Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Phase 1 Summary
Written By : Scott Bird

Well that completes the first 12 weeks of resistance work, and I must say I’m hooked. During that period I’ve tried out a number of exercises with the aim of finding both those which are providing me with the greatest gains in strength, and those which I enjoy doing. Fortunately the two goals overlap in my new friend the Romanian Deadlift. I love it.
My goals for this period were to learn the basic techniques for these exercises, as well as establishing a base of strength for future work. After a decade of working behind a desk – and doing little or no strenuous exercise – I’m somewhat weaker and less flexible than I’d like to be.
The major changes over the first 12 weeks :

  • An increase in weight – around 4-5kg, although this was never a primary objective I’m happy with it (at 1.83m tall and 74kg I’m still much lighter than I want to be)
  • Increase in size of upper arms, calves, thighs, chest, forearms – the most obvious gain here has been a 5cm increase of chest measurement
  • Muscle imbalances have been made clearer, with the biggest being hamstrings/quads (the hamstrings were only moving around half the weight of the quads, but the Romanian Deadlifts are making a difference here)
  • Most importantly, and perhaps the most difficult to measure, is an improvement in overall strength. Whilst I’m not about to race out and start picking up cars, everyday tasks are getting just that little bit easier.

Now the fun part – setting goals for the next 3 months :
A few months of resistance work has given me a taste for the benefits of enhanced flexibility, which again goes toward the idea of making everyday tasks just that little bit easier. Rather than limit my increased flexibility to the period just after a workout when I am still warm, I’ll be adding both dynamic and static stretching routines to the workouts in order to make the benefits available 24 hours a day.
I’m still considering ways in which to measure progress – for now I’ll use photographic evidence as well as the standard measurements for things like hamstring flexibility (one of the main areas I want to improve).
My overall goals centre around strength, and I’m a little closer aligned to the mentality of a powerlifter than a bodybuilder in that respect. Once the hamstring/quad imbalance has been corrected, I want to include more compound lifts – particularly squats – to my routines. The idea of getting my hands on a reasonable power cage is still floating around; and this would certainly come in handy for max-effort squats and bench presses.
Training schedule
I’ve decided to move from 3 to 4 sessions per week, using a simplified Westside-style upper/lower/speed/strength breakup. The basic breakdown of days will be :

Sunday : Upper body – speed
Monday : Lower body – strength
Tuesday : Limited cardio / bodyweight resistance work
Wednesday : Upper body – strength
Thursday : Limited cardio / bodyweight resistance work
Friday : Lower body – speed
Saturday : Limited cardio / bodyweight resistance work

We’ll see how that goes.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



NB : if you love talking about strength-training as much as I do, you might also like to check out the weekly newsletter (there's also a daily version available). A regular dose of fitness-focussed discussions, absolutely free.


What's This?

Straight to the Bar is the online home of fitness enthusiast Scott Bird, and looks at the many training approaches, essential techniques, uncommon exercises and superb equipment to help you become as strong as humanly possible. In short, this site is the home of all things strength.

images of strength

'Napalm' Jedd Johnson.
Want to see (and learn) more Feats of Strength like this? Dive in.

Just Joined Us? Try These.

There are some incredible writers on the team here. To give you an idea, check these out :

If you enjoyed these, check out the complete ‘Best Of Straight to the Bar‘ list. Fantastic.

setting up a home gym?

If you’re getting ready to put together a solid Home Gym (fantastic thing), here’s how.

For more, swing by the full guide. Absolutely free.

And of course, you’ll find everything you need over in the SttB Strength Store. Massive range.

Ever Tried Kettlebells?

If you’ve seen people using them but never taken the plunge yourself, here are the ones I use personally. You can also pick up a book/DVD/course if you want to learn how to put them to work.

Ready To Learn Even More?

I love learning new skills, and the many seminars & workshops available are a great way to do that. If you’re looking for a specific type of workshop nearby, check out the ones on Dragon Door. Great mix of kettlebell and calisthenics-based offerings.

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program.

If you’re a fitness professional and love the Precision Nutrition approach, check out their certification offering. To say it’s comprehensive is an understatement.

Wherever You Are, We Are.

In addition to the main site, you can share your strength-training passion with a like-minded community on :

Wherever you like to hang out, get your regular dose of strength. Straight to the Bar.

Written By Scott Bird
Scott is a long-time fitness enthusiast (Jan 2004!), writer and photographer living in Sydney, Australia. If you share the passion for spending a bit of time under a bar, welcome. Love hearing how everyone else trains. You can connect via Twitter, Facebook and the various networks listed in the sidebar.
Drawing of Scott Andrew Bird performing a deadlift. Artwork by Vince Palko.