Strength & Fitness Newsletter

What's This?

The Strength & Fitness Newsletter is a weekly email newsletter which summarises the things added to Straight to the Bar (as well as a few gems from the archives). Absolutely free.

btw, I’d love to hear your feedback – both on the individual items and the newsletters themselves. Drop a comment below the relevant issue, or swing by Twitter ( I’m @scottbird ).




DragonDoor Workshops

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.


I listen to an ever-changing pool of podcasts, discussing the many aspects of training and nutrition possible. Most recently :
FoundMyFitness (Dr Matthew Walker on Sleep)

Over to you. Any you’d recommend?

Strength Training on Instagram

It’s fair to say that we’ve checked out quite a few images over the years – on Flickr & Smugmug in particular.

A friend of mine just pointed me to Chris Stanciu ‘s Instagram feed, which contains a great mix of nutrition and workout images :

NB : if you’d like to share your own images, just add them to one of the sites noted above and send us a link.

Strength Training on Facebook

I suspect you love talking about strength training constantly (certainly the case here), and you’re always on the lookout for places to do that. Comments on various sites, forums as well as various in-person communities.

Online, I gravitate toward both Twitter and Facebook. In addition to the SttB offerings, here’s another one you may wish to check out :

Garage Gym Reviews (Cooper Mitchell’s page)

We’ve noted a few of his videos in the past, and they’re great for diving in deep on a particular type of equipment. Nice one.

Twitter Lists

I use Twitter for a number of things, as I’m sure everyone else here does. To talk about strength training, nutrition and many other topics. Works well.

To make this a little easier – and so people can dive right in to the topics that interest them – I use Twitter’s ‘List functionality quite a bit. There’s a full list of them here :

Whatever you’re in to, it’s all there.

NB : the above lists are always being fine-tuned. If you know of someone who tweets regularly about a particular subject and should be on one of them, let me know.

Other (Daily) Newsletters You Might Like

Finally, for a daily dose of tangentially-related information – check out the following. All are compiled daily, and cover the following topics :

Aging & Longevity (living for a very, very long time)
Electric Cars in Australia (great way to help tackle air-pollution)
Better Sleep Nightly (my favourite form of recovery)

And yes, they’re absolutely free.

Bruce Lee : The Art of Expressing the Human Body (Bruce Lee & John Little)

If you’ve ever watched a Bruce Lee film and marveled at his strength, speed, agility, endurance, flexibility or muscularity, this book should take pride of place in your collection. Unlike many other writings covering everything from Lee’s training methods to nutrition, this book is based not on the recollections of people around him; but on Lee’s own notes. Brilliant.

Definitely worthy of a place on the fitness shelf.

Bruce Lee : The Art of Expressing the Human Body.

Monday, 18 Jul 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.

Video : Pro-grade vs Hardstyle Kettlebells

Ever wondered what the differences are? Dennis explains.

Twitterchat 127 : How Do You … II

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, and do you take any supplements? What sort of music do you listen to whilst training, or do you prefer to lift in silence? Other than getting a good nights’ sleep, how do you recover after a heavy session?
However you train, we’d love to hear about it. Join us for How Do You … II. Fantastic.

Details –
Who : Strength-training fans
Topic : How Do You … II
When : Wed Jul 20, 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.

Quick update on last week’s twitterchat : Thanks once again to everyone who took part in the discussion on Increasing Your Vertical Jump. 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: How Many Calories Do I Need?

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, and asks the deceptively simple question ‘How Many Calories Do I Need?‘.

The Healthy Option

Healthy. Photo by Sir Mo.

Whether you’re ready to pack on a bit of muscle, or are trying to reduce some excess bodyfat; you need to know how many calories to consume. Fortunately, whilst working it out takes a bit of time, it isn’t that difficult.

The first thing to do is to work out your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), or Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) (which is actually a different thing, but often used to mean the same and is close enough for our purposes). This article will explain exactly how :
How Many Calories Do I Need?
Next, Activity costs
Now that you’ve worked out how many calories you need in order to lie around all day, it’s time to add a few for the various physical activities that make life more interesting. These are anything from walking around to doing physical work all day; the table below should give you a good idea.
NB : the weight training will be added in later, so ignore it for now.
Activity Factors:
1.2-1.3 for Very Light (bed rest)
1.5-1.6 for Light (office work/watching TV)
1.6-1.7 for Moderate (some activity during day)
1.9-2.1 for Heavy (labor type work)
Now, simply multiply your RMR by the activity factor (1.6 in my case).
2052 x 1.6 = 3273.6
Finally, the Workouts
For the workouts, multiply your bodyweight (in kg) by the hours you spend by the Metabolic Equivalent (MET) of the particular activity. The table below should cover the most common ones :
intense free weight lifting… 6
moderate machine training… 3
high intensity cycling… 12
low intensity cycling… 3
high intensity walking… 6.5
low intensity walking… 2.5
high intensity running… 18
low intensity running… 7
circuit-type training… 8
So, for a typical weight session for me it would be :
Cost of activity = 84 x 1 x 6 = 504 kCal
Add the values of these to the RMR x activity factor (above) and you’ll get an idea of how many calories you need on a workout day. For me, this is 3273.6 + 504 = 3777.6 kCal. Of course this is only for 4 days per week (in my case); the daily average is 3561.6. It’s actually a little lower than I thought, but that’s still a lot of food to get through!

NB : The figures noted above reflected my diet at the time of the original article (Dec 2005), and are slightly different now. The process, however, is exactly the same.

Checking Out : Paul Anderson – The Mightiest Minister

This looks fantastic.
As you can probably tell, I’m gradually reading a few books I somehow missed the first time around. Next up : Randall J. Strossen‘s Paul Anderson: The Mightiest Minister. Looks superb.
If you haven’t yet read it, there’s a brief description below (and if you have, I’d love to hear your thoughts).
From Amazon :

What’d he really squat? How about the back lift and those one-arm presses? If you want to know, you’ll want to read this book. An Olympic gold medalist, world champion and world record holder in weightlifting, Paul Anderson is widely considered by the leading authorities to be one of the strongest men who ever lived, and his unofficial lifts continue to be the source of jaw-dropping wonder. This highly acclaimed book combines a readable style with scholarly precision; it compiles the principle articles on Paul Anderson from the major periods of his life, documents and reviews his lifts – both official and unofficial – and tells the story of the man who was dubbed a wonder of nature by the awestruck Russians, who were happy to stand out in the rain just for a chance to watch him lift.

Can’t wait to get into it.

Quick update on the Introduction to Strongman Training DVD : A few weeks ago we noted this incredible instructional video. Fantastic.
Whether you’re keen to incorporate some Strongman work yourself, or are coaching others; the Introduction to Strongman Training DVD is a brilliant place to start.

Exercise of the Week : The Bradford Press

An article by The Renegade first put me on to the Bradford Press (aka Rainbow Press) back in 2004, and ever since then it’s been a firm favourite. Fantastic exercise.
Named for US Olympic Weightlifter Jim Bradford (who had the reputation of being able to press any weight to was able to clean), the exercise itself is reasonably straightforward.
Begin with a military press, then carefully bring the bar down behind the head. Reverse the movement, and lift the bar up over the head and pause back at the starting point. That’s one rep. Curse and repeat.
A quick demonstration :

Not the easiest exercise you’ll ever do, but certainly one of the most rewarding. The Bradford Press is a great all-round shoulder developer.

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 Straight to the Bar eBooks

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.