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About Me
Hey yo! For those of you who don't know my name is Phoebus Apollo. I am a Pittsburgh, PA based blogger, web administrator, computer tech, fitness nerd, dad of 3 and once-passed bill writer. I believe in challenging the myths of modern America with nuanced thinking and open minded discourse.

I spent 3 years working in the Portland, OR area for Circuit City and 4 years before that working at Regal Cinemas in downtown Portland, many of you may know me from those places. After moving to Pittsburgh I worked at Sears and Office Depot/OfficeMax. Some of you may have met me via activities in the Pittsburgh area that I host or attend on meetup.com which is awesome. Others may know me from my work with Perverted Justice and their websites @ pjfi.org. A few may even remember that time I founded the alliance Of Sound Mind in Eve Online. My hometown is Greenville, MI where most of my family is located. Currently I enjoy a career with a great local IT company.

This is a home for my personal ideas, projects, fitness logs and other nonsense. Follow me on Facebook for pointless asides and hashtag parades!

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Exercise Log 12.7.13 (Jingle Bell Jog 5K)

Going to forgo the Flickr gallery today but yesterday’s run was alright. I didn’t do exceptionally well but I didn’t do exceptionally poor, I did fall below my mark but not by a wide margin. Probably overdressed for the occasion, the cold is intimidating but once you warm up you really don’t need too many layers of protection. Chip time for the 5K was 24:37 (was trying to beat 23:58, my PR), heart rate was 181 max with an average of 175, comparing that to my Turkey Trot results that means I averaged about the same level of exertion for a shorter run with substantially poorer peaks in my run (my peak heart rate on the 5 mile was 187). Burned 420 calories I believe I burned much more and exerted myself better on the treadmill a couple days before this.

I’m not gonna be all gripes though I did enjoy the run and felt like I had a great time, and that’s what counts right? Other stats: finished 100th out of 783, 66th out of 272 males and 15th of 35 men in my 5-year age bracket (30-34). So acceptable but not as good as I’d like, and I’m still leagues behind top ranking (for this race the top rankers finished in the 17-18 min category… I’d have to shave more than 6 minutes off my entire 5K time to be competitive there)

Since I’m too lazy to Flickr up my pics for you guys to see I thought I’d share my crossing the finish line video, courtesy the chronotrack results page. I’m in the white shirt, and you can tell how overdressed I am probably even with my hoodie off I had like 3 layers or shirts and pants. Will have to suck it up a little next time and go with a little less clothing.

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Exercise Log 12.5.13 (Back Day + Cardio)

So while I said I’m going to adopt a policy of only syndicating updates to my front page or Facebook that have good content, today was probably my best workout in two weeks so I’m syndicating this otherwise bland post because I wanna.


Oh Balls

Today was back day so after warmups I did some deadlifts, wanted to bang these out while I was fresh given I felt groggy from a last minute nap prior to my workout. Warmed up with 10 light deadlifts, set 2 was a 5 rep moderate weight and then I did a 5 rep set at a heavy weight (225lbs). After this started the calvacade of deadlift failure, as I tried and failed to lift a new max or match my old max rep. That’s okay though, because when reps fail volume never fails… did 5 more reps at this heavy weight (slowly focusing on eccentric motion and breaking as needed) then started yet another 5 rep set but on rep 2 I stopped and noticed that my loosening grip had the bar rotate in my hand a little too much and tore open a callus. Lesson learned, either have a tight grip or don’t rep the bar. Not particularly bad (no bleeding), but annoying given my whole day is planned around gripping heavy weights and I just started the workout. So I wrapped up with 10 reps at a moderate weight (and got myself a band aid).

I was all squatted out by this point, but it was just the start of my workout day and even with the nap prior to going in to work out I was there way too early so I kept moving on. Lateral pulldowns I did rather heavy, taking a cue from Scott Herman’s youtube back workout videos I tried doing lateral pulldowns near my body weight. I could only really get in about 5 reps @ 145lbs for 3 sets, but it was very good, then did a burn set at a little over half that weight for 16 reps, wrapping up with 3 more reps of 160lbs (which is my body weight, it took some doing to get the bar down that’s for sure).

