Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Welcome to the Gymchats IV : 137 – 156
Written By : Scott Bird

Over the past few months we’ve had some superb discussions on Google+ : thank you all. It really is fantastic to hear your ideas and techniques on such a wide variety of training topics.

I’ve outlined the most recent conversations (the weekly Gymchats) below. First though, if you’re not sure what they are (and how to take part in one), here’s a quick summary :

The Gymchats are a mix of discussion and interview; looking at a different training-related topic each week. To take part, just add a question or comment to the main discussion thread (and the thread is announced in the newsletter, the forums and on Google+ itself – wherever you are, you’ll see it).

NB : if you’re a professional trainer, coach or athlete – and would like to share your experience with the fantastic audience here – I’d love to hear from you. Just post a comment below, or contact me privately.

And now, the discussions themselves. Fantastic.

Looking back at my own nutrition history, it’s safe to say that my diet’s changed many, many times over the past 8 years. And yes, there’s still room for quite a bit of fine-tuning.

This week we’ll be looking at some of the more common dietary problems (fat loss, minimising hunger, reducing sugar intake and so on) and discussing the simplest ways to solve each one. Should be a great conversation.


If you enjoy a dose of sun/sand/surf, you’ll love this.

This week we’ll be looking at one of the toughest ways to physically challenge yourself, the triathlon. The nutrition, strength work and mental preparation involved.


Over the years we’ve discussed a lot of home-made equipment. Absolutely love it.

There are many reasons to opt for the ‘build vs buy‘ route, at least initially; particularly when you’re short on cash or just trying things out. This week we’ll be looking at the equipment itself : the types of things you can make, common techniques, the basic gear you’ll find yourself using all the time and where to get it.

And if you’re in the middle of your own DIY Equipment project, we’d love to hear about it.

I’ve been chatting with Maik recently about his approach to bulking, and about his thoughts on nutrition in general. Fascinating to say the least.

In this week’s Gymchat we’ll be investigating this cycled approach to bulking, what it involves, and when to use it; as well as sharing a few ideas on bulking in general. Whether you’re doing something similar there, have a competition coming up later in the year, or are simply curious about packing on a bit of mass; we’d love to hear your questions, comments and ideas.

When it comes to the lifting of heavy objects, the emphasis is often placed on the upper body. A little chest training, some back work, some work on the arms and perhaps a spot of grip.

And for many people, that’s about it.
This week we’ll be exploring the oft-overlooked – yet equally important – side of any decent lifting routine : leg training. Much more than just squats (though they’re certainly a fantastic place to start), it’ll actually provide many more benefits than pure size or strength.

What exactly is motivation? What role does it play in your training, and how can it be improved?

This week we’re returning to this fascinating area; looking at things from a number of angles. What it is, how to get it, and how to use it to your advantage.

This is definitely the time of year to take stock of your life. To look at what you’ve been doing, and to set your goals for 2012.

This week we’ll be taking a look at Goals & Goal Setting (in a fitness & health context, of course) – what to aim for, how to set targets, recording & measuring everything; as well as sharing ideas on your own goals for this year. Really looking forward to it.

I love training; it’s safe to say that these days it’s a key aspect of my life. Can’t get enough.

Still, if you’re just considering embarking on this incredible journey, you may be wondering exactly where to begin. What equipment to use, how much space you need (if you’re setting up a home gym), what to eat & drink; what to do. There are a lot of questions.

This week we’ll be answering as many of them as possible. Discussing how to ‘Get Started‘, no matter what your goals are. Sharing the information that helped us on our own journeys, as well as the things we’ve picked up along the way.

No matter which sports you enjoy, if a spot of Football is on the list you’re in for a treat. Regardless of the flavour you follow, it’s certainly a great game to play (and to watch). Highly recommended.

This week we’re continuing our ‘Training for Football‘ series (we first looked at the wonderful world of Aussie Rules almost a year ago), with an examination of the American form of the sport. How to train, when to start and how to incorporate it into your other routines.

Since switching to a Paleo diet a couple of years ago, I’ve seen some incredible health changes. It’s highly recommended.

This week we’re looking at just what it’s like to follow this dietary approach (or Primal, for that matter) over the long term. What are the long-term benefits of this way of eating, and what sort of things are fine-tuned along the way?

It’s clear that what you eat plays a huge role in your fitness, health and overall well-being.
No matter how far into your strength-training journey you are though, it’s not always apparent just what to do. How much of everything do you need? In what forms? Where from?

This week we’re diving in to the world of Nutrition, looking at the basics of what to do, when and why.

Although I’ve sampled a number of forms of strength-training, running isn’t one of them.


This week we’re taking a look at this enigmatic activity, and finding out just what I’m missing out on. How to train for it and how it helps with other forms of your training (and overall condition).

I love the home gym – everything’s always ready to go, set up exactly the way I like. Adjust weights, add bands/chains/other fun things and dive in. Perfect.

This week we’re returning to our conversation on Training at Home – equipment & space required, sharing progress and getting feedback. The many ways to make the most of what’s available.

A little over a year ago we first looked at the idea of training longevity; specifically Strength Training Over 40. Time to revisit some of those ideas, from a slightly different angle.

This week we’ll be returning to our discussion, looking at the nutritional, recovery, injury and equipment considerations related to training at this age. Everything that will help make sure you’re stronger, healthier and in generally better condition in your 40s (and onward) than you are/were in your 20s.

The ability to dive in and experience almost any aspect of training is something most of us take for granted.

This week we’ll be taking a look at the incredible work of Autism Fitness‘ Eric Chessen, who is certainly well-versed in making a difference in this extremely challenging area. As I’m still on vacation, this interview will be conducted by none other than Personal Trainer Kirk Fontaine. Fantastic.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be doing a little travelling (New Zealand – should be plenty of photos when I get back), returning on Nov 16. As I’m not sure what my internet connection will be like at the time of the discussions, I’ve invited a couple of guest moderators to look after things.

This week it’s the incredible Derek ‘D-Rock‘ Peruo. Should be a brilliant conversation.

When you work out, do you warm up at all? Stretch perhaps? Or do you dive straight in?
This week we’ll be discussing the benefits of warm-ups and stretching – and when, and how to do them. Helping us explore this fascinating topic is none other than personal trainer Kirk Fontaine, interviewed by Derek ‘D-Rock‘ Peruo. Fantastic.

One of the many fascinating aspects of strength-training is that everyone has a slightly different approach; based on their own goals, available equipment and information. Love it.

This week we’ll be returning to our discussion on training approaches, focusing on the many aspects of fitness other than the lifting itself. What’s your current diet like,

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. A regular dose of fitness-focussed discussions, absolutely free.

And if you'd like to check out any of the stuff mentioned above (or in the comments), swing by Amazon. Huge assortment of fitness gear.


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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.

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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 X (Formerly Twitter), Facebook and the various networks listed in the sidebar.
Drawing of Scott Andrew Bird performing a deadlift. Artwork by Vince Palko.