Welcome to Straight to the Bar

Scott Bird. Artwork by Vince Palko.
Yes, I love the deadlift.
If you’ve just joined us, welcome. Here you’ll find everything that grunts, groans and ticks in the world of strength training. In short, this site is the home of all things strength.


Incidentally, this site’s been helping people become fitter, healthier and stronger since January 2004. If you’ve just joined us, I highly recommend subscribing to the weekly Strength & Fitness Newsletter, which contains details of new posts on the site, freshly-minted video demonstrations & tutorials, details of upcoming Gymchats and a whole lot more.

And yes, it’s absolutely free.



The Pendulum Swing


Which aspect do you focus on?

NB : We first looked at this one in the weekly Strength & Fitness Newsletter (part of the Strength Kit). If you'd like to have it sent to you automatically (free!) each week, just add your email here.


Gymchat 279 - The Power & Importance of SLEEP (Adam Farrah)

How'd you sleep last night?


What's your sleep like currently? More to the point, what should it be like? This week we're taking a close look at this wonderful area, whether your goal is muscular recovery, a mental reset or simply to perform better throughout the day. Joining us is Kettlebell and CrossFit Coach Adam Farrah, and Personal Trainer (and Strength Athlete) Josh Hewett. Fantastic.
NB : We'd love to hear your questions and comments. If there's a particular subject you'd like Adam and Josh to address, just swing by the event page for this Gymchat and leave a comment or jump in the Hangout and ask it directly. And if you'd like to point your friends/colleagues to the discussion, just use the 'share' button at the top of that page. The more the merrier.

Details -

Who : Kettlebell and CrossFit Coach Adam Farrah, and Personal Trainer (and Strength Athlete) Josh Hewett, and You Topic : The Power & Importance of SLEEP When : Monday Mar 30, 8:00pm EDT (the Event page shows what time that is in your local timezone). How : Watch the live stream, join the hangout (just add Top Form Fitness to one of your circles, and Josh'll send out the URL when the Hangout starts), or jump in the Q&A on the Event page itself. We'll also post the full video shortly after the Gymchat. Previously : We've been fortunate enough to have Adam on previous episodes of the show. Check out Gymchat 221 - The Paleo Approach to Nutrition, and Gymchat 255 - The Pillars of Paleo. And of course, you can watch any of the previous Gymchats whenever you like - there's a full list here.

Looking At : Mar 22, 2015

What we were talking about this week on Google+, Twitter and the Daily 'Paper'



During the past week we've discussed a number of great links; on Google+, Twitter, Facebook and so on. Here are a few of my favourites.

BioLayne's Arnold Classic Summary


A close look at Layne's training for and competition at the Arnold. Nice one.

NB : We first looked at this one in the weekly Strength & Fitness Newsletter (part of the Strength Kit). If you'd like to have it sent to you automatically (free!) each week, just add your email here.


Looking At : Mar 15, 2015

What we were talking about this week on Google+, Twitter and the Daily 'Paper'



During the past week we've discussed a number of great links; on Google+, Twitter, Facebook and so on. Here are a few of my favourites.

Gymchat 278 - Are Saturated Fats Really That Bad for You? (Kirsten Gallagher)

Should you, and how much?


What's the research like on saturated fats and cholesterol - what levels are optimal? How much do we need, and what sorts of things should we avoid? This week we'll be tackling these and a whole lot more, together with Personal Trainers Kirsten Gallagher and Josh Hewett. Fantastic.
NB : We'd love to hear your questions and comments. If there's a particular subject you'd like Kirsten and Josh to address, just swing by the event page for this Gymchat and leave a comment or jump in the Hangout and ask it directly. And if you'd like to point your friends/colleagues to the discussion, just use the 'share' button at the top of that page. The more the merrier.

Details -

Who : Personal Trainers Kirsten Gallagher and Josh Hewett, and You Topic : Are Saturated Fats Really That Bad for You? When : Monday Mar 16, 8:00pm EDT (the Event page shows what time that is in your local timezone). How : Watch the live stream, join the hangout (just add Top Form Fitness to one of your circles, and Josh'll send out the URL when the Hangout starts), or jump in the Q&A on the Event page itself. We'll also post the full video shortly after the Gymchat.

Looking At : Mar 8, 2015

What we were talking about this week on Google+, Twitter and the Daily 'Paper'



During the past week we've discussed a number of great links; on Google+, Twitter, Facebook and so on. Here are a few of my favourites.

