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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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Trying Yoga

So I went to my first yoga class today (this was a “yoga flow” class taught for free to help fund donations for a local library). As a newbie to the fitness world I know that class based activities are very popular and yoga, zumba, spinning classes are those types of things that I see happen but generally have no interest in. Of course ladies are more interested because it appeals to a feminine nature. However as I’ve worked out, I’ve noticed I have a weakness in my routine – stretching. I do not really do good stretching, nor do I do hardly any breathing exercises and in general my day and week is high stress.

Yoga pairs out to fix a lot of those things by offering a time to sit down and just do relaxing stretching and controlled breathing. I think these things offer a lot of health benefits. However the crux of yoga is just as you’d figure, it’s contrived. It’s made out to be more than it is because it has a background in spiritualism and meditation. Meditation is a good thing for a person to do don’t get me wrong, but I don’t believe it has a spiritual purpose. A lot of the aesthetics of yoga are just that… aesthetics. Like I don’t need to know if I’m doing the fire shakra warrior pose, nor do I want to make a silly shape with my hand, I just want to know where my feet and hands are supposed to go to get the stretch and relaxation.

That said, I don’t write off new experiences for little flaws like that, and I need the stretching in my life. Even the relaxing moments I need that too. So off to yoga class it was. First thing I noticed was I really didn’t want to participate in the class really after I got the mat unrolled and laid down for the first time… I really kind of wanted to go to sleep. That said, I got up and went through a series of gestures. One thing I didn’t like about it first off was the gestures had contrived names like they were powerful spiritual poses. I kind of wish they had more technical names. Again though, aesthetics are not important.

I did feel like a good number of the exercises were very vital in that they stretched out areas I consider real key to my personal routines. I have an old hamstring injury that never healed up, and a few stretches really worked that in. Also my lower back, which was a little sore and strained from the deadlifting these last couple weeks, got a very nice stretch from one of the exercises we did repeatedly. Several of the exercises focused on opening up my hips, which is VERY important for squatting. I really went gung ho in these exercises and felt like it really was very nice.

The other main element of the class was breathing. Everything was paced to be done at breathing intervals and we had a few breathing exercises. I really felt it was great to pace and control myself in this way. Breathing is an often neglected aspect of fitness but controlling it has a big impact in performance. I’m not sure if the breathing exercises really helped in any real way, but I felt like they were the right focus and it really complimented the stretches and helped me really feel relaxed. So I really enjoyed that element of it.

So all in all 4 out of 5 was my experience. It was functionally sound stretching (I’m convinced the stretches will help not just my squats but also my deadlifts and my legs in general), fun breathing and relaxing. It was a little unnecessary on the pomp and circumstance of the routine names and the unnecessary spiritualism, but that was fine and forgivable. So I had a fun time and will definitely make this a part of my routine (when possible). It was after all, free… can’t complain about the price. However if someone ever invents a stretching class that is focused on weightlifters that has no elements of spiritualism or symbolism in general, I will ditch this for that instead.

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Exercise Log 11.11.13 (Leg Day + Cardio)

No day is ever quite as satisfying as leg day. I was feeling a little under the weather today like I’m on the verge of getting sick, and I figure it’s a good time to link yet another video this time from Elliot Hulse on how to prevent sickness…

Don’t wanna get sick? Be a pussy!

So I want to just take things easy just to prevent any lingering ill feelings from being full blown under the weather. That said I wasn’t going to skip my leg workout my first thing was just giving myself a little more time and take it a little easier between sets.

So after warmups I did 4 sets of split squat deadlifts, instead of doing my regular dread march series of heavy dumbbell lunges. This was actually pretty nice as a change of pace. Then after that I hit up back squatting while still near the rack. This rack was the open squat rack without adjustable side bars so my squatting was not quite “ass to the ground” like usual, but for back squatting I felt it was sufficiently low. I started kind of heavy for 3 sets and I realized my core and back work and my practice on grip and various squats throughout the week were paying off because I felt good about where I was at. So I went for 170lbs, squatted it twice and wasn’t 100% on the form so I racked it for a second then gave it a third squat, and felt like I did good. I could’ve gone for more maximum exertion, but as the video above says taking a step back sometimes is better, so I did my burn set next and called it a day on back squatting.

