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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 designer, fitness nerd and once-passed bill writer. 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, now I work with Office Depot. 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 - I'm back in game but definitely a Minor League Casual Gamer these days. My hometown is Greenville, MI where most of my family is located.

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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Holi Festival of Colors!

Just thought I’d post something fun besides fitness, went to the Festival of Colors today and had a great time. Have a little photo gallery here. My thoughts are: it’s surprisingly fun to just pamper people with color packets and have that be a “cool” thing. Plus I could use more hugs from strangers. On the negative side, the activity is a little droll. The music is nice beat-wise, but repetitive and a bit annoying. I suppose the beat is all that matters, and the periodic color throws. Great fun, but a negative again was that nobody really met me. Ran into a couple meetup people and that was it. Would’ve been a great time otherwise.

If you ever get one of these coming through your area, consider going and taking the kids if you want, it is a family friendly event (no drinking, smoking or drugs on site). Just people being friendly, which honestly you need to expose yourself to sometimes whether you like it or not. Also was a gorgeous day for the fun!

Click through for the Flickr gallery

Not really into the spiritual or silly aspects of it, but good fun is good fun whatever the form. Appreciate life more and live it, that’s my two cents at least!

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Exercise Log 4.19.14 (Boyce Park Wild Trail Run 10K)

Today I had my Wild Trail Run 10K at Boyce Park. I don’t have official times, but I ran the race in about 1 hour 1 minute, which is good considering the route had 297ft of vertical gain up and down the hills in the park. These were backwood trails, which created an interesting challenge just in passing people as we all had to essentially run single file. I kept up a brutal pace as far as heart rate went, 179 average with peak at 190bpm. So I worked for it. Was thankful for my lifting when I needed to use my calves and legs to push up the inclines on the trails.

This was a brutal but incredibly intense race. Felt bad because all my running friends went to the Pirates stadium run (later friends I didn’t even know were runners I found out went to that run) which I didn’t know about until I signed up for this one, but this run was absolutely the best training run I could do to prep for the upcoming half so feeling pretty good.

A bit tired, but made it to the finish without slowing down in the least. Knees were properly muddy from taking a clean fall, but I just kicked back up on my feet and kept running without missing a beat.

My next running training day will be out and doing loops through one big incline, which I’m expecting near the end of the half, to make sure on the half I don’t lose any steam near the final leg of the trip. We’ll see how it goes!

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Bodybuilding diet: Oatmeal Raisin Protein Cookies!

Okay so I decided to take a rest day today and catch up on some stuff I’ve been neglecting, and one of those things is a new healthy cooking project I have for some real proper protein-heavy Oatmeal Raisin cookies. They are admittedly my first baking project and not all that tasty, but I was real happy and felt successful with this project.

So quick snapshot of the recipe and prep…

2 cup rolled oats
4 scoops protein powder (vanilla)
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup egg whites (egg white beater, same quantity as two eggs of whites)
1 tbsp packet of splenda
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup of raisins
Hearty sprinkling of cinnamon (to preference)
1/3 cup milled flax seed
1 tsp baking soda (substituted 2 tsp baking powder as baking soda was not available)
1 tsp canola oil

I do not like walnuts (most really nice oatmeal raisin cookies I see sold have walnuts, so I’ve been fiending for one of these heartier cookies but always stymied by the presence of unwanted walnuts) but if you do like them you could slap some of those in as a great source of added protein and fiber.

Okay, so preparation is simple just combined all the ingredients (first protein powder, apple sauce, egg whites, cinnamon, flax seed… after mixing added vanilla extract, baking soda/powder, canola oil & splenda and gave a mix wanted these potentent ingredients mixed in thoroughly… finally did oats and raisins last and one last mix). Preheated oven to 350, made a mistake here in preparation to not have parchment paper which I feel is very necessary instead I sprayed a baking pan down with canola oil spray which still left me in a bit of a sticky situation after things were done. Cooked for approximately 12-13 minutes.

Okay, so this when formed into 8 cookies gives you snacks with the following nutritional values…

Calories: 265
Fat: 7g (mostly poly/mono fats)
Carbs: 37g (7g fiber/13g sugar)
Protein: 18g
Cost: Around $1 per cookie

Now I admit, they weren’t as tasty as other better baked cookies but they had the spot on nutritional facts I wanted and I honestly am hesitant to tweak the recipe much until I research it’s impact on the nutritional facts. I was really happy though with the results, check the photo below! These are very filling which I was very surprised by, I never met a cookie I truly felt “full” eating but these definitely were that.

