Tomorrow I will officially complete my last workout of stage one of New Rules of Lifting for Women. I was going to do the last workout today, but I have to take and administer finals all afternoon and I didn’t want to feel rushed by my workout. Instead, I just took the dog for a long walk.
In general, I’m still not sure what I think of the program. I didn’t seem to make much physical progress – I took some before and afters, but other than some slightly increased arm muscle definition, I think I look pretty much the same. The only measurement that changed was my waist, and it just went from bloated from spring break back to normal. My calves possibly slimmed down a little (half an inch, but could be me measuring in a slightly different place), but I’m guessing that is from running, not lifting, as I haven’t really been doing any lifts that work the calves. I think a large reason that I did not make physical changes, though, is that I did not really push myself at first. My workouts did not feel like real workouts until the second half of the stage, when I finally got the courage to go use the real barbells. I think if I were to start over and begin the program where I’m at now, I would certainly make progress.
I also did not enjoy all of the workouts. I hated lunges because they kind of hurt my knee and it was difficult to grip the heavy dumbbells. I hated pretty much every move that involved the dumbbells, in fact – the only thing I didn’t mind was shoulder presses because you hold the dumbbells differently. Every single workout I would DREAD having to do the parts with dumbbells. Plus, they give me really nasty calluses.
There were things I LOVED, however. I loved that once I got over my fear of the weight room, that going in there and doing my workout felt not only like a good workout, but super empowering. I never feel like “yay I showed those men!” after a run, after all. I also REALLY enjoyed seeing progress on my lifts. I still think the only thing holding me back is fear. I thought, for example, that running was holding me back on my squats, which were “stuck” at 65 lbs, but after a short running break, I attempted to squat slightly more, and it went ok. So then, the next time (my last squat workout) I increased all the way up to 80 lbs, even though my legs were worn out from running! I simply had not been pushing myself as hard as I could have been (for some reason I do a lot better at pushing myself with deadlifts). I also loved the swiss ball ab workouts – even though they seemed easy in the beginning, I was able to adjust them to become harder and harder (i.e. putting weight onto ball differently to make balancing more difficult).
My overall assessment, then, is that going forward, I am going to continue to lift. There are numerous health benefits and being stronger will help prevent running injuries. I don’t think I’m going to follow NROL4W exactly, though. I would say that as a beginner, the program is great! It has a lot of great information on how to do specific lifts, what to eat, and what on earth one should be doing in the weight room in terms of a cohesive workout (rather than roaming around randomly). The experience has also given me a lot of courage, and if I wasn’t trying to stick to the program, I may never have walked up to that squat rack. Still, I hate the dumbbell workouts enough that I can see myself skipping them, and I would like to incorporate some more running-specific workouts. Plus, the next stage is something like 8 weeks and I’m going to lose access to a gym mid-June until mid-August, so I wouldn’t have time to complete the stage and I’d feel like a failure. Instead, I’ll probably do my own little thing 2-3 times a week from here on out.