Next I decided I could use a sit down somewhere, and decided to hit up the vertical leg press, and thankfully the big rack vertical leg press machine was open.

Imma gonna press it
Unracking this thing is starting to become a chore

So I worked my way up from a moderate weight to a heavy weight over 3 sets, supersetting of course with calve raises. Then on my fourth set I decided to go gung ho and rack 8 plates on each side – 720lbs – plus the sled weight. I won’t say I pressed this much weight with the best from or deepest angles… I admit at some point I felt like I had to resist using my arms to support my legs… but I did 5 reps that satisfied me at that heaviest weight then did 5 reps of calve raises to boot.

I wanted to vary up leg day a little bit do some more calm leg exercises so I decided to work in some romanian or stiff-legged style deadlift, particularly very hamstring-isolating like this type demonstrated below by Scooby…

Good morning!

So I grabbed a 90lb curl bar and went to it for four sets, taking my time between sets. Felt very good at this point in the workout but the weight floor was a little busy so I wound up doing some leg adductors/abductors (3 sets, moderate weight in each machine) and then I did heavy glute hip extensions on the hip extension machine. One problem with the hip extension machine at my gym is the rubber pad at the bottom of the weight stack has a little bit of suction which is frustrating to press when you’re pressing through the weight plus that extra vacuum. So I went down one plate and upped the rep count to 3 reps each leg, and did 5 reps of 3 back and forth, 3 sets total (so each leg pressed the weight stack 45 times).

Felt pretty good there but really wanted to do a few front squats. Since I set a personal best with the vertical press and the back squat, and I definitely needed to still take it easy, I did not push myself too hard on front squatting but I did focus a lot on form and I felt really good about my form. I did the same as usual 5 sets of 5, one with straps as my primary way to grip the bar, one with a clean grip, up the weight and then repeat two sets one with straps one without, then final set being with a clean grip at a heavier weight. Then a drop set to wrap up.

Again I feel like I forgot something and I probably did but I felt pretty good… taking it easy today meant making this hour or so workout into a 2 1/2 hour workout but so be it, I had fun. Then afterwards I went ahead and did a half hour brisk walking pace on the treadmill, I don’t like to run on leg day don’t want to put too much strain on the legs after the workout. This was nice and relaxing as well.

I did my first yoga class tonight but I’ll break that into a separate update.

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Breakfast of Champions! (pt. 1)

My favorite breakfast, about 400 calories, 50g of protein, 12g of carbs and 17g of mono/poly fats, buckets of vitamins and nutrients for only approximately $2.20. Best way to start the day!

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Exercise Log 11.9.13 (Chest & Shoulder Day + Cardio)

Today was chest day, and it took quite a lot out of me to make it happen. After work I had lunch because there wasn’t a good time spaced out in the day to do lunch after the workout, and after lunch I crashed for yet another nap. The naptimes have been hitting me hard lately especially around time to go to the gym, but a policy of mine is to listen to my body when it speaks to me, so if it needs to nap I let it nap. Snoozing in the car for 30 minutes left me a little groggy, but I got sluggishly started on chest/shoulder day.

After warmups I hit the bench press. Did this early today just in case the weight floor was busy (it wasn’t), I use the declined/inclined/flat benches so by starting them first I can just knock out whatever is available and do another workout while waiting for others to free up. First I hit the inclined, which is my preference because if I fail a set here it’s easy to recover (the incline is almost seated up so all I have to do is set the bar into my lap and pick it up if I fail a rep). Started with light weight, then moderate weight then I did a heavy press (for this angle 135lbs was heavy for me) and it worked for two reps. Did it again for one rep just to be sure I had a grip on it and it felt pretty good. Finally finished with a drop set at light weight for a little burn.

