December 28, 2010

Rachel Cosgrove’s "Female Body Breakthrough" may be just the breakthrough I need

First of all, hope everyone had a very merry Christmas! I’m working on a race report from Saturday’s Christmas Marathon/Half. But rather than keep you waiting, here’s what’s new today…

After reading Rachel Cosgrove’s Female Body Breakthrough, I’ve become very intrigued by the “strength more, cardio less” approach to weight loss. Rachel’s reasoning seems pretty sound, and makes sense with my own anecdotal evidence (i.e., I could run a marathon every weekend and my body still wouldn’t look as fantastic as you’d think). Today, I decided to actually give her plan a try, heading down to the gym for my first strength-only workout.

It felt weird at first to bypass the rows of treadmills and ellipticals. Since I’d eventually like to try both P90X and Crossfit, both of which require insane amounts of pullups, I started with something not on the program: assisted pullups and dips. Taking Rachel’s advice, though, I set the resistance to a level where I could only do 5 reps at that particular weight. It felt amazing to put that little assistance on! I’m used to doing around a level 13-15 (which meant I’d only be lifting/dipping about 30-40 pounds of my body weight), but today I was able to do 6-9 (equivalent to lifting/dipping about 80-90 pounds of my body weight). Wow, couldn’t believe I could push myself like that!

From there, I dove into Rachel’s “Base Phase A” workout, which consisted of 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps of Bird Dog, Forward Ball Roll, Stepup, Three-Point Dumbbell Row, Partial Co-contraction Lunge, Incline Pushup, Hip-Thigh Extension, and Bent-Over Reverse Fly. In a very un-Laura-like move, when I got back up to my apartment I decided to start keeping a log of the amount of weight I used for each exercise – I figure it will be a good way to track my progress and look back and see what I’ve gained. The notable points of today:
-Managed to do the stepup (basically stepping up onto a 2 foot high block and extending your back leg behind you) with 10 pounds of weight in each hand. This would have been hard enough with just my body weight; very proud of myself for adding an extra 20 lbs.
-Did the dumbbell rows steadily increasing the weights with each set, until doing the last set with 25 pounds in each hand!!! I don’t think I’ve ever lifted with weights that heavy so far. It helped that there were a bunch of guys in the gym who looked at me funny every time I went for the main free weight rack instead of just using the foofy rubber-coated brightly-colored light dumbbells of 8 pounds or fewer. That’s right, bring on the 25 pounders!
-Finally, I tacked on a few exercises from her “Base Phase B” program, including Overhead Squat, Lateral Raise with External Rotation, and Single-Leg Single-Arm Romanian Deadlifts. I did the deadlifts with 15 pounds in each hand and felt really challenged by the wobbliness of doing them on one leg… but I think I can do more weight in the future.

Has anyone else tried Rachel Cosgrove’s workouts? I am really thrilled with this plan and hoping I will be super sore in the morning!


8 thoughts on “Rachel Cosgrove’s "Female Body Breakthrough" may be just the breakthrough I need”

  1. I’m interested in hearing how it works. I’ve started The New Rules of Lifting For Women, which is basically the same premise – that you get results from strength training and not cardio and you should lift heavier.

  2. Merry Christmas girlie šŸ™‚ I have never heard of Rachel Cosgrove but her theory sure is interesting. And you’re right, all the running/cardio in the world won’t take your body to the next level of fitness. I’m big on Kettlebells now as it is the only form of strength training that doesn’t bore me to death. Keep us updated šŸ™‚

  3. Hi dearie. I bought the book but I haven’t opened it yet, LOL. I guess it won’t help until I do that, though. I think it’s a great idea!

    Angela/Pretty in Orange

  4. Charlotte’s blog did a great job explaining the basics, but I’d definitely recommend picking up a copy. It is REALLY fantastic.

    Lee – Alwyn Cosgrove (the coauthor of New Rules of Lifting for Women) is Rachel’s husband, and a lot of her philosophy comes from his research. I just ordered that one to check out though!

  5. I’ve started the Rachel Cosgrove routine, though illness and holidays keep getting in the way of me actually moving forward ;P So far I like it, though! And she has a very good point. The girls whose bodies I envy are not the ones on the cardio machines – they’re the ones lifting weights šŸ™‚

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