The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess is not a book I would normally purchase. Its title, subtitle and back cover information are enough for me to know that Lou Schuler’s vocabulary reflects his attitude – one which offends me as misogynistic.
To be sure, Schuler frames the female exerciser as ‘not male’, reflected for example in his nongendered title understood to be for men (The New Rules of Lifting) and ‘women/not men’ needing the gendered title I am reviewing. At one point he refers to women as testosterone deprived, illuminating his male-as-standard worldview.
So, if I were to judge a book by its cover, why have I bothered to read and review this book?
Repeatedly I see this title popping up in women’s weblogs. These are not references where women have read the book, though I have looked at these as well, but where women who are/have been working hard to live and manage a healthy lifestyle wonder if they should purchase and read the book. These are women who are already in the weight room, largely following an appropriate workout regime, but who seem lured by the promise in the title, as they are intended to be.
The first two chapter of the book are the least informative. Schuler spends most of his writing insulting women, and what he perceives as their approach to fitness. Though Schuler’s title indicates the book is about weight lifting, he spends a lot of time referencing his information as weight loss prescription and this somewhat confused me. None of the previous books I’ve read about lifting, mass building or strength building have been a weight loss narrative coached in weight lifting terms.
Schuler does, thankfully, move into science-based evidence beyond the first couple of chapters. The information he presents regarding weight training versus ‘cardio’ or ‘aerobic’ is accurate, as is the information on nutrition. For a woman without a knowledge base of how to create changes in her body, this book provides some solid information. Never been in a gym before? Not sure how to put together a weight training program? Unsure of how to pair a healthy eating pattern with a workout schedule? The book will be helpful in these regards.
However, if you have been around a gym for a bit, have worked with a trainer, have sought out information on efficient workouts and clean eating, or are a fitness professional who values education and ongoing professional development, his title claim is wholly misleading. There are no ‘new rules’ in this book. There isn’t anything in this information that any reputable personal trainer or group fitness instructor hasn’t known and implemented for years.
It is not often I regret purchasing a book, but this is a solid case of disappointment.
After all is said and done, I am still left with one nagging question: if I can Lift Like A Man to Look Like a Goddess, then when Schuler lifts like a man does he achieve more an Aphrodite than an Atlas look?