Did lateral pushdowns (I’ll link the video below on these, a new exercise for me). I had no idea what was good here so I started low and ascended, did a set of 12 at 60lbs, 12 at 80lbs, 10 at 100lbs and 6 reps at 120 lbs. Then descended to two drop sets, 90lbs for 8 reps and 60lbs for 12 reps. That was quite a few reps, but it was a new exercise so I felt I needed to learn the pattern.

A great and fun exercise for back day

Next I did bent over rows, 2 sets of 10 reps at 90lbs then 2 sets of 10 reps at 110lbs (which is the most my preloaded curl bars go up to in the gym). After that T-Bar rows, 3 sets of 70lbs at 8 reps. Doesn’t have to go too heavy you’re only working the upper back with T-bar rows. I did two heavier sets though at 95lbs, one went 6 reps and the other I tried for 6 reps but only hit 5 (landing failure right near the very end of a particular exercise is always a sign you picked a good weight limit for yourself).

Then I did hyperextensions (4 sets, 10 reps each), which honestly is a new workout to me on a rack I’ve seen used in the gym almost every single day and never thought much of. I honestly think one mistake people do with hyperextensions (and if you don’t know what I mean, check out Scott Herman’s video below… yep, he’s a go to guy for back workouts, his back is obscenely strong) is that they often choose weights when really it doesn’t need to go beyond body weight for a lot of people. Having added weight does make it harder, and these can be easy, but you lose the focus on the actual back as you rely on pelvic motion, on hip and arm motions. For instance with weight you’ll brace more of your lower body then pull up well beyond the normal neutral plane of the back, and it’ll just be more a rocking pattern than a real tense back exercise. There are a lot of ways to go wrong here so I like this exercise as it’s done below, and I did it the first time today and this is one of those exercises you really gotta focus on your neurological energy being thrust into your back muscles to bring you back to a neutral stiff plane.

I did these with my arms crossed gripping my shoulders since it was new to me, called it the “Count Dracula” pose

Alright after this I did some back stretches, got some great stretching tips from a friend at the gym she loves lifting weights and clearly understands functional fitness… if you see someone at the gym who has diverse functionality and lifts good and stretches good, always seek them out for advice!

I literally put every ounce of energy I had into this workout and by the end, I was absolutely exhausted. Which is good because I had planned to meet my running partner for a difficult run to make up for all my awful runs earlier this week! Yay…?

I had the good fortune to be done way early so I had 30 minutes to just relax, unwind and frankly sit down before the hard run. It did me good because even though the workout depleted some of my energy stores I had enough to bust out a treadmill jog at my existing 5K personal record pace, if not a little harder, then dragged myself another extra mile for a 4 mile run.

The night ended with me drenched in sweat, spent on every level, which is how every night should end if a man is lucky. Although for different reasons than the night tonight if you catch my drift. Innuendo!

Have a fun time guys and if you want a killer back workout, try what I did tonight. I’ll write it in shorthand in a format you can duplicate so you can even copy it to go try it… how about them apples?

– Warmup (any back rowing motion, light weight)

– Deadlifts (do a warmup set with light weight, then increment weight in 5 rep sets, try to hit your heavier weight by set 3, then do 1-2 more heavy sets or 2-3 drop sets, 5-10 reps as is appropriate for the weight you are on)

– Lateral Pulldowns (3 sets, heavy weight try to match your body weight, do a 4th drop set and maybe a 5th heaviest weight set to failure)

– Lateral Pushdowns (5-6 sets, shoot for a weight level that gives you 6-10 reps)

– Bent over rows (4 sets, aim for 6-10 rep weight, do heavier if need be)

– T-bar rows (5 sets, 5-8 rep sets, try to make at least 2 sets “heavy”)

– Hyperextensions (4 sets of 10 reps, no additional weight, focus on a neutral back do not arch heavily, keep body steady and flex laterals hard on the peak of every rep)

– Cardio 20-30 minutes hard run

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Exercise Log 12.4.13 (Dev Day + Cardio)

Alright trying to keep this log short, today was development day and earlier this week I found my front squat lacking. So I did some online research and found some key points to consider and went to it. As far as syndicating these posts go, if the log is listed like this with details and videos linked, I’m going to post it to my front page and to my Facebook. If not though, and I’m going to try to keep them shorter, I’ll just post them silently to my homepage. So if you’re wondering if I’m still routinely doing these, I absolutely am just being quieter about it.

