The bent over row from the floor or barbell row

Exercise of the month: The Bent Over Row

When it comes to back work bent over row is a strong choice. The only problem is most people, in fact most trainers, we do it wrong.

Let me clarify, if you want to develop maximum strength, rather than just hypertrophy in the last, the bar must be pulled from the floor. Most people allow the bar to hang from the arms with their body at anywhere between 45 and 80 degrees. The more upright you are the more you can lift, true. But you affect less muscle, creating less adaption and moveover the bar moves a shorter distance (that’s why you can pull more weight as work done = weight X distance), in the same way a half squat compares to a full squat. So don’t massage your ego get results instead.

As for the hang while it enables the post stretch reflex, which will help you lift more, it makes the reps unmeasurable as the bottom of each pull may be different in high.

How To Do A Bent Over Row For Strength

Start with the bar on the floor, bumper plates are great for this as they give you a set high for each rep whatever weight you use.

Lean over the bar and grab hold. Use the grip your most comfortable with over hand hits more triceps, under hand more biceps.

With your back parallel to the floor lift the chest to brace the back. You do not need to artificially retract the shoulder blades, they will come back as you pull, if you pull hard and far enough. The lift should start with a hip thrust while keeping the back level. Then pull the bar virtually slamming it into the upper belly.

For a rep to count it must reach the stomach.

are you up for the Sugar Challenge

Sugar Challenge

😻I know you… and you’re already sweet enough. Adding extra sugar to your daily diet is unnecessary and definitely not good for you!

☣🧁So this week we’re going to be getting rid of ADDED SUGARS in our diets!

😲 There’s a HUGE difference between the natural sugars found in foods, and the added sugars that we put in our drinks and foods.

🧐 The scary thing is, these days sugar can sneak up on you with at least 60 different names, making them difficult to spot when scanning your labels.

In fact, here’s a great list with about 56 of them for you:

🍓It’s recommended that we (as adults) limit our daily-added sugar intake to around 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons a day.

❎🍪Your challenge this week is to avoid ANY added sugars to your diet! (this includes food AND drinks)

🥝 Fruit? It’s absolutely fine … it brings in a wide-variety of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients along with fiber.

But coffee or tea with sugar? SORRY!!!

If you absolutely, positively MUST add a little sweetness, I’d rather you go with these than sugar:

🍯Raw Honey (go easy on this if you’re watching your weight because the calories add up fast)


🥥Coconut Sugar

🧐 Now, be sure this week to check all of your nutrition labels …. even on items you’d never imagine (like bread, crackers and other processed foods) because sugar is added to pretty much everything.

After only one week without added sugar, your body and brain will be thanking you!

So, are you and your sweet tooth up for the challenge?! Let us know in a comment below! And keep us posted with how you’re doing and any successes or struggles.

I hope that helps you with your sweet tooth

“And, just so you know, I’m putting together a brand-new program starting 3rd Feb 2020. This is specifically for parents, who want to kick their bad habits and set a good example for your children, in 60 days. It’s a remote program, so you can join from anywhere in the world.

I’m looking for 10 to test it out at a HUGE DISCOUNT, help me work out the kinks, and get amazing results that I can use as a case study. If that’s you, comment ‘tell me more’ below and I’ll message you with the details.”

Exercise of the month: The Low Bar Squat

In short, done well, the squat or more specifically the low bar squat is the best exercise for all round development bar none. And now let me explain why…

Whatever your goal is. Be it strength, fitness, physique or health, squatting is one of the most fundamental movements we perform on a hourly basis. Just think about how many times a day do you sit down and stand up again? And once you have lost the ability to get up out your seat (squat) you also lose your independence, and that’s something none of us want.

So why don’t most trainers teach the low bar squat?

I believe the low bar squat isn’t used more is a mix of misinformation and lack of knowledge. So for most personal trainers, they only ever learn the high bar variety, as is easier to teach, and wrongly believed to be safer for clients.

Why the low bar squat?

Obviously the squat is not the only leg exercise out there, so why not do others instead?

Yes exercises like the deadlift are great exercises but let’s compare the deadlift to the squat, and the major muscles and joints being used.

High Bar


Knee dominant

Full range of knee but not hip movement

Use stretch shortening cycle

Low Bar

quad / Glute / Hamstring dominant

Hip dominant

Full range of movement

Use stretch shortening cycle


Glute / Hamstring dominant

Hip dominant

Partial range of movement

Don’t use stretch shortening cycle

So the high bar squat more commonly used by regular gym goers is quad dominant. If your a bodybuilder after big thighs you may think this is the way to go, but wait…

Another reason is, the high bar has the back in a more vertical position, this reduces shear (a cutting action across the length of the back). Better for those with back problems, or is it…

You can lift more in a deadlift thus increase in strength gain should be greater, but it’s not…

Here’s why!

The low bar squat, like the high bar squat, also works the quad though it’s full range of movement. Due to a heavier weight can be used will develop the quads equally well without them becoming the limiting factor as soon.

