Sunday, November 10, 2013

Alternative Approaches to Exercise Prescription

Welcome to another Straight to the Bar Gymchat! In this Hangout I was joined by Matthew Palfrey. We discussed alternative exercise prescription, sandbag training, exercise selection, program design, and how to keep it simple!

Matt Palfrey is a strength and conditioning coach, health and fitness consultant, the founder of the Sandbag Fitness Blog and the author of The Complete Guide To Sandbag Training and Sandbag Training For MMA & Combat Sports.

He believes that training should be simple but effective, and that a no-nonsense approach works best every time. His Sandbag Fitness Blog attracts unconventional trainees, strength sport competitors, martial artists and CrossFitters the world over.

Find out more about his sandbags at:

Follow Matt on his blog at:

Connect with Matt on Facebook at:

And on Twitter at:

You can also email Matt directly at

Thursday, November 7, 2013

In Honor Of Remembrance Day

This post is my small way of saying "Thank You" to the brave men and women who died in military service of their country. For me this is not about glorifying war or making any sort of political statement. It's simply about honoring those who gave their lives in the many wars fought to protect our freedom.

So what exactly is this day all about? Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the official end of the World War I hostilities on November 11, 1918. World War I was a massive conflict played out over the whole globe, but particularly in Europe, where troops from Canada supported the Allied forces.

World War I resulted in the loss of huge numbers of lives amongst both civilians and military personnel. Many more people were badly injured. The war left great emotional scars on the servicemen who had experienced it, as well as in their families and communities. Remembrance Day commemorates those who died in armed conflicts, particularly in and since World War I.

In Canada, November 11 is officially called Remembrance Day, but it is also known as Armistice Day and Poppy Day. Remembrance Day is commemorated in many countries, particularly members of the Commonwealth, including Australia and New Zealand (where it is also referred to as Armistice Day). In the United States, Veterans Day falls on the same date. In the United Kingdom, the Sunday closest to November 11 is known as Remembrance Sunday.

Let us never forget.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Movember Epic Moustache Mission

Much to the dismay of my wife and daughter I have decided to participate in Movember this year!

This means I will be grooming my moustache for the entire month to increase awareness of and raise funds to combat testicular and prostate cancer. But I can't do it alone... I need your support to fight the good fight! Find out more and give what you can on my MoBro page at:

Or sign up yourself and start growing your own epic stache! If you do I invite you to join our team at:

Thanks for the support... now let's grow!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gym Chat 221 - The Paleo Approach to Nutrition

This Gym Chat featured Adam Farrah as my guest, and we had a great chat about the Paleo approach to nutrition. I was able to really clear up alot of the questions I had about Paleo, and we shared some interesting anecdotes and facts about how society's current approach nutrition has some serious holes that need to be plugged.

Adam Farrah has been working with Paleo and Evolutionary approaches to health and living since 2004 when his health collapsed -- seemingly "randomly" and "inexplicably."

As a former biotech scientist with an education in chemistry, random and inexplicable wasn't going to suffice. The journey had begun. Years of voracious reading, research and trial and error led him back to health and to a new life based on Paleo eating and living. An early blogger and writer in the Paleo niche, he blogs at

Adam's experience includes:

•B.S. in Chemistry Cum Laude from The University of Connecticut
•IKFF Certified Kettlebell Teacher -- Level 1
•Apprentice Grappling Instructor under Harris International
•CrossFit Level 1 Trainer with an array of other CrossFit Certifications
•Kettlebell and CrossFit Coach since 2008
•Author of "The Paleo Dieter's Missing Link" (to be released November 2013)

Here's a link to that book special offer we mentioned in the interview: ...

You can find out more about Paleo and get in contact with Adam at the following links:


Btw, interesting factoid: Adam and his blog were also central to the "Strong is the New Skinny" meme spreading on Facebook.


If you'd like to be a guest in an upcoming Gym Chat (we do these every week), or if you want to suggest someone as a guest, let us know by contacting or

To learn more about the Gym Chats check out:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Training Progressions for the Front Lever

Last year I focused much of my training on calisthenics / body weight exercises, to master challenging movements like the muscle up, pistol squats, handstand pushups, etc. I found the front lever and the planche to be the toughest calisthenics exercises so far!  My goal is to hold the front lever for 5 seconds.

Kane Sumabat introduced me to this exercise, and after training with him for a few weeks I improved greatly, but I still have trouble holding the position. Here is some footage from one of my workouts with Kane.

Here are a serious of training progressions I used over a period of several weeks to work up to performing the front lever. Where you start and how long it will take you depends on many things, including your current strength and training experience, your height and weight, how often you train, and any injuries you may have (among other factors).

Good luck and train hard! Also keep an eye out for the BodyWeight Hypertrophy program Kane and I will be producing soon, at


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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Is a Vegan Diet Right For You?

