The end of New Rules of Lifting for Women

It’s crept up surprisingly quickly: Tomorrow is my last day doing New Rules of Lifting For Women. After my initial shock at starting Stage 7, it’s actually turned out to be quite a good stage.

I don’t think I will do the whole programme again, but I will use the parts that worked for me:

  • Interval training
  • More dumbbell exercises
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Stage 6

It’s an okay programme for women getting started with lifting. Some workouts take far too long (Stage 5, I’m talking about you) and the Body Weight Matrix is a killer. I don’t think I got the most out of it as I couldn’t do some exercises due to my neck issues. There is also the fact that the writers no longer believe certain exercises should be performed, like crunches.

So, where to from here? I am not sure. I keep changing my mind. But I am leaning towards Rachel Cosgrove’s Drop 2 Sizes, another programme for women, which is only 3 months long.

Stage 7, Workout 2

The second workout of Stage 7 was okay. I only did 3 of the alternating sets instead of 4, because I was lazy this morning then ran out of time at the gym.

I did get help with the incline bench presses, and the trainer who helped me said to just come to him if I ever needed a spot. Which was nice. I am still very weak on that lift though – I managed 20kg on my own for 6 reps, but 25kg was a bit much ang I was glad for my spotter. My arms were shaking a lot after the workout – eyeliner was a challenge this morning! But it was good, if frustrating (so many reps! So many sets!).

Next workout begins with deadlifts, a former favourite of mine. I’m a bit nervous because I haven’t actually deadlifted normally in about six months. That is one thing that bugs me about this programme. I feel like I am losing something – strength? form? – from changing the exercises so much. I do feel like the negative chin ups in the previous stage were kind of pointless, since they are not in this stage. Won’t I lose my “gains”? But I suppose I am not a trainer.

So, deadlifts next. Let’s see how that goes.

Stage 7 begins

And it was not fun. It was one of the hardest workouts of my life. Unless I’m with a Personal Trainer, I don’t usually push myself so hard I feel like puking. I almost cried at the end of sets. And one day later, my hamstrings are incredibly sore with DOMS.

It was good to have normal squats in there again, and I started at 40kg for 8 reps, then 45kg for another 8. I’d really like to get to 65kg by the end of the stage – my squat progress has been ridiculously slow for various reasons, but I think it’s time to start pushing it again.

Next workout begins with incline bench press, something I’m a little nervous about. I have done the Roll of Shame a few times before, but I still hate it.

I will be asking someone to spot me tomorrow instead. Hopefully no tears tomorrow.

Stage 6 Awards

Eeek… So I’m up to the final two workouts of Stage 6, the ones with AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible). I’m a bit sad about leaving the negative chin-ups behind. I really enjoyed them… Especially since I progressed quite a lot on them!

So, what did I think of Stage 6? I really, really enjoyed it. I did it twice, after all, and I wouldn’t mind doing it a third time… But I am running out of time to achieve other goals that have arisen (ie. fat loss before the wedding!). So I have to move onto Stage 7.

I was sore almost every single day. I felt like I worked hard every gym day. The exercises felt very effective – my abs were sore after doing reverse chins and lat pulldowns. And I was able to increase the weight lifted, although relatively slowly. Another huge bonus was that these workouts were a lot quicker than Stage 5. I only needed 30 minutes to actually do the workout.

Things I didn’t like… It was hard. And that’s not really a bad thing at all! It just means improvement is needed. Another thing was that my fat loss slowed. I have more pics, with fewer subtle changes, which I’ll post sometime in the near future. But this is a strength-based stage after all, so less fat loss should be expected.

So, after all that, here are my Stage 6 Awards.

Most Improved

Two-Point Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

  • 14 August 2013: 14kg / 10 reps for 2 sets
  • 29 August 2013: 18kg / 4 reps for 2 sets

So, remember how I hated Barbell Bent-Over Row because I barely progressed? Yeah, this one is better. WAY better. I use my core to stabilise myself a lot, and progress has actually been made. I’m pretty proud to say I finished on 18kg/4reps! That might not seem like a huge difference… Butupper body strength is hard!

