Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Rules of Lifting for Women - My Take

There are many reviews of this book all over the web. I will keep this review short, but if you get anything out of this blurb, it would be to buy yourself a copy. With that being said, I'll explain why I regard this book so highly.

First, the authors/experts, Lou Schuler, Cassandra Forsythe, and Alwyn Cosgrove, really know what they are talking about. Their personal and professional backgrounds in the area of training and nutrition coupled with brilliant authorship make it one of the best fitness books around for women.

Page after page, Lou cleverly debunks common myths regarding women and their approach to getting fit and healthy. Among the many "new rules", most of which I will refrain from discussing because I am incapable of coming anywhere close to Lou's ingenious delivery of such intriguing points, are that women should train with heavy weights, focus on high intensity anaerobic exercise with the goal of fat loss, and not restrict calories. Given all the advice *we* have been given over the past few decades, the latter especially strikes many as counterintuitive. Lou suggests otherwise. And I must say, he presents some very legitimate points and proof to support his argument, all of which I will not disclose.

I myself am still training myself psychologically to accept the old adage "less is more" in relation to training. I have fallen victim to overtraining in the past, and I credit that dire mistake with a severe lack of knoweledge. Rather, the knowledge that I *tried* to ascertain was misconstrued by so-called experts in the field. Needless to say, it is refreshing to see that the industry is becoming more and more aware of the long-term effects of overtraining and potential chronic ailments as a result. In sum, "eat less, exercise more" is, according to the aforementioned contributers/authors of NROL4W, outdated and frankly, horrible advice.

I feel compelled to elaborate more about the merits and sheer excellence of this book, but I must stop myself from doing so. I don't want to bore you any longer with a review when you could spend that time driving to your local bookstore to score yourself a copy. In my humble opinion, this book is a must-have for any fitness library, and is without doubt one of the best fitness/nutrition books I have ever read. Highly recommended!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

General Thoughts

For the past two years of my life, I have been studying kinesiology, nutrition, and the latest and greatest techniques for fat loss, hypertrophy, strength, and the many other goals that exist. I use this knowledge to construct rotations and menu plans for myself and my family and peers. (I should add, I got my ACE certification last summer, at the age of 18, and I am pursuing more certs. as we speak). It has turned into a fun hobby for me and a way to further my understanding of the human body and the way it responds to different modalities.

I happen to be one of those unlucky ones (from a weight lifter's standpoint), who is naturally waif-like. Upon first glance, I look quite thin. Am I satisfied with that? Absolutely not. Ideally, I would have 15 extra pounds of muscle mass to sport on my frame along with more curves here and there. At this juncture, I have learned that, due to my genes, I will have to accept a lot of my physiological characteristics. That is not to say that I am going to settle. Muscles, when trained properly, do become bigger and stronger. I have been subject to a lot of bad advice in the past about proper training. Certain magazines (which will not be named) advocate hours and hours of steady state cardio per week to lose fat and "increase metabolism". As a consumer, I listened and complied. I also gained fat and lowed my resting metabolic rate. Yes, you heard me. Essentially, the muscle which my body very much needed (and still needs) was being compromised. I sacrificed muscle for running on the treadmill for an hour and a half, all the while my eyes would be glued to the clock. Yikes.

Furthermore, these magazines blatantly advertise, for example, the "latest and greatest toning workout to look like Jessica Alba." Ooooh, sounds enticing doesn't it? The average woman would continue to peruse the article, the workout, eventually do it, and be horribly saddened by the end of the month to look in the mirror and not have Jessica Alba look back. There are two main reasons why in my book. First and foremost, last time I checked, Jessica Alba had her own, unique genetic code. Second, lifting 3 pounders mindlessly doing half-a**ed workouts will not stimulate muscle fibers enough to grow and yield that "toned" look.

I also adhered to those "strength training" programs offered in the magazines, and saw absolutely zero results and increase in size. Between these two components, I turned into a sickly looking, fat girl in a skinny girl's body. No thanks, I'll pass.

It has been only in the past six months or so that I have listened to the brilliant arguments of Lou Schuler, Alwyn Cosgrove, Dr. Christine Lydon, Cassandra Forsythe, Tosca Reno, Craig Ballantyne, John Berardi, and Tom Venuto. Since following the principles common to these great minds, my body is slowly but surely starting to look healthier, stronger, fitter, and leaner. I have a long way to go, but I finally know that eating quality, nutrient dense foods, heavy weight training, and limiting cardio to a couple of HIIT (high intensity interval training) sessions will get me there.