Shear, while it sounds dramatic is hyperfetical, i.e. its never happened to anybody. So you are far more likely to put your back out picking up a pen from the floor. An action that moves the vertebrae into flexion and rotation (bends and twists) at the same time.
The low bar due to the increased angle will force your back to get stronger, which is inherently better for it.

Yes you can lift more in a deadlift than the low bar squat. This is due to the reduced joint angle at the hip resulting in biomechanical advantage. The low bar squat works the hips though the full range of movement resulting in higher strength gain throughout the muscles of the hips and better stability of the hip.

A more stable hip means more stable knees and back, so we result in less knee, hip and back pain.


The Barbell Prescription Strength Training For Life After 40

Why I prioritize strength training over cardio beyond your 40s

As we get older more and more of us are showing an interest in our fitness that we took for granted in our youth. But when start this new fitness journey what should we prioritize, strength training or cardiovascular. There is no doubt cardio has a place in healthy lifestyle but what does hours on treadmills, roads and bike bring to the table and can we get it else were?

Tradition Cardiovascular Fitness Training

For many over 40’s cardio has been seen as the key to fitness, with endurance sports especially, and to some extent I agree. So if you want to be a great endurance athlete or even just finish a fun run, you need to practice running.

Now the primary aim of cardiovascular exercise as its name suggests is to work the heart and lungs. So put on your running shoes and start pounding the streets and what happens. If you haven’t trained in a while you’re so out of breath after 100 yrs you have to walk the rest or worse stop and prop up a lamppost for a while. So as you gain more experience this easies and you can jog the whole route, great.

Now let’s look at what’s happening to your lower body. Each time your foot strikes the ground a shock wave passes up the body. This can have a major impact on joint health especially knees, hips and even backs.

Metabolism is raised while doing and traditional cardio so one hour at a decent intensity may burn off as many as six hundred Calories, which has obvious benefits to anyone trying to control body weight. This will then reduce down over the following two hours to return to normal. Now, this is giving you a net gain of say six hundred and twenty extra Calories for the day.

High Intensity Interval training  

HIIT has been a hit for many in the last decade; it has many of the benefits of tradition cardio and can be done in far less time. Great you say.

Ok with HIIT your workout intensity is now going up your repetitions down, so what is happening to the lower body. We have reduced potential chronic wear and tear risk, but simply replaced it with an increased risk of acute injury of the soft tissues, such as ligaments, tendons and of course muscles.

Metabolism with HIIT is also raised and the same six hundred can be burn in just twenty minutes. On this occasion however, the metabolism takes longer to reduce to normal, as full recovery takes longer. We could be looking at twelve to twenty four hours of extra calorie expenditure. So in this case net gain could be around eight hundred to twelve hundred for the workout. You can see while it became so popular so quickly.

Strength Training

Lifting weights with good form while using a well constructed and periodised training programme, can not only make you stronger, but it can also improve structural alignment, provide support for joints (both cartilage and soft tissue), both of which reduces ware and injury risk. So when we do our running we remain injury free.

In addition strength training is CARDIOVASCULAR as well. Just take your heart rate after a set of heavy squats. It has been shown time and again to improve endurance performance, Mo Farah being a prime example. Reportedly after a training camp in the USA where he only did weight training he return to produce a PB.

Not only that but by increasing lean muscle tissue we raise metabolism permanently making weight control easier. If that was not enough benefit for weight control let’s look at the calories per session. In a one hour session we will probably but less than doing cardio, around four to four hundred and fifty Calories, but look what happens to the metabolism after. If you worked hard in your session your metabolism could be raised for two to three DAYS after the session. Let’s ‘do the math’ as the Americans would say. We have four hundred and fifty Calories from the session and then around five hundred additional calories from each day of recover, a net gain of one thousand nine hundred and fifty Calories a workout. We aim for three thousand five hundred calorie deficit a week for a one pound weight loss, so just two one hour workouts is enough for one pound of FAT loss a week.

But it doesn’t stop there!

Health benefits of just do weight training far outweigh those of just doing cardio. There is now a stack of evidence showing the more muscle you have in later life the long and better quality of life you are likely to have, and none of us are getting any younger.

In summary

I’m not against cardio and if you are training for a specific event like a marathon you will need to get your miles in. What I am saying is at least once or preferably twice a week, you need to go do so strength training and pick up something heavy.

If you are new to weight training or need help putting together a good training plan, get some qualified help, learning good technique early is far better than fixing it later when the damage is done. Machines, functional training and Crossfit are all ok in your first six months, after that you need then need to learn to progress your lifting properly to remain successful in your health and fitness goals.

“And, just so you know, I’m putting together a brand-new online challenge program starting in February 2020 . This is specifically for men and women in from 35 to 55, who want to be stronger, leaner and healthier in 60 days. It’s a remote program, so you can join from anywhere in the world.

I’m looking for 5 people to test it out at a HUGE DISCOUNT, help me work out the kinks, and get amazing results that I can use as a case study. If that’s you, comment ‘tell me more’ below and I’ll message you with the details.”