Next the declined bench… the declined bench scares me a little because I just don’t know what to do leaning back like I am if I fail a press. So I’m very conservative on weights and like to do this one while I’m still feeling fresh. I went up to 125lbs max and only I think 8 reps, after doing two solid sets of 10 reps at 95 & 115lbs. Then a drop set at a light weight.

After this I was ready for the flat bench press. I do the inclined and declined bench press to work on the angled muscles of my chest, the standard flat bench press is where I actually care how much I can press and how well, where it all should come together, and tonight I felt it did. After 3 sets I tried to press a max for me and did it, hit 145lbs, which was the weight level I failed at the previous visit. Keep in mind I’m brand new to bench pressing and my first day of learning to do it, I only hit 115lbs and that was only two weeks ago! So I’m feeling pretty good there and feeling like I’m learning. Didn’t celebrate too much knocked out a pair of burn sets afterwards at lighter weight to reinforce the pattern.

I did a quick set of dumbbell flies next on a regular bench. Started at 30lbs and moved up to 35lbs over 4 sets. Felt pretty good. Then I did some hip presses for chest and triceps with 40lbs which I feel is a good weight for me right now for 3 sets.

So now that this was all done I took some heavier dumbbells (60lb) and did floor chest presses, which are easily my favorite chest exercise. I had a solid first set of 8 presses, but by set two I was failing to even get to 6, and by set 3 I was having a hard time even doing 3. I persisted with another set of a handful, I think 4-5, before giving up and going to 50lbs. At 50lbs, I pounded out a couple solid sets, call that my drop/burn set tonight I guess. I wasn’t quite done, I did some dumbbell flies on the declined bench after this at 30lbs which is a little heavier than the usual 25lbs. Then I felt good about my chest so I swapped to shoulders.

Shoulders was pretty easy, I did dumbbell shoulder flys (4 sets, moderate weight with a little heavier on the final set), then I sat down and did some dumbbell presses (4 sets again with incremented weight, kind of rolled over from the weight level I ended at from the flys). Then I did a superset of side raises and front raises, this is a light weight exercise but it makes me feel good so I do it. Chest day works shoulders a lot so I feel like doing shoulders on chest day doesn’t require too much. I wanted to hit traps but the trap machine was in demand, so instead I did barbell shrugs which I felt was a real nice way to work traps. I know there are better ways to work traps than shrugs but I’m trying to limit myself to what is convenient in the gym. I find my max deadlift weight is a good weight to top out at for barbell trap shrugging. I haven’t linked a video in this whole spamfest of exercises here, entertain yourself with a youtube video of Scott Herman demonstrating the barbell trap shrug!

It’s kind of an obvious exercise really just focus on the trap contraction

Anyways that was a real great workout for three sets. I feel like I’m forgetting an exercise, but I spent so much damn time at the gym doing all this I kind of lose track. I know my last workout was innies & outties with pushups, and like last time I started to struggle on pushups by the end of my third set which to me says my shoulders & chest were properly worked out.

Well, cardio is always a chore especially when your running partner sets a high bar. As an egotistical and probably insecure man I feel like I should never allow myself to be beaten by a lady when at all possible, so I was more or less obligated to push myself on cardio today. She ran 6 miles today so I felt like I had to as well, so I got outside found a nice and well lit running route around a nearby high school and just did laps, which took me up and down a decent hill, each lap was a little over a mile. It was a fantastic night for a run a cool breeze and I was pretty snug with my new Under Armor coldgear leggings… just saying they’re an awesome product… kind of pissed I couldn’t really find something to take some nice photos of because the night was gorgeous. Hit 6 miles and then ran back to the car to top out at 6.6, definitely didn’t break any speed records tonight in fact my pace was abysmal (11 min/mile) but my longer run goals are less for time and more just for form and completion. I gotta complete a half marathon in the spring without killing myself that’s what’s on my mind… and I’m not trying to compete for time in that really I’m just looking to participate and enjoy it.

Alright, overall the math says I’m fricken tired as all hell. Sunday will probably be a rest day and Monday will be a workout plus my first yoga class because man I am not stretching enough. Plus it’s free! Hope it’ll be fun. Will update with what that experience is like as you can probably figure!