First for warmups I tried something new, medicine ball squats. I took a medicine ball, held it upright in front of my face like I was about to kiss it, and did some squats with it there. This kept my elbows upright like a front squat, and it also kind of allowed me to squat while checking my form out from the side mirror which was nice. Squatting requires a lot of neurological full body involvement, so to prime myself for this I took the same medicine ball and just spiked it into the ground, which is a great way to prep the neural system to take in the system shock of performing squats.

After about 4 sets of these warmup exercises, I did active side to side stretching and a few other static holds, just to prep myself, then went into the front squatting. I went on super light weight (105lbs) and did countdown reps, which I found online in this video…

I wasn’t badass enough to do each set of these without reracking the weight and taking a breather, even at my light weight level

Anyways that was a hellish way to get started. Then I did try a couple times to rep heavier, 1 rep at 135 then I tried to match my max weight and failed. My penalty for failing (I like to hold myself to a penalty once in a while, because sometimes you gotta show yourself some tough love) was three reps of isometric holding of the front squat bar loaded with my max rep weight for as long as possible. First was a solid 60 seconds, second was 30, third was 60. That’s a lot of pressure to maintain that shelf and clean grip position, and great for the thoracic extension which is a weak point I think in the heavier weight levels of my front squatting.

One form tip that helped a ton today was in this video…

A short video about building a stronger shoulder shelf

My shoulder shelf is strong already, but I lose a little thoracic extension to keep my elbows up when I ascend to press the weight up. This video the female trainer (didn’t catch her name) shows a technique to provide more shoulder torsion by gripping the bar wider and winding the wrists and elbows a bit more. This helped me keep the bar more upright more consistently and did not feel unsafe like I felt it would watching the video, in fact things felt a little more stable. I liked it so I’m gonna keep it for a while, try it out.

After all that I tried and failed to rep beyond my max weight, just to say that I didn’t give up too easily. Then I did did 3 sets of goblet squats at a moderate weight, 10 reps each. To work on my upper back support I did 5 sets of seated rows, 10 reps moderate weight. To add more to my back excercising I did 5 sets of lateral pulldowns at the pulldown machine, and varied the weight levels as I went up and down a bit… the idea of the back focus is to give my upper back more strength to hold the front squat weight upright as I do the ascending motion where I find I keep dipping my elbows, although some of that will just resolve itself with practice I’m sure.

I like to do a core workout usually on developmental day, so I did a nice round of 3 sets of 10 elbow to knee crunches paired with 10 toe touches (upper ab focus) and 10 jackknifes.

On developmental day I like to try new exercises and experiment with them and one I’ve seen for a while that is great for the legs, and may even help my front squat someday, is box jumps. Here is a quick video showing how to do them…

Scott Herman loves the box jump so I thought I’d give it a shot

At my gym my “box” is an adjustable stackable plastic stand, I’m not sure the exact height. All I know is that I stacked 10 of them and did 3 sets of 10 reps and felt good about it. So I went to 11, did another set of 10, still good. Did 10 more at 12 blocks and did 5 reps at 13. I started feeling like I was exceeding my height but stacked a 14th block, but as I went and did a few practice jumps, I could tell it was just barely too high for me to shoot for. I’m not sure how high that officially is for me, but I can keep track of it for future purposes, and I’m sure it’ll help my explosive leg power which is frankly something I never train.

I wrapped up with what was easily the shittiest cardio I’ve had in ages, 1 1/2 miles run rather haggardly. The less said about that the better, maybe the box jumps affected me more than I thought, I don’t know. Just hoping I shake off the dust in time for the next 5K.

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A Critical Examination of the Modern Toy Market

Show and tell time! Ok so I desperately need to post something on my homepage about something besides the usual exercise log, so tonight I’m going to recap a fun time I had toy shopping. The object of my shopping today was to get toys for a Toys for Tots charity thingy, which in and of itself is not blog worthy but I figured if I’m spending hard earned bucks for it that I’m going to get blog material out of it.

