Well, all the soreness of NRoL4W has dissipated, save for my quad and knee (foam roller, stretch, repeat, hope for the best). Now it’s time to take a look back at the year+ I spent working through the program.
Overall, my experience was that it was a solid and balanced workout program. It packed a full body, compound exercise workout into each session, which meant I could get a lot of lifting done in a reasonable amount of time. However, doing full body workouts meant that I was often using muscles sore from Tuesday again on Thursday. And the book recommends 3x/week; I was only doing 2x!
That leads me to another criticism: I was often sore enough that my other activities suffered. This is probably more on me than the program; I push myself hard and take a while to recover, and the regimen doesn’t really include other exercise. But I felt like I lost aerobic conditioning by not being able to run as much, though I gained tons of strength that helped me easily gain it back when I started training running again in the spring.
And I didn’t just get sore– I genuinely hurt myself a couple times, including something thing called meralgia paresthetica where my thigh went numb for a few weeks. (Actually, looking back I’ve had a lot of problems with this left leg, starting with this…) That’s another concern: illustrations in a book are well and good, but having a pro around to help with form would be super, especially with heavily-loaded exercises. I’m lucky that my gym staff has been helpful in this regard.
I saw genuine improvement in my lifting. Squats started at 85lb and finished at 125lb, and deadlifts started at 95lb and ended at 165lb (and a ton of that improvement came from better grip strength; I could barely keep hold of the loaded bar for 15 reps when I started.) Plus I can do things like pushups on the floor now (I just busted out 10 to prove it to myself!) The progress report tag is full of my breakdowns from each stage! This is the real proof.
The best part of NRoL4W has been gaining the confidence to throw myself at something that I know is going to be really tough– this entire program has been an exercise in getting through psychological hurdles. (Remember the chin-up stage? I finished it. It didn’t work, but I sure as heck got stronger.)
It’s tremendously reassuring to know my own strength! And hey, if I can stick with this intense lifting plan for over a year and finish it, I can probably do other hard things too. So what’s next?