Maybe you've asked yourself "Is a Vegan diet right for me?" Maybe you're a Vegan already. And that's OK... we all make mistakes; let's talk about it.

Let's take a look at why Veganism may not be ideal for many people. IMO, the main issues are that it is difficult to achieve balanced nutrition on a vegan diet, especially if you are strength training. That doesn't mean it's all bad... I do agree with reducing dairy, eating less processed foods, staying hydrated, eating more veggies, staying alkaline, more fiber, etc...but I do suggest caution with such an extreme/restrtictive approach. It may be better to take what works and leave the rest (what some call being a "flexitarian").

Here are some of the main issues with a vegan diet:

Deficient in essential nutrients:

Low fat, high carb diets are based on certain myths and misconceptions:

Now what about DR and those YouTubers who suggest high carb, low fat, low protein diets and lots of cardio? Check out these links to learn the real issues with excessive cardio:

Both endurance and strength athletes need more protein:

Protein for fat loss:

Also remember, there are NO essential carbohydrates, but there are essential amino acids (protein), and essential fatty acids (in fat). If we stopped eating ALL fat, we die. If we stopped eating ALL protein, we also die. But we can live without carbs.

I'm not suggesting to stop eating all carbs... just making a point that your body can function without them. In fact, FAT is a far more efficient fuel source. Find out why at the links below (interesting shit!):

Get Fat Adapted:

Shift Your Metabolism:

But the biggest problem with a Vegan diet is: NO Bacon!

#DurianRider #Vegan

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

IIFYM vs Clean Eating - Eat to Transform your Physique

Is it really "IIFYM vs Clean Eating" or are these 2 approaches really complementary? Here I discuss the virtues and drawbacks of IIFYM and "eating clean" and offer some suggestions on how to create your own nutrition plan based on this information.

This video is an excerpt from a longer video in which I also discuss what calorie and macronutrient ratios to use... check that out here:

Here is the link to my blog post on IIFYM:

Remember, my goal is to help you reach your goals!  Send me your #nutrition, #fitness, #performance, #FatLoss, or #muscle-building questions by posting a comment on my Facebook Page and I'll post a response for you:

It's time to #GetInTopForm

Monday, October 21, 2013

How to Set Up A Home Gym (Beginner to Advanced)

Having a home gym ROCKS! For many trainees a home gym has distinct advantages over going to a commercial gym. You just need to evaluate the space you have available... would you use your basement, garage, shed, spare room, or even your bedroom? Or just train at the park outside?

Quite often people will be on a budget when they first set up some home training accessories, and over time they build from the basics. I see it as different levels of Home Gym Evolution... this video describes 4 Levels:

1. Bodyweight & Bands Basics
2. Free Weights (basic to advanced options)
3. Cable Pulley Machines
4. Training Accessories (Belts, wraps, straps, chains, handles, chalk, etc)

In this tutorial I take you on a tour of my own basement gym and show you what I recommend as far as the bare essentials for setting up your own home gym: Mat, Ball, Bands, Suspension Straps, Chin Up bar, and maybe Parallel Dip Bars.

Then I take a look at how I would build from there for a more advanced home gym: Olympic free weight barbell set, bench, rack, dumbbells, other accessories and equipment.

Home Gym Set Up (SttB Article):
Get your Power Wheel at:
Jungle Gym Straps:
Other accessories:

Btw, I also have equipment in my garage... Garage gym: atlas stone, steel log, sled, farmers walk handles, Olympic plates, 650 lb Tire (my baby tire... big one is in storage).

Also check out my recent interview on this same topic at :

I hope that gives you some guidance and ideas for setting up your own home gym! I'm sure your neighbors will thank me for the loud music, clanging plates, and dropping weights... have fun and get strong!


Saturday, October 19, 2013

My Human Flag Progress

I'm working on nailing the Human Flag for at least 5 seconds each side.
When I do so I will post a tutorial with the progressions I used to be able to perform the Flag.  It's a tough one!

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"Natural" Glute Ham Raise (GHR) Alternatives

The glute ham raise is a unique and effective exercise that targets your entire posterior chain, specifically your butt and hamstrings.  It is a very "functional" way to train your hamstrings, and hits the core hard also.  It also fits in nicely with my mission to incorporate more 'natural' or body-weight type exercises into my program.

However, not everyone has access to a GHR machine, so this video outlines some alternatives.  Here is another piece of portable equipment I found as well:


Insane Pre-Workout Stimulant Overdose

In our constant quest for the perfect pre-workout supplement, I came across this deadly yet incredibly effective supplement. Could this be the answer to an amazing workout, or could it mean... the END?!

No jokes, I will actually be doing reviews of different pre-workout supplements soon... subscribe and watch for those!

Still not convinced a pre-workout supplement is right for you? Listen to the Brofessor:


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