First a little back story for me. My mom had way too many kids to financially support with different fathers that for all different reasons did nothing to support any of us, so me and my two siblings grew up with little to no real cash to back us. We often got gifts year to year from church charity toy gathering, the toys were lackluster and we often got crappy board games like chutes & ladders and “Sorry!” back then. My premium toy item my family (usually my great grandmother) would get me was probably the downfall of my childhood – video games – starting first with the original Nintendo Entertainment System and progressing through to the N64-era (after which I was basically an adult and got my own games). However inbetween all this I did have a period in time when I had toys… but not a ton of memorable experiences about them, just a lingering fondness for having a plastic object and some imagination.

My goal tonight was to get out there and shop AS CHEAP AS POSSIBLE because while I can support myself I really don’t have a lot of cash to give out, yet I wanted my contributions to this charity thing to be encapsulating the best parts of my childhood in as little cash investment as possible. Definitely looked for quality over quantity.

So to start my quest I pulled up to the local Toys R’ Us, having not shopped at one of these seriously for, well, ever. I don’t have kids (even though the idea of having one or two in the future is appealing maybe) and I don’t really get big into gift giving holidays (my family has been in a different state for over a decade, and I like it like that for now). So entering this place and just taking it in was difficult because the jealousy of how many toy options kids have these days was completely overwhelming. There was indeed a ton of cool things… but most was prohibitively expensive. So my quest to find frugal and sentimental toy items began!


So the first item I’m going to highlight is a no brainer. Wiffle ball and big plastic bat, right around $5. I don’t know about you but I remember just derping around when I was a kid in the back yard, playing with random toys and could’ve been entertained for hours with something like this. The ball is light enough to just throw up if nobody wants to throw it with you, but when you smack it, it won’t go really too far due to being just a light plastic thing. Practical, functional, cheap… things like this is what my childhood was about… just stuff to keep myself amused while in the back yard.


My second item to discuss here is a SUPER LEGIT AWESOME one. One of my favorite series to this day is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and TMNT is classic as a franchise because the four ninja turtles characterize wide-sweeping personality archetypes. Really everyone knows someone like one of the turtles, or like all of them. Also you always tend to identify with one of the four characters most. Me, I was kind of a bland kid and I liked Leonardo, he was the leader, he had badass swords, and he knew how to take charge… he was intelligent but not a complete nerd like Donatello, more wise than anything else. Plus stuff like this just reminds me of all the other classic 80’s/early 90’s cartoons, all of which were basically franchising toy lines. Kid these days just deserve crass commercialism in the shape of badass toy action figures.

Some of you may not know but Nickelodeon plays yet another new TMNT cartoon… I’m not sure if it’s the fourth or fifth completely new original series based on the turtles but it’s definitely getting up there. I actually watch it routinely on DVR because it’s not a bad show, and I was surprised to find these action figures from the current run on sale (it’s the post-Black Friday holiday shopping weekend so I was hoping to find some good deals like this) for only $8.


One thing I did spend a lot of time with as a kid was Lego’s. In fact, there is a cool new Lego movie coming out soon that I look forward to seeing. Even as an adult me and my roommate Xavier went to a Lego convention back in Portland, OR about a decade ago that was a very rememberable experience. Anyways, when I would spend time playing with Lego’s they’d be little communities of Lego people. Usually they’d do mundane things like trade fictional currency (usually in the form of tiny bricks) and band together to fight off MASSIVE INVADING EVIL ROBOTS that would eventually get busted up and fall all over themselves.

There were a lot of options in the Lego section, but man Legos are NOT cheap. They are a mint and I kind of had to go small if I wanted to stay within the theme of being as cheap as possible. However I had to get a Lego product if I was to do any justice to this journey whatsoever, so I picked out this one. Simple is as can be, two Lego figures (a cop and a robber) with a car and a wheelbarrow full of jewels. Very usable with any existing Lego collection and one of the biggest things I always wanted/needed was people figures when I had Legos, and this one has two Lego people right in it. Was still kind of spendy at $13, and probably is a choking hazard for children under 3, but you can never really go wrong with adding Legos to a kid’s collection… it’s the essence of imagination based entertainment.


Alright this was my value bargain find of the day that was completely amazing to me personally. When I was a kid the nerf craze was new and big but there wasn’t a ton of availability for a poor family to come into the quantity of nerf gear required to have a real fun time with friends. So this type of a toy was the kind I envied.

