The New Rules of Lifting by Lou SchulerThe New Rules of Lifting is a recently published book from Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove. The New Rules of Lifting‘s basic premise is that it is not which muscles you work out at the gym that makes a real difference in your body, but how you move those muscles. The New Rules of Lifting are based upon using muscles in tandem and in very natural ways, rather than isolating your muscles and working your muscles in a way that your body will never need outside of a gym. The authors recommend six basic movements with which to base your workouts. From the back cover:

The New Rules of Lifting, with more than one hundred photographs, gives you more than a year’s worth of workouts based on these six basic movements. Whether you’re aa beginner, an experienced lifter looking for new challenges, or anything in between, you can mix and match the workouts to help you get bigger, stronger, and leaner. In addition, the comprehensive nutritional informatoin provided makes The New Rules of Lifting a complete guide to reaching all your goals.

The six basic movements that they base The New Rules of Lifting on are:

  • The Squat
  • The Deadlift
  • The Lunge
  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Twisting

The book is divided into six sections, but it can easily be broken into three basic parts.

The first part of the book contains the “Facts” and “Techniques” sections, which give a very broad overview of weight lifting in general and The New Rules of Lifting specifically. There are 20 New Rules of Lifting, and the first 19 of them appear in these two sections. The six basic movements are introduced and briefly explained, and there is a specific warm-up plan that prepares the body for those six movements. I do not particularly agree with how they feel on the importance of flexibility, but my main athletic pursuits are on the road and not in a gym. I feel that better flexibility is important for preventing injury, and especially as a runner it can give me a competitive edge.

The second part of the book contains the “Exercises” and “Programs”. The “Exercises” section is broken into each of the six movements, where a detailed description of the movement is given. The muscles that are used to complete the movement and the necessary technique to safely complete the movement are provided for each, as well as describing the functional importance of that movement outside of the gym. There are a few different exercises shown for each movement with variations and descriptions. Most of the exercises are illustrated with black and white photos.

One of the things that bothered me about the “Exercises” section was that each exercise lists which programs that it is used in. That is a good thing, but there has been nothing but passing references to those programs up to that part of the book so the reader is left with no idea what those programs are about. Granted, the names are not particularly complicated (Break-In, Fat Loss, Hypertrophy, and Strength levels I through III), but the first page to the “Programs” section should have been included before the “Exercises”, followed by all of the exercises and then followed by the programs that make up The New Rules of Lifting.

The programs themselves are fairly straightforward, and I do plan on playing with them a bit in the near future. I probably won’t try following them for any length of time until after my next marathon, but I will at least try the different workouts to see how they are. There are also a few combo moves that I have never done before and that I am looking forward to trying.

The third part of the book contains the nutrional information. Explaining how carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are processed by the body was fairly straightforward and basic. There is a good description of how the metabolism works and it agrees with my own theories on how too much of a calorie deficit is counterproductive. However, the actual food lists were not particularly useful. Throughout most of the book, humor is used sparingly but well. The humor in the “Clean Eating” chapter makes the food lists next to worthless. You can go off of the “A” list of things you should definately be incorporating into your diet, but past that the author even tells you he doesn’t agree with what he is writing. Mention of his own favorite foods would have been fine as an example that deviation is all right, but I do not want to have to read an entire description to find out that something is ranked higher than it is supposed to be. I also completely disagree with the statement that caffeine is harmless.

In a small way, I agree with Chris’s conclusions about the book; it’s a great primer for beginners that will get them set off in the right direction. It is much better than a few of the others that I have read. I also think that most experienced lifters should either give The New Rules of Lifting a pass or should just skim it at the library. However, I think that even some experienced lifters might get out of a funk with the programs in this book if they have hit a particularly bad plateau. I also think that this book would be well received by intermediate lifters such as college athletes, who may know a few programs to help them with their sports but who have not spend a lot of time developing their own programs.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The New Rules of Lifting from the publisher to review on this site. My thoughts on the book are my own and do not reflect those of the author or publisher. I was not paid for this review in any way other than receiving a copy of it.