They definitely looked pretty proper too!

All in all, not bad for a beginner I say. Great way to use a rest day.

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Exercise Log 4.17.14 (Back Day, No Cardio)

Today was back day, and I decided to try something new. My workout plan was revised recently to focus less on constant new one rep max work (which was getting me gains consistently, but perhaps not the best ones and also necessitating injuries). So now I’m focused more on working harder for it and not worrying about max lifts as much. However I have been eager to revisit my deadlift max, and see if I could do better.

So I saw this video from Omar Isuf that highlights a good “working up to a max” plan for a workout. It’s not a good workout, but it’s a good way to really try for a new max. I did not succeed to reach my new max, so I won’t try this again anytime soon, but I felt it was cool to see the progression and it was a fun learning experience. Might try to establish new one rep maxes after my May vacation from working out.

Warming up to a new one rep max attempt is definitely something that requires some thought and preparation, and you should design the day’s workout around it.

So that said, I am considering after my May vacation to revisit my plan to make it more regimented as far as the major lifts are concerned… make a 6-8 week “mesocycle” of progression that leads to a week of new maxes and a deload week, planning less over-exertion on the lifts than what I’ve been used to, hopefully to find a better balance of gaining.

Anyways, rant aside, time for the log…

Warmup: Did a nice couple sets of 16 reps light bent over rows, 12 reps light Romanian deadlifts with 20 reps of jumping jacks to wake my body up. This was a nice way to warm my body up.

Deadlifts (max attempt & failure): After a standard warmup set… 1. 8 reps @ 155lbs. 2. 5 reps @ 175lbs. 3. 3 reps @ 205lbs. 4. 1 rep @ 245lbs. 5. 1 rep @ 275lbs. Here I failed to rep 305lbs about 4 times. I killed probably 10-15 minutes in the failed attempts, so I did a penalty round of 3 reps @ 275lbs to finish the workout and move on. This was a very poor workout really, but I felt very good about the pacing to attempt the max… I just wasn’t ready for it today. I will try to keep in mind that a max rep attempt kind of screws up a workout a bit and only try it when I feel I’m ready.

Pendlay Row: 4 sets of 6 reps @ 135lbs.

T-Bar Rows: Sets 1-3) 10 reps @ 70lbs. Sets 4-5) 10 reps @ 90lbs.

Pull-ups: 3 sets of 8 reps with a couple forced reps on the last few reps. My lats are still a lagging developing body part.

Lateral Pulldowns: 4 sets of 8 reps @ 130lbs.

Upright Dumbbell Rows: To hit traps and reverse delts I did this exercise. 4 sets of 10 reps @ 35lbs.

That’s it! Okay workout not the best from a gaining perspective but I learned a lot, had fun… that’s what matters to me most.

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Exercise Log 4.15.14 (Arm Day, No Cardio)

Today was arm day, had to cut it short so I could get on the way to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Which was a pretty awesome movie. So today was primarily bicep day, and it was one of the hardest bicep days I’ve done. I followed a workout from Mike Chang that I’ll link here that was absolutely killer.

A real brutal bicep workout

Alright here is the log…

Light Full Form Curls / Heavy Forced Form Curls: 5 sets of 12 reps light / 8 reps heavy @ 40lbs light / 70lbs heavy.

Light Full Form Dumbbell Curls / Heavy Forced Form Dumbbell Curls (Seated): 5 sets of 10 reps light / 8 reps heavy @ 20lbs light / 30lbs heavy.

Chin-ups: 3 sets of 8

Definitely will emulate this workout again in the future, was a relief after the previous arm day which was not that great for bicep engagement.

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Exercise Log 4.14.14 (Half Training Run #2)

Half marathon program change has me doing training runs instead of leg day, and doing squats on dev day to keep my squat development continuing (just at a slower pace). So today I did a nice long run, 3 hours and 15 minutes to trek 14 miles in the hilly Frick Park (again). Not much new to report this run was harder than the previous as I didn’t especially carb up prior to the run, will keep in mind how important that is.

Was intending to push another lap (1.75 miles a lap) this time but I was completely drained by the last lap. It didn’t do me any favors that the final 2 miles were in the rain. I kept bothering a poor snake that just wanted to chill in a muddy path on my way up the hill, made me feel like an asshole a bit but he was in my way. I was also particularly annoyed to run about 6 miles of the trek with a stone in my shoe. I suppose if I whined any more about these minor issues I’d be called pinot grigio, had a fantastic time!