It is surprisingly detailed as a toy, most Nerf products you just pump and shoot. This one has shotgun-shell like “darts”, an ammo clip and a reloading chamber you gotta twist and pump to shoot. The limited ammo means you gotta make your shots count… plus it just looks badass. I mean look at it, don’t you want to just stand down an army of cops with this thing? Well probably not, but something like this just makes the imagination run wild, and that really was the fondest part of me being a kid.

Plus, aparently this type of toy is commonplace because it was on clearance for only $10. I really had a hard time believing this thing exists, sort of makes me feel like my childhood just happened in the wrong era. Easy snag.

So different elements of my childhood all encapuslated in about $30 of toys. I felt really good about the choices and definitely had a fun time checking all this out, so I thought I’d share! Hope you guys all get a moment to go shopping down at the toy shop this year if for no reason but to relive some of your own fond memories. Enjoy your holidays!

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Exercise Log 11.28.13 (YMCA Turkey Trot 5-Mile)

Quick log of today’s run, which was the only real workout I got in today due to the gym being closed early on Thanksgiving. Today was the annual Turkey Trot 5-mile race downtown to raise funds for the YMCA, which I think was pretty cool. The day was dry but cold, painfully cold, maybe 20 degrees.

A handful of picks on my Flickr of me, Ryan and Trish at the race can be found here

Part of what I did today was figure out what it takes to run in the coldness. I dressed in layers, I had to do it on the cheap with what I owned but the YMCA helped by providing a nice long sleeved overshirt. So I slapped on a standard gym sweat wicking shirt, put a thin cotton t-shirt on after, put on the long sleeved YMCA shirt and over it slapped a random t-shirt from an old run. Wore my hoodie, a winter cap and some new light gloves. For bottom pants, I wore my awesome Under Armor leggings, very light gym sweat pants and my work khakis to act as kind of wind breakers.

All said that’d sound like I was ridiculously overdressed, but it was about 15-20 degrees out. About 2 miles in, when my toes started being feelable again and my body was naturally heating itself, I easily slipped the hoodie off and tied it around my waist and hiked up the arms of my shirt. I realize really that it doesn’t really matter how you dress so long as you have a plan to cool off as you go. Some people strip off excess disposable shirts, others just go wearing far too little and deal with the cold, personally I’d rather go wearing too much and need to remove something than go wearing too little and just be unbearably cold for the first half of the race.

As for pace, I did manage something close to my 5K pace, my chip time for the 5 mile run was 42:30, finished 71st in my age range (30-34) and in the 500’s overall. I felt that was okay given the size of the race it was a pretty massive crowd (over 7000 showed between the different events, over 1500 ranked as finishing in the 5 mile race alone). Most importantly as I went I had a distinct feeling of passing a good chunk of most of the crowd as I raced and that’s always motivating.

I burned 728 calories, definitely enough to justify the ridiculous breakfast I had afterwards. My average heart rate BPM was 175 and peak was 187 (!), definitely pushed myself a little hard just because I felt a bit of a thrill passing people. All said though I didn’t necessarily pass that many people… the race just was huge so it seemed like a lot of people as I went. Honestly the crowd size was itself a bit of a challenge to deal with just negotiating the people and maintaining a high heart rate was itself a hassle. It definitely requires a lot of sprinting back and forth to pass people on the road and maintain your pace once you realize you’re getting stuck behind a wall of slow movers.

Fun times, but it would’ve been more fun if the gym was open to do some deadlifts afterwards! Ah well I guess everyone needs a break from the rigamarole sometimes. Enjoy your Thanksgivings people!

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Exercise Log 11.27.13 (Dev Day + Cardio)

Quick log for today’s workout, I’m renaming Ab & Fun day as “Developmental” day because my real focus tends to be workouts that build on those from other workout days, and in the absence of any good workouts I do core exercises.

So for today’s developmental day I figured I’d wind up getting a forced rest day in somewhere due to the holidays, and figured chest day was a couple days out at least due to that, so I decided to do some bench press exercises. I did declined, inclined then flat all about 5 sets but extra volume and somewhat lighter weight, focusing on form and development of the press. Some rep sets went as high as 16 reps, a common volume for rep counts per set went something like 16, 12, 12, 8, 8 for most of it. I went up and down as suited me. Did match my personal best on the bench pressing so felt good about that.

