New Rules of Lifting for Women: Stage 1 Complete!

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UPDATE 2/2/2016: I’ve learned a LOT about postpartum fitness since I wrote this, and I no longer endorse this program as something to do after you’ve had a baby. Please, please make an appointment with a pelvic health physiotherapist after you have a baby and DEFINITELY before you begin any weightlifting program. Check out this post on my other site for more information why.

At the end of September I filled you in on the weightlifting program I started, and now I’m back to give you an update on how it’s going at the end of the first stage.

Quick recap: Stage 1 has two workouts, A and B, that each have five different exercises. You complete each workout eight times, plus two bonus workouts where you do as many reps as possible (AMRAP) of each exercise to really see how much you’ve improved since the beginning. I started on September 3rd and finished on November 5. This was longer than anticipated, but I took a week off when I tweaked my back and almost two weeks when we all got sick.

Here are my results:

Body Composition Changes

I track weight, measurements, and progress photos using the Progress app. I think it was a buck or two for the full version; the free version doesn’t allow you to add photos. I didn’t really think about the best way to take my photos when I started and even though they’re great for ME to see my progress, I do draw the line at sharing photos of myself in a sports bra and underoos on the blog. So you’ll just have to believe me when I say that yes, I do see physical changes in the photos.

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Muscles? Yes?

The scale is not the best way to measure progress, particularly with weightlifting, but in the interest of full disclosure I did lose six pounds during these two months. I was semi-mindful with my diet but didn’t follow the eating plan outlined in the book, or deny myself dessert. Like ever. The scale can be tricksy, though, so even though I’m keeping an eye on it I’m not using it as my primary indicator of progress.

You know what doesn’t lie?


I was FLOORED to see that I’d lost a total of 8.5″ during this stage. My arms stayed basically the same (even though when I flex they’re way more muscle-y), but lost 1-1.5″ from everywhere else I was tracking (in case you’re curious I track bust, chest right under bust, waist, hips, thighs, and biceps).

But the thing that made me most excited was that I fit back into the jeans I bought a week before I found out I was pregnant with Olivia.

Strength Gains

Workout A


I started with an empty barbell — ours weighs 30 lbs — and finished with 70 lbs.


Regular push-ups (plank position) were too tough for me to complete a full set when I started, so I put my hands on the second step of our staircase and did my push-ups there. The book does not recommend push-ups on your knees as a progression to full push-ups, because you’re not using the full range of motion. At the end of Stage 1 I was doing normal push-ups on the floor and didn’t have to put myself on an incline. For the final workout I did 24 pushups whaaaaaaat.

Barbell Bent-Over Row

Started with an empty 30-lb barbell, finished with 65 lbs.


My step was about 12″ off the ground, and I used 20 lbs (one 10-lb dumbbell in each hand) to start. I got up to 50 lbs (holding onto two 25-lb plates) and couldn’t increase the weight anymore because my hands aren’t big enough to hold more than one plate. At 50 lbs it also turns into a grip exercise, because holy hell is it hard to hold onto the plate while you finish all your reps.

Stability Ball Jackknife

The book recommends starting with 8, but I misread the instructions and started with 15. That was challenging but doable, so I kept it at 15 for all of Stage 1 and just increased the number of sets from two to three. This one is KILLER and I love/hate it. For the final workout I did 31 in one minute and almost threw up afterwards. Yeah, I felt the burn.

Workout B


Starting weight of 50 lbs, ended at 95 lbs. In the middle of the stage I got up to 100 lbs, but then backed off a bit after I got sick. Even so…man oh man am I proud of this one. RAWR.

Shoulder Press

Started with an empty bar at 30 lbs, finished at 45 lbs. I really had a hard time adding more weight to this one. Lifting weights over my head makes me nervous; I always feel like I’m going to fall over. A personal trainer friend recommended staggering my feet a little bit and that definitely helped with feeling more stable.


I kind of hate this one. You’re supposed to use a cable machine but huh, our spare bedroom is fresh out  of those, so the book says to substitute pullovers instead. Started with two 5-lb dumbbells (so, 10 lbs for those of you who are impaired at workout math like I am) and finished with a 25-lb plate. This exercise continues into the next stage and I might have to get creative with my weights to make it harder.


Ugh, if I never have to do another lunge again it’ll be too soon. Not that they were excruciatingly difficult, just BORING. Especially in the beginning when you’re doing fifteen lunges on each leg per set. LUNGES FOR DAYS. Anyway. Started at 20 lbs, finished at 50 lbs.


The book actually calls for stability ball crunches but the author currently recommends doing planks instead. I started with one minute and worked my way up to a minute and a half.

How about those chin-ups?

Didn’t happen. I fell off the daily chin-up wagon hard and didn’t do any for like a month, but now I’m back to working on them. My new goal is to be able to do at least one unassisted chin-up by the end of the year.

In Conclusion

I feel awesome. I was conservative for the first few workouts with the weights since I was only 7 weeks postpartum and wanted to stay well within my comfort zone, but I’m really proud of where I ended up. The workouts weren’t always fun and I really slogged through some of them, but I’m so glad I did.

Lost weight. Lost inches. Gained strength. Beast mode activated.

Can’t wait to start Stage 2 this week, because this is the part of the program where we get to add cardio intervals. I legit enjoy running suicides so I’m reeeaaaaally excited about this.

(Yes I was *actually* dropped on my head as a baby, my parents will vouch for this, that probably explains a lot.)

If you have ANY questions at all about the program or weightlifting in general, let me know! I’m not an expert but I’m happy to point you towards more resources that were helpful for me. If you missed my original post, check that out and scroll down to the bottom for my recommendations about what you need to get started.

2 Responses to New Rules of Lifting for Women: Stage 1 Complete!

  1. Stacy September 10, 2016 at 7:43 pm #

    In stage 1, each exercise has workouts 1,2 workouts 3,4 workouts 5,6 workouts 7,8… these = weeks 1-8?


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