I have successfully completed Phase 1 of 7 from the New Rules of Lifting for Women, and as promised, here are my thoughts on the program thus far.
Looking at the workout regimen, you’d think doing squats, dead lifts lunges, step-ups, push-ups, crunches, lat pull-downs and cable rows for 8 weeks would be easy. It would be, if you used the same variation and weights every single week.
The goal of this program is to increase your weights/resistance each workout, or increase your reps if the weight increase is too high on a certain machine to attain in one week.
By the end of the 8 weeks, I could do each exercise at a higher weight or higher repetition (or both, in some cases) and I can definitely see more muscle definition in my arms, shoulders, back and legs. I can feel my core getting stronger as well.
I must admit, phase 1 of the program is not very exciting. Once you’ve done it for two weeks, the exercises become mundane and it’s hard to find motivation to go to the gym to do the exact same workouts over and over again two times a week, for eight weeks.
The excitement comes from being able to use a heavier dumbbell, crunching out an extra few reps or finally being able to increase resistance on the cable machines – but I think some people would lose interest in this very quickly if they weren’t already fitness fanatics.
Looking back through the book, I noticed I completed stage 1 slightly incorrectly. Every week I continuously did 2 sets of 15 reps (even when I increased weights), when I was actually supposed to increase sets but decrease reps by the last two weeks of workouts.
Meaning, week 7 and 8 I should have done 3 sets of 8 reps for each exercise for 24 total repetitions, meanwhile I was completing 2 sets of (at least) 15 reps for 30 total repetitions. It could explain while the last few weeks I struggled with the weights and felt like I was hitting a plateau.
When I started this program, I was underweight, for where I wanted to be, because I’d lost muscle during my concussion recovery.
Here are my updated stats as of December 10, 2012:
Weight: 127.5 pounds (gained 2.7 pounds)
Chest: 34 inches (Gained 1 inch, definitely no complaints there!)
Waist: 26 inches (Gained 0.3 inches)
Hips: 37 inches (Gained 1 inch)
One thigh: 21 inches (Gained 0.4 inches)
One arm: 10 inches (Gained 0.2 inches)
While I gained a few pounds and gained some inches back in some areas, I am still happy with my progress so far. I always seem to ‘bulk up’ a bit when I start a new lifting program, hence getting thicker in the thighs and waist. I also think part of that is muscle growth.
Knowing I have more cardiovascular endurance, and more overall body strength, I am not disappointed by the weight or size gain. I am still wearing the same size pants (which are actually a bit too big).
The end of Phase 1 saw me in a weekend hockey tournament, playing four hockey games in less than 40 hours. Add in the swimming I did in the hotel pool between games and you bet I was feeling delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) for a few days.
The last two hockey tournaments I had been in prior to this one, I threw my lower lumbar out and felt my chronic knee pain. This tournament, I had neither issue sneak up on me, which leads me to believe the muscle I gained and/or strengthened protected my body from injury.
I decided to take a week of recovery at the end of Phase 1 before beginning Phase 2, staying away from lifting weights, but still going to the gym to do cardiovascular activities and body weight exercises.
Before I started this program, and after a few months of inactivity due to my concussion, it took me 17 minutes to run 1.5 miles. By the end of Phase 1, I can now run 1.5 miles in 13 minutes and 45 seconds. My next goal is to be able to run 1.5 miles in less than 12 minute.
One of my goals for the New Year is to run a 5 km race for a charity – on Thursday I managed to run just over 5 km in 40 minutes so my new goal is to work on shortening that time.
Phase 2 begins on tonight.
**Update 09.05.2013** Half way through phase 3 of the program I sustained whiplash, torn muscles in my shoulders/back/lats and minor back pain after being in a motor vehicle accident – I was hit from behind. The accident happened on March 18 and I am only just getting back into the gym on May 7 to start “muscle setting”. I am allowed to do the motion of the workouts, using the cables, but I am not allowed to use weight just yet. Talk about putting a damper on my progress since the concussion in June. I will have to re start the New Rules of Lifting for Women once I am 100% cleared for lifting again.