Not wanting to overdevelop my pushing motion I decided to work out my upper back and rear deltoids with a couple exercises too, one was a new one which was fun, a body row, which is basically a pull motion that is the opposite function of the bench press. It is good especially with upper body exercises to pair reverse motions because it helps prevent dysfunction in the thoracic spine that can lead to posture and functional stability issues in other kinds of lifts.

A quick video showing a body row, I did not have elevated feet but basically did it like this off our power rack

So this was great did 4 sets of that and found it somewhat difficult, will integrate it into chest/shoulder day. Also did seated rows with declining weight (heavy to light) for 5 sets.

For cardio I have a big run coming up tomorrow morning, 5 mile run to support the YMCA in the freezing ass cold, and I haven’t run much this week so I needed to get some kind of run in, so I opted for a moderate (6.5mph) pace for 2 1/2 miles figured that’d be a very good way to rev up my engines for tomorrow’s longer run.

All said today was pretty fun, and I feel like I’ll have a better bench press day in the future thanks for the work done today.

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Exercise Log 11.24.13 (Rest Day Thoughts)

Quick moment to sit down and leave some thoughts about fitness progress, I’m on my second day of rest and anytime I spend this much time not at the gym I feel like I need to dedicate some time at least thinking about the gym. Working in retail my next week will be hectic I doubt I will get some good exercise in, but I will be going to do a long run downtown in the freezing abysmal cold so that should count for something.

As for physical progress while I am slowly seeing gains in strength categories I feel like nothing is drastically different just yet. My weight has not changed (still 160lbs) and while I definitely do see muscle growth, functional strength is still taking time to show. I know from basic research that muscle development takes a long time to settle in and that my realistic expectations to be where I want to be are really 2-3 years away at least, if not longer really.

One thing that may be limiting potential growth is my clean bulk, I’m definitely trying to consume the required quantities of protein to grow but I am not overconsuming to any real degree just because hey, I like not being fat. My skin from the fat loss never cinched up and honestly I want to stay skinny long enough that it does. As an aside, I think I am losing body fat today I went to cinch my waist belt and found myself trying to shoot for two holes in on my belt loop that don’t exist. So I must be doing okay in that category.

As for strength, I feel now very comfortable with my rotation of compound lifts. I have increased my pull-ups and my back strength is really turning around. I think one of the things I notice most in the last month of strength training is neuromuscular improvement especially in the back… when I go to flex laterals and scapula adductors I really *feel* the muscle involvement more. Neurological energy is a very vital part of strength I find and it is very much about training yourself mentally to engage your body the right way, much more than I ever suspected it was in the past.

Alright so about a month ago I did a rest day thoughts post like this and I set some goals, I’m pretty happy with the goals themselves still so I’m going to jot down some current progress based on my last few logs worth of activity. I think I’ve made some good improvement for just one month’s time.

Goal & Progress Log (last update Oct. 31st)

Deadlift of 400lbs (current max 245lbs) +20lbs
Front squat of 200lbs (current max 135lbs) no change
Back squat of 250lbs (current max 170lbs) +15lbs
Bench press of 185lbs (current max 145lbs) +30lbs
5K pace 23:30 (PR 23:58) +44 second improvement, new goal set

Log stats: Since Oct 31st I’ve had 18 workout days (1 of which was cardio only), 6 rest days. I’ve completed 4 exercise rotations. I also revised my routine workout rotation by swapping days to allow me to focus better on compound lifting and recovery. I’ve had no change in overall body weight.

A quick note is that I’ve decided for runs longer than 5K I am not interested in competitive pacing, all I care about is just enjoying the run. For the half marathon next spring my main goal is to have a sustainable pace that will let me run the whole thing without feeling like I need to break for long rest periods, I’m not going to spend a lot of time thinking about optimizing my pace in such a way as to have the “best” time… I like the competitive aspect, but the half marathon is just too long to feel like I need to do that. So I’ve removed keeping track of my half marathon pace from the goal list.

Okay, so in short I feel good with where I’m at, tomorrow is Leg Day so hoping to do some good squats and maybe try to break my front squat weight which is the only thing not yet improved over the last month. We’ll see!

