion
Workout 1: 10 reps
Workout 4: 12 reps

Lateral Flexion
Workout 1: 12 reps per side
Workout 4: 16 reps per side
During Stage 2 I did this exercise laying directly on the floor, I didn’t feel like I was really using any muscles. For Stage 3, I used a stability ball and felt like I was doing a lot more. 

Prone Cobra
Workout 1: three sets of 90 seconds
Workout 4: three sets of 90 seconds

Overall, Stage 3 went pretty quickly. I’ve decided that prone cobra is by far my least favorite exercise, but that might be because it always feels really difficult. I had to adjust to doing 3 sets of everything instead of only 2, but things stilled moved fast given that I was only doing 6 reps of each move. I enjoyed this stage a lot and am looking forward to Stage 4!

More NROLFW
Overview
Stage 1
Stage 2

NROLFW: Stage 2

As described in the NROLFW Overview (suggested prior reading), The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women is a 6-month strengthening plan. The plan includes 7 Stages, with two Workouts (A and B) for each Stage.

Summaries of Past Stages
Stage 1

The New Rules of Lifting for Women

Stage 2 is a three week stage, and you do two sets of ten for every exercise. Stage 2 is fairly leg-heavy, but there are still arm and ab exercises in each workout. Here’s my progress for each exercise:

Stage 2, Workout A (repeated 4 times)

Front Squat/push press
Workout 1: 10 pounds + bar
Workout 4: 10 pounds + bar
This exercise was really difficult. I didn’t increase weight at all over the 3 weeks. I might have felt comfortable increasing if I had a spotter, but I was worried I would hurt myself if I tried adding more weight on my own!

Step-Ups
Workout 1: 25 lbs in each hand
Workout 4: 30 lbs in each hand

Dumbbell One-Point Rows
Workout 1: 25 pounds
Workout 4: 30 pounds

Static Lunge, rear foot elevated
Workout 1: 25 pounds
Workout 4: 30 pounds

Push-Ups
I worked on trying to get closer to the ground and keep a straighter body.

Plank
Workout 1: two sets of 60 seconds
Workout 4: one set of 90 seconds, one set of 75 seconds

Cable Horizontal Wood Chop
Workout 1: 20 pounds
Workout 4: 22.5 pounds

Stage 2, Workout B (repeated 4 times)

Wide-grip Deadlift from Box
Workout 1: 20 pounds + bar
Workout 4: 25 pounds + bar

Bulgarian Split Squat
Workout 1: 25 pounds
Workout 4: 30 pounds

Underhand-grip Lat Pulldown
Workout 1: 75 pounds
Workout 4: 85 pounds

Reverse Lunge from Box with Forward Reach
Workout 1: 20 pounds in each hand
Workout 4: 25 pounds in each hand

Dumbbell Prone Cuban Snatch
Workout 1: 5 pounds per arm
Workout 2: 7.5 pounds per arm

Swiss-ball Crunch
Workout 1: 12 reps
Workout 4: 23 reps

Reverse Crunch
Workout 1: 10 reps
Workout 4: 12 reps

Lateral Flexion
Workout 1: 10 reps per side
Workout 4: 10 reps per side
I didn’t feel like this exercise went very well. I was basically doing side crunches just laying on the floor. Next time I think I will try to use a stability or bosu ball to make me feel like I am doing more.

Prone Cobra
Workout 1: one set of 60 seconds and one set of 65 seconds
Workout 4: one set of 70 seconds and one set of 75 seconds

Overall, I didn’t enjoy this stage quite as much as Stage 1. I felt like some of the exercises went pretty slowly (especially doing so many lunge variations), but I continued to feel like I was getting stronger. I noticed this in particular with moves that I never do (like prone cobra), which started out extremely difficult and became a little easier by the end of the stage.

More NROLFW
Overview
Stage 1

NROLFW: Stage 1

As described in the NROLFW Overview (suggested prior reading), The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women is a 6-month strengthening plan. The plan includes 7 Stages, with two Workouts (A and B) for each Stage.

The New Rules of Lifting for Women

Stage 1 is the longest stage (6 weeks), and it is intended to give you a foundation to build on for the rest of the program. Stage 1 workouts and my improvements are as follows:

Stage 1, Workout A (repeated 8 times)

Squats
Workout 1: 20 pounds + bar
Workout 8: 60 pounds + bar

Push-Ups
This exercise involved no increases in weight, but I was supposed to work on my form, getting lower to the ground, and keeping my body straighter. I definitely felt as though I improved in these regards.

Seated Rows
Workout 1: 45 pounds
Workout 8: 75 pounds

Step-Ups
Workout 1: 15 pounds in each hand
Workout 8: 25 pounds in each hand

Prone Jackknife
Again, this exercise was about form and not increased weight. I did Workout 1 with 10 reps and finished Workout 8 doing 15 reps with much better form.

Stage 1, Workout B (repeated 8 times)

Deadlift
Workout 1: 15 pounds + bar
Workout 8: 30 pounds + bar

Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Workout 1: 20 pounds
Workout 8: 27.5 pounds

Wide-grip Lat Pulldown
Workout 1: 60 pounds
Workout 8: 85 pounds

Lunge
Workout 1: 20 pounds in each hand
Workout 8: 27.5 pounds in each hand

Swiss-ball Crunch
This exercise did not involve weight but progressively difficult variations. I started Workout 1 doing 15 reps of the easiest variation and ended Workout 8 doing 20 reps of the most difficult one.

Overall, I definitely felt that I became stronger during Stage 1. I also became A LOT more comfortable in the weight room and overcame some self-consciousness when using equipment that I don’t generally see women around (barbells, squat racks, weights over 20 pounds…for example). The 6-week Stage did feel a little long, and I was feeling very ready to move onto Stage 2. Onward and upward!

New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women: Overview

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!

I learned about the New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women (NROLFW) from Meghann over at Meals and Miles.

The New Rules of Lifting for Women

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:

photo(105)

Stage 2, Workout A

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.

photo(104)

you can’t see the details, but here’s the general idea

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)

Nutritional Stance
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!

Stage 1 – completed
Stage 2 – completed
Stage 3 – completed
Stage 4 – completed
Stage 5 – completed
Stage 6 – in progress
Stage 7 – coming up