New Rules of Lifting for Abs Stage 2 Review

Happy Friday!! Party smile

As some of you know, in lieu of creating my own lifting workouts for a while, I’ve been following New Rules of Lifting for Abs, the newest book in the New Rules of Lifting books (New Rules of Lifting and New Rules of Lifting for Women are the others.)


New Rules of Lifting for Abs is different in that it includes their latest research on lifting. Despite what the title suggests, the New Rules of Lifting for Abs program actually includes very few direct core exercises. In fact, I’ve never done a single crunch in the program. Instead, it involves exercises that truly engage the core, like offloaded front squats, plank + rows, and one legged-deadlift standing on a plate.

I’ve finally gotten around to writing my review for stage 2, which includes a summary of my thoughts, the format of the workout, the workout broken down, pros and cons, as well as my before and after pictures. See my New Rules of Lifting for Abs Stage 1 review here.

New Rules of Lifting Stage 2

I was very excited to begin stage 2. The fitness message boards I frequent warned it kicks some serious booty, and I was ready to bring it. After completing my first workout of stage 2, I felt like I literally kicked my own butt. Throughout the entire workout I was huffing, puffing, panting, and even grunting! My heart rate stayed sky high the entire duration and my muscles were shaking when finished. In fact, I quickly learned that there was no way to complete both a 45 minute spin class before and this workout after in the same day, like I did in Stage 1.

Stage 2 Stats

Length:  ~60-70 minutes minutes
Difficulty: 9/10
Format: warm up>core>heavy lifting>strength>metabolic; see below

  • Dynamic warm up ~5-10 minutes
  • Core workout ~10 minutes
  • Heavy lifting exercise ~10 minutes
  • Strength Workout ~25 minutes
  • Metabolic Workout ~10 minutes

Core workout


The NROLA stage 2 core workouts were even less “abs-centered” than stage 1. A typical core workout in stage 2 involves 3 exercises. My favorites were:

  • plank w/ cable pulldown
  • side plank w/ cable row
  • stability ball mountain climbers

The program has you do 10-12 reps (each side) for each of these exercises, one time through only.

Heavy Strength


After the core workout, the program has you incorporate one heavy barbell lifting exercise per workout. It rotates a different exercise for each workout out of the following: front barbell squat, pull ups, deadlifts, and  overhead press* For this exercise it’s go heavy or go home. It has you completing 5 sets of various reps (never going higher than 8) and various weights.

Now you’re ready to start the actual workout. Haha…

Strength Workout

The strength portion of the workout was included 4 exercises, split into two super sets. Sample exercises consisted of off loaded front squats,  1-handed push presses, dumbbell step ups, single-arm rows etc. These exercises used your full body (no upper body one day, lower body the next splits.)

Although there’s a separate section for “heavy lifting” in the workout, the direction is to go heavy for these exercises, too. With 4 sets of 8 reps for each exercises, Stage 2 has you lifting heavier weights than Stage 1.

Metabolic Work

Now that you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck, it’s time to do some BURPEES!! Open-mouthed smileOpen-mouthed smile In the metabolic portion of the workout, you will  do one of two exercises: burpees or kettlebell swings. Workout A corresponds with burpees while workout B, with KB swings.

The metabolic workout: Set the timer for 10 minutes. At the first 30 seconds of each minute, do as many burpees/kettlebell swings as possible. Take the next 30 seconds as rest. Each week, increase the time by 2 minutes (I never increased the time – but I also got cardio in through running and spinning throughout the week.)

Break it Down


  • It legitimately CHALLENGED me – like I said, I was drenched in sweat by the end of the workout. I’ve never done a workout like these before.
  • Included both strength and cardio – as I previously mentioned, my heart rate was high throughout the entire workout, not just the metabolic part.
  • It’s fun – with exercises I’ve never even heard of before, it was fun to add some new exercises to my routine
  • Has a flexible format – Alwyn knows it’s a long workout with all the components and designed the program with the metabolic portion as optional. Additionally, every exercise has a few difference variations in case you aren’t able to do it or don’t have the necessary equipment.


  • It would be very hard to do in a crowded gym – the workout requires various equipment in various sections of the gym. Some of the exercises might also draw some stares from other gym-goers. I was lucky in the fact that a) I work in a gym and can go during non peak hours, and b) don’t really bother with people staring. In fact, when I was doing the plank + pull down, I had one girl staring at me with her mouth hanging open. When she caught me looking back, she said, “that. Is. AWESOME!” haha
  • By the 4th or 5th week, it gets to be pretty tedious – the newness of the exercises wore off after the 5th of 6th time completing them, while the difficulty level stuck around until the very end 😉 However, soon after, it was time for stage 3 anyway :)

Before and After Photos

I actually gave  a lot of thought to this section of the review, and I decided to post the before and after photos on a separate page for a couple different reasons:

1) My goal right now is actually to just maintain. I’m not looking to build lots of muscle right now – just keep what I have. If I happen to add on to it, I’m not complaining. Because of this, the difference in the photos is only slight. I think I may have an overall “leaner look” in the “After” photos, but you can’t tell too much.

2) Comparison. I know women – especially those with a disordered eating/exercising past – tend to compare themselves to other women a LOT. So, I wanted to give those who think these pictures will trigger you or make you sad the chance NOT to view the photos. Obviously no one’s body is perfect!

That said, you can view the before and after photos here.

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  1. Awesome that you posted those photos on a separate page (I looked!)!

    Is it strange to report that I feel like crunches work for me? I mean, sure, they only work parts of my abs, but I *think* they do work for me, and I don’t even do that many. Or maybe you are right, and other exercises that I do that engage my core are responsible.

    Either way, once in a while I like to work on my abs, it’s kind of an off-and-on thing. But all that equipment would make it tough for me!

  2. That does seem like a good but tough workout! I am just adding more weight lifting back into my routine and right now do random weight workouts. I am not sure I like this since I do not know if I am really doing the right exercises and if I am missing any muscles. I should probably start looking at a plan!

  3. You look great- check out those triceps! Have you noticed a difference in how your clothes fit? When I did insanity I noticed a huge change in my abs, vs just doing ab workouts. All that jumping really made for a ripped stomach. On the flip side, all those pushups made my arms soo bulky lol

  4. Definitely harder to do in a crowded gym. I used these excerises outdoors sometimes with my bootcamp, plus TRX really helps! Loved your review.

  5. This is great! Thanks for sharing!

  6. I seriously need to do some ab work. Like, massive ab work. I’ve neglected my midsection for far too long. Thanks for reminding me. 😉 I’ve heard great things about that book – going to have to add it to my Amazon shopping basket!

  7. Way to get through Stage 2! You’re looking awesome!


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