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Exercise Log 11.22.13 (Chest Day, No Cardio)

Quick log of today’s chest & shoulder workout, skipped doing the usual cardio after. After warmups I got straight into the bench press, did declined for 3 sets with 2 drop sets, then inclined for 3 sets and 1 drop set (wasn’t feeling good on the inclined bench for some reason). Weight levels were fairly normal just focused on form and intensity. I couldn’t do the flat bench press after these because they were all in use, so went to dumbbell chest presses from the floor for 4 sets.

After this I got back to the flat bench press and although I felt good, I didn’t hit any new peaks. On set 3 I tried a standard 135lbs, and failed on the 8th rep, so dropped into three drop sets (one drop set at a light weight then a last drop set at a super light weight) instead of trying to match or beat my previous press of 145lbs… the drop sets really added a great burn. After this I did some dumbbell flys, then some suspension rope exercises. I learned the suspension rope chest exercises from Scott Herman’s channel in the linked video…

Skip to 8:16 to see the cable flys and presses mentioned

I liked these as a finishing exercise and then did a set of the bent over single arm cable presses he showed in the video (I affectionately refer to these and toddler punches, pretending that a small child was in front of me as I pressed the cable down and my goal was to knock him in the head… not sure why but it worked) for 4 sets then went with a superset of the middle cable chest fly and a lower chest fly bringing the rope down towards my waist inward, reps of 10 at a modest weight, 4 sets.

My shoulder workout is very similar to this workout Scott Herman also has on his channel, purely a coincidence though I made my shoulder workout plan before seeing these videos honestly these exercises are just logical for a shoulder workout plan…

A great shoulder workout routine

So what I did was similar, dumbbell military presses (4 sets), dumbbell lateral raises superset with dumbbell front raises (4 sets, this video helped me on my form), I did overhead barbell trap shrugs instead of standard ones and felt they were better, I highly suggest these for trap development you don’t even have to go heavy on the weight, overhead though you feel the contraction so much better than just doing the belligerently heavy standard shrugs…

One of the best kept trap secrets

Then I wrapped up with reverse flys on the lateral fly machine (4 sets, moderate weight) and of course innies & outties superset with push-ups (10 reps each motion, 3 sets).

Pretty good day I think and productive, also gave me an excuse to link some videos. I will probably have a very inactive fitness week next week so I will (probably) be sparing you a lot of these logs but we’ll see, I somehow managed to sneak in workouts here and there when possible so we’ll see how I do next week!

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Exercise Log 11.16.13 (Chest & Shoulder Day + Cardio)

Well aside from feeling like I want to just die, I had a very productive workout day today. Got a new pair of shoes (as mentioned before Reebok Crossfit Nano 2.0’s) and wanted to see how they’d hold up on a long run. Which is suitable because the weather was great and I won’t get a lot of days like this before it becomes unbearably cold.

These shoes have flat soles, meant to accommodate for lifting, which gives a more natural barefoot running style. The comfort level is not super high though, so I was speculating how it’d go. Anyways I beat the pavement from Frick park down the Greater Allegheny Passage and back 11.2 miles total. I felt like the shoes gave me a lot of great traction up hills, great stability down hills. On flat straightaways I got good movement but the comfort level wasn’t very high. I will say though by the end of the run, my feet felt fine, and if I can run over 11 miles and not feel overly sore/uncomfortable than any minor discomforts can just be ignored. I felt like my performance was good and it gave me a benchmark to shoot for with next year’s half marathon. As mentioned in the previous update, the shoes were great for my weightlifting, so I think I made the right shoe choice.

Wasn’t a picture run but I still took a handful of snaps

I thought it was really cool I passed the bald eagle sanctuary and actually saw the bald eagle out, which was awesome. I couldn’t get a good shot of it though. The day was absolutely gorgeous, and if anything my only regret was adding too many layers of clothing for the run for fear of awful coldness. Which itself was a good thing to get out and experience because knowing just how I need to dress for upcoming runs in the coldness is important.

Run stats: 11.2 miles in 2 hrs 9 mins, burned 1716 calories, heart rate average 153 bpm max 172 bpm.

