Home > marathon, nutrition, training > The new weight lifting plan for women

The new weight lifting plan for women

The heading is a book title which I recently purchased based on two recommendations from friends. I got the package yesterday and immediately read through the most important parts of the entire book. I like the idea behind the book, and I like the exercises described in the end section, but I disagree with some of the details. The basic premise of the book is that society spreads the false idea that women should lift differently than men, when in reality men and women’s muscles are built the same way, though women’s muscles develop differently through puberty and women tend to have stronger endurance types of muscle fiber naturally. I disagree with a lot of the diet details, and I disagree with the author, Lou Schuler’s opinion of endurance exercise.

In response all the nutrition and diet advice I’ve read, I am trying to format a post about my take on nutrition, because I think I eat healthfully, but it’s a hard topic to condense and cover. What I especially disagree with in this book is the structure of the argument against restrictive dieting and the phrase “Eat less and exercise more” as a plan for weight loss. I agree that extreme restriction of food is a horrible idea for maintaining weight loss and for health, however the author takes the phrase “eat less and exercise more” to signify only diets that restrict food intake too much. I think the sentiment behind this simplified statement for weight loss is that most people eat far more than they need (500 calories average more per day than people ate in 1980 according to Michael Pollan), and in order to be more healthy one must stop over-eating while at the same time become more active. Once you are active, your diet needs may change and you may require more food than when you started your fitness kick, but that doesn’t mean you can over-eat. “Eat less and exercise more” is an easy to remember catch phrase to remind us that our lifestyles currently encourage us to do nothing all day and to eat everything in sight. It means “eat what your body needs and get off your ass”. Take the catch phrase in context please!

My second gripe with the book is the author’s statement that endurance exercise does the opposite to your muscles than what lifting does, and therefore a lifting plan shouldn’t be combined with training for a marathon because endurance training makes your muscles smaller and more efficient while weight training makes your muscles larger and stronger. I obviously am a fan of endurance exercise, and thus do not want to strength train at the expense of doing endurance activities. I agree with my friend Heather’s statement that endurance training only improves performance in endurance events, but that’s exactly why I want to do endurance and muscle-strengthening activities in combination. I don’t want to lose my ability to sprint because I am training to run for hours at a time, and I believe that maintaining and improving my muscle strength will help my endurance performance. Thus, strength training and endurance activities can complement each other. With that said, I do believe that people can be fit without going to the endurance extremes that I do. So maybe the books advice is perfect for you, but just don’t let the guys statement stop you from doing endurance activities.

On the same vein, at one point Lou says that people didn’t evolve to run long distances, they evolved to walk long distances. Please, read “Born to Run”. I think this statement by Lou is one (of many) facts that he didn’t support fully, and he just used it to tell people that lifting and sprinting is the most important form of exercise. Make the decision for yourself, my friend. Know that authors all have their own agendas, and if it doesn’t match with what you are going for in life, that doesn’t mean you are wrong.

With all that said, I do like the exercises detailed in the lifting plan. Lou and Alwyn (the guy who designed the 6 month training plan) use moves that involve the whole body, and following their plan will certainly improve your fitness. My plan is to try their workouts twice a week (3 times if I am REALLY good) and see where that takes me.  What’s most important to me is finding lifting activities besides push-ups that I can use in a long-term plan to compliment my endurance training. I want to be stronger and run further (I want everything!).

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Categories: marathon, nutrition, training
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