How They Got Started : Matt Davidson

How the enigmatic Matt Davidson began.


The enigmatic Matt Davidson
The enigmatic Matt Davidson.
I love hearing everyones' fitness backgrounds, it's always fascinating to hear how someone got started. Here's how Matt Davidson began his own training journey. Scott

Hi, Scott. You said that you would like to hear about my workout past and my methods, so I'm finally getting back to you about that. I started working out in my early teens at the age of 13 or 14, using my dad's old Sears Roebuck and Co. vinyl coated weight plates and standard barbell. I didn't have access to a squat rack, so my leg training was always a little lacking. As far as goals, I wanted to build everything: speed, strength, stamina, power (once I learned that there was a difference between strength and power), and agility. As much as I wanted to build these different things, I mainly followed a basic body-building program. I was able to build my deadlift strength up to around 280 lb.

Unfortunately, I went for a period where I got out of my workouts routine and I lost some of my strength. Even now at the age of 20, I'm still struggling with staying consistent with my workouts. I recently purchased a Yoke, which doubles as a squat rack, so I can build my lower-body strength and power (I desperately need some lower-body strength. Since I've just start squatting I can only squat around 135 lbs, and I'm having to adjust to the crushing feeling of having a barbell across my shoulders). My goals are still focused on strength and athletic ability. In my workouts now, I utilize a lot of compound and complex training, while focusing on movement patterns. For example, for my squats, I'll do a heavy 5-rep barbell squat, immediately doing five reps of an explosive leg movement such as speed skaters or squat jump, and then an isometric one-leg split squat, while holding a 25 lb. kettlebell. My thinking for this approach is along the lines of the theory behind compound training, that the heavy set will activate the muscle fibers, the lighter-weight, explosive movement will utilize the activated muscle, and then the isometric move (my own addition) will utilize the slow-twitch muscle fibers as the fast-twitch fibers tire out and the slow-twitch fibers begin to kick in. With my squats, I'll also incorporate an overhead pressing complex, and a pull-up complex. I'm trying to incorporate as many exercise tools and methods as possible: barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, weight-sleds, medicine balls, a yoke, and resistance bands to substitute weighted cables. I also have my eye on several peices of exercise equipment to also incorporate into my training so I can keep my workouts (and my body) versatile.

Thanks for taking an interest in my workouts and training methods. I hope you found this interesting, and that it may help someone else along and give them some ideas. Keep lifting, Matt.

Cheers Matt, appreciated.

The Stubborn Fat Solution 1.1


Looks good. As you can no doubt tell from the title, this is the updated version of Lyle McDonald's Stubborn Fat Solution. Full review shortly (I'm about to dive in to it myself), but first a few words from Lyle on the reason for the update :

In the original Stubborn Fat Solution, I briefly discussed a hormone called Atrial Natriuretic Peptide (ANP). As I talked about, ANP represents an entirely new fat burning (lipolytic) pathway that works outside of the normal insulin/catecholamine mechanisms.

But at the time, I saw and knew of no meaningful way of manipulating or impacting the pathway and left it at that. A little while later I would find a solution and this booklet was actually started years ago; then I put it away.

Recently, in researching something else, I found that ANP appeared to be even more powerful than I had previously thought. Because in addition to stimulating fat mobilization, ANP (and the other natriuretic peptides) can also increase levels and activity of beige fat (a brown-fat like type of fat that humans actually have) along with helping to control appetite.

Lyle McDonald's Stubborn Fat Solution 1.1. Good stuff.

NB : We first looked at this one in the weekly Strength & Fitness Newsletter (part of the Strength Kit). If you'd like to have it sent to you automatically (free!) each week, just add your email here.


Crushing Potatoes with Your Hands


The best way to mash potatoes. Nice one Chris.

NB : We first looked at this one in the weekly Strength & Fitness Newsletter (part of the Strength Kit). If you'd like to have it sent to you automatically (free!) each week, just add your email here.




Like to contribute something? I love hearing about how other people are training : if you've got a strength-related competition or seminar coming up, add it to the calendar. And if you'd love to be on one of the weekly Gymchats - get in touch. Look forward to hearing from you.


Want More?

As you can imagine, there’s an incredible amount of material on this site. Articles, video demonstrations & tutorials, the weekly Gymchats and a whole lot more. To keep up with everything going on in the World of Strength, sign up for the weekly Strength & Fitness Newsletter.

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