NROLFW – Stage One Recap
This past Wednesday, I finally completed stage one of the New Rules of Lifting for Women program! It took me about eight weeks, a week or so longer than the book suggests (only because I spent a week visiting Nick in NC for my spring break and had no access to the heavy weights that I needed). I move on to stage two this week, but before I start the new stage, I thought I’d take a minute to recap my thoughts on stage one, and a glimpse into my results.
- Stage one is longer than any other stage in the program (16 workouts as compared to the 8 in stage two, for instance). For that reason, a lot of the reviews of the program suggested that stage one is tedious and boring. I actually didn’t feel this way at all. I appreciated the time that it gave me to get comfortable with the exercises and to see steady growth over the course of the eight weeks. If there had to be a stage that was longer than the others, I think stage one was the best choice. It gets you acclimated to the program and comfortable with the weights and your own strengths and weaknesses.
- That being said, I am definitely ready to move on to stage two! I’m a little nervous because some of the exercises are unfamiliar to me, but if I learned anything from stage one it was to be confident in my abilities and to take it slow and steady until I’m comfortable with the movements.
- Ok, I revise that. If there’s anything I learned from stage one, it’s that I definitely underestimated my own strength and abilities in the weight room for the last, um, eight years or so that I’ve been “lifting” (and yes, I use that term lightly). Once I started challenging myself (which the program insists you do—it’s the entire point!), I realized I was stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.
- The best example of this was the optional “special workout” that came at the end of stage one, in which you complete as many reps as possible (AMRAP) of each exercise, using the amount of weight you used in your very first workout. Where I used to max out at, say, 20 reps of squats, I realized during the special workout that I am capable of doing at least 40-45. Yes, I gained strength as the program went on (more on that in a second), but my endurance seems to have increased as well.
- I definitely gained strength, without question. I’ve been able to steadily and comfortably increase my weight almost across the board, and I’m seeing physical results as well. My biceps are more defined, and my legs and butt look completely different than they did eight weeks ago. My measurements have stayed relatively steady (minus a one inch loss from my waist, half inch loss from my bust, and half inch loss from my thighs), and I’ve lost nearly three pounds (which I’m also attributing to extra movement–like walks after dinner–and cleaner eating, in addition to the program).
- I haven’t completely given up cardio, but I have tried to switch over to more of an interval-based approach (which the book recommends). At this point, I’m generally only completing one or two steady-state cardio session each week (and never on days when I lift). All other cardio workouts are intervals, which are definitely harder—but over faster!
- One of my major concerns was that lifting workouts wouldn’t be enough of a workout for me. Um. WRONG. So, so wrong. By the end of the stage, my lifting workouts were taking about 30 minutes, and I was a sweaty, exhausted mess afterwards. Fitting in intervals was sometimes really difficult, and the most I could get myself to do was walk on an incline. That was a great wake up call for me: lifting can be an incredibly effective workout—if you actually CHALLENGE YOURSELF. Duh.
- I’m still trying to fit in more protein, but it seems like I can never get in enough! I don’t like to rely on powders, but I definitely try to fit in some whey protein on lifting days. Otherwise I’m relying on Greek yogurt, chicken, tuna, turkey, eggs, etc. I try to eat a serving of protein at every meal, and even in most snacks. I’m taking the whole “protein after lifting” thing very seriously, and I do think that it makes a huge difference.
So that’s where I stand right now: about eight weeks in, seeing results, and feeling confident–albeit a little intimidated about the new stage of the program. I’m excited to see where I’ll be in another month or so!