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Exercise Log 11.8.13 (Back Day + Cardio)

Achievement unlocked: get a good back workout! Today was back day at the gym, which is an awesome day. After warmups I hit the good ol’ bent over rows, did 8 reps of 90lbs, 8 more with 100, and two sets of 8 with 110lbs which is the biggest curl bar available. Then I decided today to do deadlifting fresh, so started with light weight and did two sets of 5 opposing grip deadlifts. Then two sets of 5 with a more “normal” rep weight.

Then I went into doing deadlifts at the weight level I generally have problems, which is currently 225lbs. To my surprise, I aced the set of 5 and plowed through it without major issue. I did up the weight to 245lbs to try for a personal record, but after three attempts I failed out and decided to finish deadlifting with a burn set at a medium weight for two more sets of 6. This was really good I thought as my legs were still feeling pretty worn out from the big day of squats a couple days previous.

I didn’t break any personal records today, but this is absolutely how I felt doing deadlifts today, grunting and all…

Scott Herman activates Super Saiyan levels of power to break his personal deadlift records… this is how every good deadlift exercise feels! Don’t believe me? Try it yourself!

Feeling pretty good, I decided to do some one armed dumbbell rows, 60lb for 3 sets and 65lbs for the last set. Then I hit the T-bar rows, two sets of 10 with medium weight and one set of 8 with heavy. Tried to slow my tempo here to get a deeper burn. Then I went and did seated rows, preferring going heavy for a few sets then did a couple drop sets.

Then to wrap everything up I did some pull-ups. Now believe it or not, pull-ups are my weakest link in my entire exercise routine. They are a great standard exercise but I went into all this lifting before building the strength needed to do real good pull-ups. If you’re a beginner with pull-ups, I suggest watching this video by Scooby…

Scooby tells you in 5 phases how to build up your pull-up strength

Anyways, the way I do pull-ups is now that I can do a couple unassisted, I do regular wide gripped pull-ups to failure (sometimes only 2-3 reps) then I do chin-ups which are easier to round out 7 reps. Well today the first two sets were kind of haggared and not doing well, but around set three with a little bit of fiddling my body just “realized” how to use my back in a better way and I did a bunch of unassisted wide gripped pullups. Some of it was me using my tension to cheat a little, admittedly, which got me swaying a bit but some of it was just fully contracting the laterals. I don’t know if it was the workout today, or the practice, or what but for whatever reason I did a better job of it on set three than I ever had before. I felt so good, I went for another round.

I feel like my body learned how to use itself more properly today, and it felt good. I decided to celebrate by trying out a long run to check my pacing for my upcoming 5 miler. I did keep a lower pace and gassed out on a couple points, but I completed a 5 mile run after all this work… and let me say, the deadlifting plus the squatting from two days ago put a surprising strain on my glutes and hamstrings so I was not 100%… and I felt like I had a good 5 mile run on the treadmill today. So all in all said, excellent workout day all around I’m excited and pumped and that’s what it’s all about!

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Fall ’13 Frick Park Picture Tour

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Exercise Log 11.2.13 (Run for Sight 5K & Back Day)

Well today was a pretty awesome day, got out in the morning to the Pitcairn area for a small time 5K on a fairly flat course, was expecting to set my personal record today and bump it up a notch, how did I do?

Flickr gallery: A run with the Monroeville Lions club

So the race attendance was very small, not a lot of runners, and the course was fairly flat and easy. The weather was perfect, which was complimented by the fact that I picked up some nice Under Armor Coldgear leggings to keep extra warm for the winter… best investment ever. That said, my expected time based on treadmill tests and pacing was right around 24:00, which was better than my time at Boyce Park which was 24:42. So I did finish under my expectation by a hair, 23:55 was the official result, and I really had a great time doing it. I was still more than a leg behind the other guys who finished earliest, but the men my age I was third. My running buddy also set her PR and finished third in her age group, which was pretty awesome! I set an average heart rate of 176, with a peak of 182, meaning I did push myself harder overall but not quite to peak. In my Flickr photo set linked in the pic above I took a pic of the 3rd place mug I got, because I’m awesome like that.

