Duffy Pratt's Reviews > The New Rules of Lifting: Six Basic Moves for Maximum Muscle

The New Rules of Lifting by Lou Schuler
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Nov 28, 2011

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Read in November, 2011

I first did weightlifting back when Nautilus routines were all the rage. The idea then was that one circuit of the machines, doing 8-12 reps on each machine, was all you needed. Also, the thinking then was that isolating the muscle you worked was most efficient. The only problem with these ideas is that they were probably all false.

This book makes a pretty good case against "doing the machines." In it's stead, it promotes six basic functional movements as the basis for an exercise program: squats, deadlifts, lunges, pushes, pulls and twists. It sounds pretty simple, but it turns out that there are complicating factors. (For example, a push overhead is very different than a push to the front (push-up) or a push down (dip). Completely gone is the idea of doing a single set, but there's no explanation why multiple sets are superior. As I recall, the best research still shows that there's limited benefit to doing multiple sets of strength exercises (other than the safety of going to exhaustion at lower weight).

There are two aspects of this book that make me skeptical. First, the writer has a clear bias that size itself is a good thing, and he seems to assume that his readers will share this bias. He makes clear that one of his new rules is that the amount of weight you lift is just a tool to get to your goals. But he never seems to consider the possibility that someone might have other goals than achieving maximum size or maximum strength. Neither of those things are my goals at all. I want to increase certain movement skills, and to slow down the aging process. If that means gaining size or strength, that would be fine with me, but I don't count either the size or the strength as an end in itself.

My other main problem with the book is the repeated disdain the author shows for yoga. He makes it clear that he dislikes yoga, and that he wants nothing to do with it. But he tends to bash it without understanding it at all. And it's that lack of understanding that makes me wonder about the quality of the programs that he suggests. I'm pretty sure that for people who truly enjoy lifting, this book is a great source of information and advice. But the focus is a bit myopic, and I'm not sure whether its for me.

That said, his arguments against the machines are very convincing. And the arguments for doing compound exercises to increase strength are just as convincing. I can buy into those, but I'm not sold on the overall program.
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