Strength & Fitness Newsletter

Posted : May 9, 2011
Monday, 9 May 2011

This Week on Straight to the Bar

I’m constantly amazed at just how much my training is influenced by the people on this site. Whether you’re looking for a new piece of equipment, an unusual exercise variation or just an idea of how others approach things, you’ll enjoy these :

Ready to add your own opinion, workout log or training article? Just head over to the Forums, Training Logs, or swing by the Article Submissions page. They’re fantastic ways to share your ideas.

NB : I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment beneath the article itself, and share your views with the fantastic strength-training community. Cheers.

Video : Dinnie Stone Training

Mike T Nelson does several somewhat uncommon lifts, including this : using the Dinnie Stone Handles. Nice one.

Twitterchat 117 – Myofascial Release

When it comes to injury prevention and recovery, there’s nothing quite like a dose of Myofascial Release. Love it.
This week we’re discussing the Myofascial Release approach – everything from what it is, to how to learn it and what to do. No matter what your own workouts are like, this will certainly help you get a little more from them.

Helping us explore this fascinating topic is none other than Fitness Town‘s Eva Martens (@FiT_girl). Fantastic.

Details –
Who : Strength-training fans
Topic : Myofascial Release
When : Wed May 11, 9pm EDT (1am UTC)
How : Include #sbgym in your tweets.
If you’ve never been to one of these twitterchats before, here’s how to join in the fun. Simple, quick to set up and free.
And to see when it’s on in your timezone, head over to the twitterchat calendar.
See you there.

Scott Bird. Artwork by Vince Palko.

Yes, I love the deadlift.

Quick update on last week’s twitterchat : Thanks once again to everyone who took part in the discussion on Getting Started : Training for Beginners. Some superb ideas in there.
For those who missed out on the conversation, here’s a brief summary. Was a great one.

Tip of the Week: Increasing Chin-ups & Pull-ups

Each week we publish a number of tips and techniques via twitter, facebook, the forums, the blog; and now the newsletter. Wherever you are, there’s always a way to improve what you’re doing.
This tip comes to us from Straight to the Bar‘s own Scott Andrew Bird (@scottbird), and Unbreakable‘ Adam Glass – who blogs over at Walk The Road Less Traveled. Enjoy.

One of my favourite forms of bodyweight (or weighted) training is a set of chin-ups. Whether in the home gym or somewhere a little more public, any form of chin-up (and there are a number of varieties) is welcomed. Love the things.
This article lists the basic strategies for increasing the number of chin-ups (or pull-ups) you can do in a single, continuous, set. Whether you’re looking to go from 1 to 3, or 25 to 30; the logic is the same. There are 3 basic approaches to consider :

1. Deload the body. There are various ways to reduce the amount of weight you’re lifting with each rep –

  • have a partner stand behind you with their hands on your back,
  • choke a resistance band to the bar, and stand in it,
  • start with one leg on a box, and give yourself a slight push.

All of these work, and the option you choose will depend largely on what is available to you at the time.
2. Overload the body. If you’re already able to perform at least 3-4 reps, try adding a bit of weight (10-15lb is all it takes) and knocking out one perfect rep. If you can do one or two of these at the start of your workout, the bodyweight-only lifts will seem comparatively easy, nice and fast.
3. Find yourself on the bar frequently. Make a point of doing a small number of reps (even just 1), several times a day. If you can do even one rep, 5-8 times daily, you’ll increase your total reps in no time.
Note that there are ‘bars‘ everywhere you look – make use of them. Ledges, branches, steel frames, heavy doors and so on. Use whatever’s handy.
Chin-ups and Pull-ups are wonderful things. Once you start doing them regularly, it’s amazing just how many ‘bars‘ you’ll find around the place and how many reps you can do.

NB : this post first appeared on the Straight to the Bar Forums. For more tips like these, swing by the Beginners area, and check out Adam’s superb articles on the site. Good stuff.

Looking Forward To : The Smarter Strength Workshop

This looks great.
The Smarter Strength Workshop takes the Gym Movement Protocol (if you recall the Grip ‘n’ Rip approach, you understand the basic idea), and expands it enormously. What’s more, it’s an even more powerful, detailed and accessible way in to some truly astonishing transformations.
For more information on the Smarter Strength Workshop – everything from the ‘what‘ to the ‘when‘ – here’s ‘Unbreakable‘ Adam Glass.

Quick update on the Beast Sled : A few weeks ago we noted the Beast Sled; beautiful thing.
If you haven’t ordered yours yet, swing by the The Beast Sled site and check them out. I’d love to hear what you think.

Exercise of the Week : Compound Dumbbell Stiff-Legged Deadlift

I’ve been doing quite a bit of extra Hamstring (and the Posterior Chain in general) work over the past couple of weeks, and this exercise has certainly been getting a run. Great thing.
I first saw the Compound Dumbbell Stiff-Legged Deadlift way back in August 2004 on Kristoffer Lindqvist‘s excellent site, Under the Bar. And as you can see, he found it in the treasure-trove that is Bill Pearl‘s Keys to the Inner Universe. Fantastic book.

To perform the Compound Dumbbell Stiff-Legged Deadlift :
Starting with feet about shoulder-width apart, and the dumbbell in front of the left foot, bend forward at the hips and straighten the legs (don’t lock the knees). Grab the bell with the right hand, straighten, then lean straight forward and touch the bell to the ground between your feet. Straighten once again, then lean forward and touch the bell in front of your right foot. That’s one rep.
Repeat the process using the left hand, working from the right foot to left.


There are two major ways to vary this exercise (in addition to adjusting things like your rest breaks, and placing it earlier/later in your routine) :
Use a kettlebell, or any other heavy object instead of a dumbbell. The way in which it’s held, and the distance from the ground, will both change the way it feels.
Adjust the range of motion. Stand on a low platform (or weight plate, or anything else which gets you off the ground) and touch the floor with the weight.
Overall, it’s a great one. The Compound Dumbbell Stiff-Legged Deadlift.

Incidentally, if you’d like to get in touch regarding this or any other aspect of strength, you can send me an email here. Look forward to hearing from you.

Free eBooks from Straight to the Bar

10 Essential Conditioning ToolsAs a Strength & Fitness Newsletter subscriber you get several great eBooks, absolutely free. Just head over here, save them to your hard-drive, and dive in.
Good stuff.
NB : This is an ever-changing list of books. If you’d like to put your own work in front of a fantastic strength-focussed audience, let me know.

Time for Some New Gear? Here’s What to Get, and How to Use It

Straight to the Bar GuidesThanks to everyone who’s sent in feedback (via email, Facebook and Twitter) about the Straight to the Bar Guides – it’s greatly appreciated.
For everyone who hasn’t seen them yet, the Guides will help you decide what to get (and where), and how to train with it. There’s some great information in there.