Then after that I decided to get my back workout in. I’m trying to create a more limited weight lifting routine I feel like I may go 10-15mins too long sometimes, but also try to go heavier on the weights. So after warming up my back, I went into bent over rows (2 sets of 10 reps at 90lb, 2 sets of 10 reps at 100lb, 1 set of 8 reps at 110lb). Then I did dumbbell one armed rows (3 sets of 10 reps at 65lb, 1 set of 8 reps at 70lbs).

The primary exercise in back day is deadlifting, if you guys read my blog you know I’m trying to improve my deadlift. I had a rough time I’d say, underperformed a little, but I learned from it I think. Today I tried a new weightlifting technique – hyper irradiation – as explained in the video below…

Elliot Hulse explains hyper irradiation

I would say it was helpful to know, but I did hit a wall again at my personal max at 225lbs (last time I think I did 4 at that weight) I only did one rep at that weight then just couldn’t budge it, and the only way I did it was I had one solid lift with this new “hyper irradiation” technique. I might’ve been fatigued, that attempt was after 2 full sets of 10 reps at incremented weights before the attempt and all the previous workouts (usually deadlifts are #2 on my list because I want my back to be fresh for them, but the weight room was ridiculous today so I didn’t get in right when I was hoping to). To finish off deadlifts I dropped the weight to 205lbs, and then doing 4 more reps for an even package of 25 total reps. Even these were hard. Deadlifting is definitely a challenge for me but I feel like I’m learning. I am seriously considering getting Crossfit-style shoes which should help in these kinds of lifts over my cheap running/training shoe I currently wear.

After the deadlifts were over, I did two exercises for my good ol’ scapula adductors. One was T-bar rows, second was seated rows. I could have done more, but I’m trying to keep myself from overtraining and listen to my body more, and my body said my back was good and worked out. So that was it!

My next cardio goal: prepare for longer runs by setting a more even, tempered pace that will hopefully be appropriate for the spring’s half marathon. Will start that on Thanksgiving with a 5 miler, and maybe sometime over the winter of a 10K or something else longer. I didn’t break my deadlifting goal today, but I did get to the max rep and did one clean one, and that alone made me feel pretty good, so I’ll take it.

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Exercise Log 11.1.13 (Ab & Fun Day, No Cardio)

Just a quick log of tonight’s short exercise. I’m still resting up from arm day, tricep day was actually super effective and my triceps still hurt, so going to the gym for chest day (after tricep work) is out of the question… just requires too much triceps for most chest pressing exercises and I don’t want to risk injury. Back day was out of the question too, I have a 5K tomorrow. I’m not screwing up my whole rotation by bumping up leg day this far either. One thing I skipped though was ab & fun day, so I decided to make up for it with a little bit of that.

First I decided to try a new exercise by making a makeshift roman chair. Recently Mike Chang of the Six Pack Shortcuts Youtube channel highlighted this interesting and simple piece of exercise gear. It’s one of the simplest ab workouts ever… lean back and automatically your body has to engage the abs. I tried it by using a small expired heater I long since use as a footstool to support my back, and put my legs under my bed… voila, homemade roman chair.

Mike Chang shows off the Roman Chair

Like in the video, when I leaned back, I felt an immediate engagement of my abdominals. Good I thought, hit it for 5 sets of 10, really felt it work all the way through. Polished off my abs with a interval workout of four exercises 10 reps each set – lower ab leg lift, cross elbow to knee ab crunches, toe touches for upper abs and then 45 degree jackknifes. 4 sets of that, and I felt pretty good.

