by Lou Schuler and various
Paperback ISBN 9781583333396
Penguin Group - Avery
Let's get one important fact out of the way before I start this review. This book is written by a man. Lou Schuler wrote The New Rules of Lifting and The Testosterone Advantage Plan, both of which are books specifically for men. Schuler has also written extensively for Men's Health. However, this does not make Schuler's experience and expertise any less valuable. He also addresses this gender issue at the very beginning. He wrote The New Rules of Lifting for Women for two reasons: 1) he got a lot of requests from women to write it and 2) the way a women builds muscle is much different than how a man does. Schuler addresses the latter very extensively in the beginning of the book.
This book provides a whole different way of looking at weight loss and exercise. First of all, the whole "eat less, exercise more" idea is flipped on it's head. If you eat less, then your body has less fuel for exercise. And not only will you burn fat but you'll also lose muscle mass. For those of us who appreciate what muscles do for us (they burn fat on their own!), the idea of losing muscle mass is quite scary. Also, Schuler makes several interesting points about how too much cardio leads to muscle loss. He emphasizes more high-intensity cardio done for less amount of time. So those 1 hour runs you've been doing are not necessary. Schuler's focus here is primarily muscle gain and fat loss and NOT weight loss.
There are technically three authors listed but I found that the whole book seemed to be in Schuler's voice. Alwyn Cosgrove (a man) provides the exercises and Cassandra Forsythe, M.S. (a woman) provides the recipes and meal plans. Otherwise, it's all Schuler.
I have a very conflicted history with exercise. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s I had terrible gym teachers who never taught me anything valuable about exercise. I was weaker than your average student. I couldn't do sit-ups, pull-ups or even run a mile (when they forced me to run a mile cold I would cough up blood because I pushed myself to run too hard). I was never taught to train to do those things or to even warm up. I was treated as part of a group rather than as an individual. Even though I had weak arms, abs, ankles and lungs, I was a very active child. I did all sorts of dancing (tap, jazz, modern, hip-hop, even gymnastics and ballet!), roller skated, rode my bike, played outside and loved sports. I hated gym class because I was always forced to do more than my body could handle. As an adult, this previous experience with terrible gym teachers has scarred me. I could never trust a personal trainer. Also I could never join any sort of exercise class because of the humiliation those gym teachers put me through in front of the other students. I'm all about exercising alone, listening to my body, and pushing myself on my own terms (and not to what others think I should be able to do).
So reading this book was a bit of a trial. I have heard so many conflicting information about weight loss and exercise I don't know who to trust any more. Should I trust this author? He seems to know what he's talking about. I like the exercises shown and have already started to do some of them. And I very much want to be a physically strong woman. Schuler spends a lot of time talking his ideas through which is very good. However, you don't get to the meal plans or the exercises until half way through the book. So expect a lot of talking!
Schuler's tone is very assuring yet stern. He tells you like it is but is also very encouraging. He's pretty much what you would want out of a personal trainer.
I would recommend this book to any woman who wants to be physically stronger and is sick of the hamster wheel that is endless cardio. If you like to work out alone, this is a good book. You'll have some guidance but it's up to you to put the advice and the exercises into practice.