Last week I finished off Stage Two of the New Rules of Lifting for Women program. I've given you a bit of a run down of the overall program before, so I'll really just focus on this stage.
Stage 2 OverviewStage 2 of the program starts to get more specific and focussed. As with Stage 1, there are two workouts for this stage - A and B. There are about seven or eight exercises in each workout, that have a spread of compound exercises (where you work both upper and lower body muscles in the one move), leg, chest, back, arm and core exercises. For each exercise, you complete 2 set of 10 reps of each. Some exercises in the workouts are alternating sets ie. you do step ups, rest, then do dumbbell rows, rest, then repeat.
The ExercisesI really liked the variety of exercises in this stage. I felt like we were still using big muscle groups, and doing a few compound exercises, but we definitely did some things I haven't tried before - like the dumbbell one point row (challenging!).
I particularly enjoyed the core work, where we worked on upper and lower abs, as well as side obliques. I think cable horizontal woodchops have become my new favourite ab exercise! And the prone cobra is tough but really important if you want to keep your back strong.
On the other hand, I was getting pretty tired of step ups by the end (! also did them in Stage 1), and the dumbbell prone cuban snatch was a killer - it made me feel totally weak.
Workout B also included some cardio intervals for the first time. You could do them on any of the cardio equipment - treadmill, bike or elliptical - and you did one minute hard work, with two minutes recovery, and repeated five times. I enjoyed doing this, but it also made Workout B really long - about 75 minutes.
|Front squat push press||17.5kg||20kg|
|step ups||2 x 8kg db||2 x 8kg kb|
|Dumbbell 1 point row||2 x 8kg db||2 x 8kg db|
|Static lunge, rear foot elevated||2 x 12kg kb||2 x 12kg kb|
|Cable horizontal woodchop||8.75kg||11.25kg|
|Wide Grip Deadlift from box||40kg||40kg|
|Bulgarian split squat||2 x 14kg db||2 x 14kg db|
|Underhand lat pulldown||33lb||42.5lb|
|Reverse lunge from box with forward reach||5kg plate||9kg db|
|Dumbbell prone cuban snatch||2 x 5kg db||2 x 6kg db|
|Swiss ball crunch||5kg plate||10kg plate|
|Intervals - 1min work, 2 min recovery x 5||-||-|
Note: db = dumbbell kb = kettlebell
ThoughtsI enjoyed the exercises, but I found it really quite difficult to increase the weights. It was because of a combination between the increments in the weights I had access to at the gym (for example, I really liked using the kettlebells, but they only increase in 4kg increments), and that I felt that 10 reps was actually quite a lot in a set to get through at a higher weight. I made some progress in some areas, but not as much as I'd like.
I am also still struggling with lifting heavy weights for my legs. My wrists and arms just can't handle big weights for deadlifts. I'm thinking about investing in some straps. I'd be happy to hear your suggestions!
As much as I liked doing the intervals at the end of Workout B, I had a couple of problems with it. Firstly, my knee is still getting stronger, and so the first time I did the intervals it actually was hurting a little, so I stopped. Secondly, it just made the workout really long to do an extra 15 minutes. I know that doesn't sound like much, but my mornings are pretty closely scheduled and it made me feel like I was running late. So I actually did the intervals the day after as part of my running session instead. That's what worked better for me.
In the end, I'm feeling stronger and more toned. I enjoyed Stage 2, and I'm eager to move on to Stage 3! I feel like I'm really getting into this strength training thing, and I want to see how far I can go. It's becoming almost as important as my running. Almost, but not quite :)
What is your favourite strength training exercise? And your least favourite? Will straps help me lift heavier? I'd love to hear your suggestions!