I didn’t want to leave it at that though, ab day is also fun day… and I felt like tonight since leg day is still a couple days away (doing back ideally then chest this weekend), to do some goblet squats. I got nice and low, also did some posture work. Didn’t have a big dumbbell but goblet squats I think are more about form than weight. Got nice and eased into the motion and I think it really makes me more confident for squatting proper. Near the end I felt like it was definitely helping me widen my hips, which is an important component to strengthening and lowering the squat. Then afterwards I did that breathing exercise to work on vacuum packing my core that I mentioned a few blogs ago.

So reinforced the squat motion, got my core worked out, neither of which will impact my 5K tomorrow (I think) and my evening still gets to give my triceps a little more rest before pounding them (back day will use a little tricep but chest day is the hard day on triceps and that’s still two days away). So I think all accomplished, good work for just a very short workout before bed on what was otherwise a rest day.

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Exercise Log 10.28.13 (Leg Day + Cardio)

I’m going to write out these exercise logs to just get in the habit of laying down my thoughts, but don’t be surprised if in a week or two I spare you guys a little bit by just making them simple notations of the exercise done without commentary. So long as it’s fun for me to tell it like a story, I’ll type it up that way, I guess is what I’m getting at.

So today was leg day, had the day off so was especially lazy getting to the gym. When I finally got there though it was time to go to work. Hit the warmups (for legs I always warm up quads and hamstrings on the appropriate weight machines). It was Monday and despite not being so busy for a Monday, it definitely was a little active. So I did the more personal workouts first… grabbed a pair of 40lb dumbbells and did 3 rounds of marching lunges across the floor (an exercise I affectionately call the “dread march”). That is getting easier I suspect because of the squat work. Then I did the vertical leg press, I did 4 sets on there with the last two sets at 540 pounds of plates (6 45-lb on each side) on the smaller sled, doing a higher volume of reps than before at that weight level. Of course, I did calf raises inbetween sets.

Finally got myself some time in the power rack, we only have one at my gym which sucks, and I properly hogged it for a while working on front squats. I did alternating between the strap grip and the clean grip and my focus today was just keeping good form again, and did enough reps I sort of lost track… 5-6 sets easily for each front and back squats. I struggled with front squatting 135lbs and after a few failures I finally did one good squat with it. Then I dropped the weight down after squatting heavy and put in some volume at a lighter weight, still reinforcing the pattern.

Then I did back squats (I took a break from the squat rack to let someone else hop in, but nobody was showing interest in it so I hopped back in it) and found it harder with the back squats to get deep than the front squats. Not sure why, almost like I’m better at the front squatting than the back squatting right now. I was able to squat a little bit heavier but not with the best form (barely parallel on the depth), got up to 155lbs. I’m revising my squat goals to 200lbs front squat and 250lbs back squat.

One back squat tip that helped a lot today to learn the motion better was to use a low bar position. A low bar position is where you rack the bar against your shoulderblades, more or less, in the grooves of the rear delts and the upper shoulder blade area. While standing upright it’s not completely settled in, but as you do the back squat your back tilts at an angle which makes it nestle in more naturally for the harder part of the squat. The lower position requires more back movement, for me that means flexibly I have a little harder time with the squat I think than the front squatting position. I was able to eek out more this way though. Then of course, I finished by going a lighter weight and focusing on good form extra-deep squats until I was expended.

Inbetween sets on the squats, I also did some squat stretches to loosen up my hips which I felt was a nice activity to fit inbetween sets. Here is a quick video showing off some of the stretches I did.

Scott Herman shows off some squat stretches and form tips

Squatpocalypse over, I made sure to go work on calves. I did the standing calf press machine this time and focused on heavy lifting, inbetween sets I kept going with calf raises with body weight as my “rest” time, a tip I got from Ben Pakulski’s fitness channel… it was like a drop set every set and created a nice burn. My calves are naturally strong so they don’t get a good burn very often. I also did hip extensions on the hip press machine, again pressing the whole machine’s plate set in short reps of two reps each leg, 15 sets, fast paced. Final set was just to failure (like 5 reps) just to polish off the glutes.

Cardio was very light tonight a simple 1.5 mile set at a “brisk walk” pace on the treadmill. Didn’t burn a ton of calories, but definitely got my blood flowing and helped set my day’s metabolism. Didn’t forget to do proper stretching post-workout too! A complete day at the gym.