That said running that far doesn’t excuse me from having a complete weightlifting workout as well… but it did take a big bite out of my energy level. Today was chest & shoulders, first I did chest warmups then I did bench pressing. Per the usual I hit the declined, inclined and flat bench presses all 3 sets with incrementing weight followed by a 4th burn set afterwards (sometimes 5th if I felt the burn set didn’t get enough reps in). My final set on the flat bench press I was aiming for a sub-optimal press of about 135lbs and failed on rep 5, was aiming for 6 reps. I had to do the roll of shame which honestly was good practice anyways. Kept the intensity pretty high as I swapped between the bench press benches pretty quick. Then I did dumbbell flys, dumbbell chest presses from the floor (4 sets, 55lbs which is pretty heavy for me, reps of 8-7-6-6), declined dumbbell flys, and one armed cable crossover chest flys.

At no point during the chest workout did I really decide to push to an extreme just because the run really drained me, but I felt like I pushed myself hard. I did a light shoulder workout too, a triple set of 10 reps each of side raises, front raises and reverse dumbbell flys with a light set of dumbbells. Then I did trap shrugs (4 sets of 8 reps incremented weight on the last set), what I’d consider heavy military presses (80lb curl bar, 3 sets of 8), then finally 3 sets of my usual innies & outties (10 reps) superset with pushups (12 reps). The pushups are the best test of how shoulder and chest day went, and honestly I failed pushups on set 2 and had to drag myself to get through set 3. So I chalk today up as a win as I go to bed, I only hope I consumed enough food today to adequately replenish my body.

I’m not sure I should do a workout tomorrow after the hard workouts today and yesterday, but we’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

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Exercise Log 11.15.13 (Back Day + Cardio)

Today was back day and I just got back from a great workout, figured I’d jot it down like usual. I didn’t have a ton of time to stay in the gym, was meeting up with friends after, maybe had 2 hours but it was enough.

First did warmups which for me is just a lateral rowing machine for back. Then I decided to do bent over rows, 4 sets, incremented weight 90lb to 110lbs (two sets at 110lbs). The key workout of back day is deadlifts, so I did 2 sets of 5 reps at a light weight fairly quick, then 2 sets of 5 reps at a heavier weight, then I did my 5th set at my max weight (for me 225lbs). I felt good by the time this set was done, so I decided to shoot for a personal best and rep 245lbs, and unlike last time I didn’t just rack the bar and stare at it, I managed to succeed and deadlift it twice, then did a third rep just to be sure I had a grasp on it. The third rep was MIGHTY ugly though, wasn’t happy with the form there.

One step at a time
Hey you don’t learn to walk without taking those first steps, these are mine

To hit this point I tried to integrate yet another core strengthening technique to my lift pattern, and I spent a lot of time just doing practice lifts. Anyways this one is about holding down air with your core, and using that to make things tighter. That combined with the previous technique (hyper irradiation) I talked about, and possibly also the use of lifting shoes (I got me a new pair of Reebok Crossfit Nano 2.0’s) helped me get past my limit to the next level tonight. It might not be a huge level, but it’s a level nonetheless. Anyways here is the video about the technique.

Elliot Hulse explains hydraulic breathing, to strengthen the core, tried this and it helped!

I wanted to go one step even higher, so I racked up 265lbs, failed enough times I tried 255lbs and failed there although I felt close to getting it, I didn’t want to pull anything making that little extra oomph… maybe next time. I then dropped the weight to a light weight again and banged out a burn set.

That done, I did some T-bar rows to get the pressure away from my lower back, I went and did some pull-ups (7 rep sets wide gripped for 2-4 reps then finishing off with chin-ups, 4 sets). Then I did some seated rows (moderate weight, 3 sets of 10, incremented the weight on the final pull). Fearing I had forgotten something I did one armed dumbbell rows (3 sets, 10 reps, moderate-light weight).

For cardio I decided to try out my new shoes with a fast paced 2 mile hard run. Will take some getting used to but made it through, the new shoes are flatter footed so there are pros and cons. Pros is better tactile response with the running surface. Cons is it’ll take a lot of adjustment to find them comfortable. I had a sprint near the end where I felt like I kept really good running form which was cool.

That’s it, will report on how the next day goes all I know is tonight my back is thoroughly worked.

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