Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


The First Year
Written By : Scott Bird
Filed In : Articles

It’s been just over a year since I first began to share my bedroom with weight plates. Over that time the act of lifting weights has gradually moved towards the status of ‘healthy obsession‘ (although there are some who would dispute the ‘healthy‘ part of that phrase), and shows no signs of becoming anything less.

The following is a quick look back at the major events that shaped my training :
March ’04
The Marcy Pro weight bench arrived. Complete with attachments for hamstring and preacher curls, this promised to support far more weight than I’ll be looking at for quite some time.
If starting again, I’d probably buy a simpler bench; however at the time I bought this, the power cage was yet to be even a consideration.

My initial routine was based on a 10 week plan from a Mens Fitness magazine (it’s the only time I’ve ever been tempted to buy one), with a few changes to suit the lack of equipment. Still, with a barbell, two dumbbells and a bench, I certainly had the basics covered.

April ’04
I increased my cardio with a daily dose of cycling. It was only 15 mins, but that was quite enough for me at the time.
PICT1227.jpgThis was the month when I first uttered ‘time to buy some more weights‘. Well, I only started with 50kg. I decided to switch to Olympic plates (for several reasons, the main one being the increased size of the bar) and grabbed a set – barbell and 145kg of weights.

My diet slowly improved.
The deadlift entered my routines.
Knocked up wrist roller and a chain for grip work.

May ’04
Photos and video first made an appearance on this blog.
Switched from a 3 day/week beginner’s routine to a 4 day/week westside powerlifting routine.
Acquired a couple of Captains of Crush grippers (Trainer and #1), and moved the grip training up a notch.
Introduced both dynamic and isometric stretching to the routines.

June ’04
First sampled the delights of Zercher Squats.
cage instructions thumbPower cage arrived. This is a purchase I’ve never regretted – the extra safety allowed me to push harder with confidence; the cage’s versatility enabled me to try out a greater range of exercises. Fantastic.
One of the new exercises the cage enabled me to explore is the chin-up – and I still love them. Quick, simple and highly effective.

The cage also marked the beginnings of my squat training. Prior to that I didn’t have so much as a pair of squat stands; so my leg work up to that point consisted of the usual raises and curls.
040625_seatedfloorsweep.jpgNew exercises: Bradford Press, Sweeping the Floor, Box squatting, Rack Pulls and the Floor press.

Began noting weights for each exercise on blog.

July ’04

Spent a gym-free week in The Netherlands. Managed to lose 3kg in the process, but put it back on with a few weeks. Illness shortly afterward made sure this was a light training month.
040728_hangclean.jpgDipped a toe in the waters of Olympic lifting with a go at the Hang clean. Toe in, toe straight back out.
New exercises: Zottman Curl, Incline close-grip bench press, Hang clean, Seated good morning.

August ’04
040801_neider.jpgNew exercises: Neider press, Floor press (close grip).
Departed for a month of sun in Australia.

September ’04

040929_hand.jpgUsing my parents’ home gym. As much as I loved being there, after a couple of weeks I was decidedly keen to return to the world of free weights.
October ’04
041013_dumbells.jpgInvested in some new dumbell handles (to fit the Olympic plates). These saw the introduction of the Tate Curl.
Began taking contrast showers semi-regularly, in an attempt to avoid much of the muscle soreness following heavy workouts.
Adjusted width of close-grip exercises.
Went ‘back to school’ with the squat.

New exercises: Tate Curl, Zercher Deadlift.041015_zercher_deadlift.jpg
November ’04
NEW-4.jpgBought a copy of Westside Deadlift Secrets. Eye opening.
Began Good Mornings from the pins; relieving part of the unnecessary stress on the spine.

December ’04

Comfort?Tried out the Front squat. Probably quite effective, but an acquired taste.
Convinced my flatmate to come and throw the iron around (otherwise known as acquiring a training partner).
Finally passed bodyweight in the Bench press, with an 80kg lift. Shortly afterward I was at the mercy of the dreaded flu – looked as though a repeat performance on the bench was a few weeks away.
Switched over to using a Sumo stance for the deadlift.
New exercises: Front squat, Hise Shrug, Deadlift (Sumo stance), Kneeling squat.

The Hise Shrug

January ’05

Began to experience slight shoulder pain when performing some lifts. Decided to give the shoulders a little rest by removing the main offenders from my routines – at least for a while. These included Upright rows, Dips, Incline bench press, Wide-grip chin-ups and Wide-grip bench pressing. I also started performing L-flyes to help strengthen the subscapularis.
New exercises: Side-to-side chin-up, Weighted chin-up, L-flye, JM press.

Kissing the wrist
February ’05
Oiled upStrained right adductor (combination of hill walking and muddy ground), and tried accupuncture in order to alleviate the pain. No effect.
Yet another illness-induced break – this time a respiratory infection.
Decided to incorporate more bodyweight exercises in my routines.
Switched from 4 to 3 days per week.
March ’05
New exercises: Jefferson lift, Barbell pullover.

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



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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.