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Exercise Log 10.27.13 (Back & Shoulder Day, No Cardio)

Back day today was a pain… in the back! Ya get it?

Back and shoulder day is always a fun time, because I got plenty to learn and do with all my back exercises. After warmups I got straight into bent over rows, grabbed an 80lb curl bar and did a set, incremented up to 110lb over 4 sets. Feeling pretty good and warmed up, I decided to nab a heavy dumbbell (for me heavy here is 60lb) and did one armed dumbbell rows. After two sets of that I went up to two more sets at 65lb.

Then it was time for deadlifts! It was a little rocky but deadlifts are some of my favorite exercises. I started with a simple set at 135lbs, just to get the knack for my form doing a full set of 10. Then I incremented and hit a set at 185lbs, and after that I decided to try my known max of 225lbs. At this point I had problems, in fact for the first 5 minutes or more I couldn’t budge it and had to stare at the bar like an idiot in the gym. Thankfully it wasn’t busy.

Elliot Hulse is one of the Youtube channel makers who is particularly talented with barbell exercises and knows a ton about it. I’m going to quickly share two videos of his that helped me out despite both being silly.

Elliot Hulse explains God’s weight belt and offers a simple breathing exercise that works

The mechanices of the lumbo-pelvic rhythm in the deadlift

The first vid I know is a little hard to take seriously (for those who don’t have ten minutes, it’s a breathing exercise where you exercise the abdominal core and the muscles that form the body’s natural “weight belt” by sucking your asshole… yeah, I’m being serious… into your gut, if that makes sense). I tried the exercise though and it works well, my abs were sore for two days afterwards… plus when I needed to pick up the max weight, I felt like it was really helpful to stabilize my back and not fold my body up like a limp noodle.

Second video is part of Elliot Hulse’s “science of deadlifting” series and explains how all the muscles in the lumbo-pelvic region relate to one another, and how this correlates into generating force for the deadlift. After watching this video I understood a lot more about what I need in terms of rhythm.

So to get past the wall of not lifting this heavy (for me) weight, I did a few practice grabbing motions before trying again, focusing on using my heels to push the ground down and force myself up hard. While doing this, I contracted my core as I learned in the exercise, and combined it into one motion. After I felt comfortable with the explosiveness and force of the motion, I went for a grab and rather easily pulled the weight up. I was aiming to complete a set of 6 reps, but somewhere around rep 5 at this weight I felt like I was losing the rhythm, so I took a break and lowered the weight and did a couple more sets practicing the tweaked form at a lower weight level.

So after the deadlifts were done, I hopped out and did some pull-ups and chin-ups, then I focused on my scapula adductors (which as I mentioned in the previous video I felt needed development to improve my squat form) with seated rows and with T-Bar rows putting special emphasis on the scapula adductors by making the moving motion pinching the shoulder blades together NOT moving the arms.

I was in a pinch on time at the gym and already had been there an hour and a half, so I put off shoulders until I got home. Shoulders at home means very little equipment, but that’s okay I still got in a good workout. With the ol’ trusty EZ curl bar I did some upright rows and military presses. Then I did another superset of dumbbell shoulder presses and side raises. I decided to try a new exercise (for me), the Arnold press…

T-Nation video showing how to do the Arnold press

This press created by Arnold Schwarzenegger focuses on the shoulder and is more or less a pronated/supinated shoulder workout from an unconventional angle. I only had one dumbbell heavy enough to do this press so I just took turns on arms. Great exercise! I followed this up with some trap shrugs, one arm at a time, with the same dumbbell.

Then I wrapped up shoulders by doing the usual innies & outties superset with some wide arm stance narrow feet pushups like usual. Innies & outties are a nice safety exercise to help stabilize your rotator cuffs, it’s a nice exercise to top off an otherwise busy exercise day.

Scooby shows the innies & outties

Skipped cardio just didn’t have the time between that and all my other chores, go figure.

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