Also, Barbell Split Squat

  • 12 August 2013: 30kg / 10 reps for 1 set
  • 27 August 2013: 45kg / 4 reps for 1 set

In terms of actual numbers, this is the biggest increase! But I don’t feel as much improvement as with the rows. This is a super effective exercise for the butt. And the core. And for keeping your concentration. And your temper as the creepy guy watches you squatting from across the gym while he chest presses.

Least Improved

Dumbbell Push Press

  • 14 August 2013: 8kg / 10 reps for 2 sets
  • 29 August 2013: 10kg / 4 reps for 1 set

Yeah. Like I said, upper body strength is hard.

New Favourite

Negative Chin Up

At the start of the stage, I couldn’t hold myself up. At the end of the second round of the stage, I could slowly lower myself down over the course of eleven seconds. I’m really happy with this! I want to keep going until I can pull myself up, too!

LEast favourite

Push Up

And yeah, I didn’t do them. It strains my neck. Since I cut them out, my neck has stopped being bothersome!

Surprise favourite

Two-Point Single-Arm Row

Because I hated Bent-Over Barbell Rows so much, I was pleasantly surprised to find these were much easier to progress and push myself on. Yay!

What comes next?

I’m going to do the AMRAP workouts, then take a few days off lifting to let my body rest and recover, and start Stage 7 on the Monday after this. And then… Well, you’ll have to wait and see!

Small successes

There hasn’t been a lot of new stuff going on in my training. I did try Reactiv’s protein powder in my soy milk today, and quite liked it. Which is good, because I have a 500g bag of it. Good call on that one Nick!

But what I really came here to write about was a small success in the gym today. I did negative chin ups, which is one of the exercises in NROLFW which is meant to bring you closer to a proper chin up. The following video is an example, but the lady is using an overhand grip, so technically it is a negative pull-up (less bicep-heavy, and generally harder to do).

So I can jump to the top, and I can hold myself there! I have my stopwatch on my phone running to time myself as I slowly control myself downwards… I got to nine seconds. When I started this stage a few weeks ago, I couldn’t hold myself up. Small successes!

The end of Stage 6!

Wow! Even with a week of sickness, that went by quick! Though as previously mentioned, I am going to repeat this stage. I don’t think my efforts were good enough: I’d been doing the lat pulldowns wrong, and completely missed out the negative chinups and pushups, AND I also only learned how to do an incline reverse crunch today… That’s pretty poor. I’ll definitely make a better effort this time around! The exercises I have been doing are really really good, though!

So, what’s been going on in the gym this week?

  • Barbell split squat is now up to 40kg/4reps
  • Dumbbell single-arm rows are up to 16kg/4reps
  • Barbell reverse lunges are at 16kg/4reps also (limited by my arm strength)
  • Stalled on dumbbell push presses (9kg/4reps), due to neck strain
  • Up to 45kg/2reps on lat pulldowns
  • Back extension at 6kg… I really need to bring some weights downstairs for these to be more challenging.

So, more of this on Monday! Bigger, better, and more badass.

After sickness, and rethinking New Rules: Supercharged in September

Back in the gym this morning, and feeling really good about it! After taking almost all of last week off exercising due to sickness, today was pretty encouraging. My much-hated single-arm DB rows went up to 16kg/6reps, and my DB lunges are great on 14kg/6reps – the weight is proving more of a challenge to hold than it is to lunge.

I’m having some second thoughts about doing NROL: Supercharged in September. In fact, I’ve changed my mind. I’m totally allowed to do that. I’m getting married in November, and I don’t think I can commit to a long programme at the same time with consistency. So I’ll hold off on that until December or January. Instead, I’ll focus on losing fat with HIIT and probably bits and pieces from NROLFW to keep me strong and happy.