I didn’t look any worse for the wear after this run, bask in my post-run glow!

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Exercise Log 4.7.14 (Half Training Run #1)

Today I am doing a programming change and turning leg day into long run days. Dev day will take over my squat work, to keep my squat progression on track. This program change is only until May when I go to run the half marathon I’ve been training for.

For this half training run I did a hard loop up and down a nearby hilly park for 14 miles. Had an awful pace (took about 3 hours), but really helped I think pushed my endurance development. I feel this will help me be sure I can maintain a consistent pace in the actual race.

Hardface engaged!

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Exercise Log 4.5.14 (Back Day, No Cardio)

Well today was back day again, and something I learned today had a pretty big impact on my workout. I saw this video on Jonnie Candito’s training channel CanditoTrainingHQ.

Bicep tears are a common deadlift problem but not often spoken about.

I notice when I do deadlifts I do feel periodic twangs up and down the arm, and wasn’t sure why. Well the tension is pretty heavy and with one arm in a different direction it just makes sense that there is uneven distribution of load. So I decided to learn the suggested “hook grip” and also to improve my grip strength by using a conventional grip. I felt like this was a good plan to improve my grip strength overall and reduce my reliance on a switch grip. I did however also see a good video that explains how to maintain the switch grip with good form, so my plan is to use it only when bearing heavy loads and to be more cognizant of the form issues, so I’m reducing risk of a sudden freak bicep tear.

Omar Isuf gives a few pointers on using the switch grip in a way that is conscious of the risk of bicep injury

Alright that said, here is the log.

Deadlifts: Sets 1 & 2) 5 reps @ 235lbs. Set 3) 5 reps @ 245lbs. Set 4) 5 reps @ 255lbs. Set 5) 5 reps @ 265lbs, this was a very slow set with breaks on almost every rep – in the middle of this set I stopped doing the hook grip and did one rep with the switch grip, then went back to the hook grip. Set 6) 12 reps @ 135lbs (drop set with a conventional unhooked overhand grip, to focus on more gripping strength).

So that was fun and I will say, my thumb felt kind of sore from it and it didn’t help that the other day my thumb got slit open by a can lid, so squeezing it in the barbell grip wasn’t that fun. But it did get me through without having to use the switch grip. I feel like the best policy here out is to do a standard overhand grip, until weight gets overbearing, then hook grip, then for a few high load reps doing a switch grip with consciousness about the risk factors. I could of course use straps (I have some and they are cheap for you to get), but I’m one of those people who likes knowing I’m pulling that bar up off the ground with my own power.

The rest of back day was fantastic, and gave me a great back swole. I couldn’tve asked for a better back day workout than this one.

Low Row (this is a Seated Cable Row just like to call it low row to differentiate it from seated lateral rows on the machine to pull back via gripped levers): Sets 1 & 2) 8 reps @ 135lbs. Sets 3 & 4) 8 reps @ 150lbs. Set 5) 8 reps @ 165lbs (this was a rough set, poor form, did it with a couple breaks of reps of 4,2,2).

1-Armed Dumbbell Row: Sets 1 & 2) 5 reps @ 70lbs. Sets 3 & 4) 5 reps @ 80lbs.

Lateral Pulldowns: Set 1) 5 reps @ 145lbs. Sets 2 & 3) 8 reps @ 130lbs. Sets 4 & 5) 8 reps @ 115lbs.

Bent Over Rows (curl bar): 4 sets 8 reps @ 110lbs.

Overhead Shrugs: 4 sets of 10 reps @ 95lbs. Still my favorite way to work my upper traps.

Upright Dumbbell Rows: This is a new exercise I used as a replacement for upright rows, intended primarily today to work rear delts and traps. It’s a very cool exercise, I’m new to it, saw it on the Athlean-X channel which is run by a cool guy Jeff Cavaliere.

I have had the joint soreness issues creeping up, they’re getting better and I feel like because I am making adjustments like this. I will resume upright rows when I feel my shoulders are 100%, but use this dumbbell variation intermittently to reduce overall strain. I felt great after just a few sets of this.

Anyways, 3 sets of 10 reps @ 30lbs.

That’s it! Had a great workout, another one in the books with lots of lessons learned. What more can you ask for?

Well you can ask for cardio, but my hams are still shot up from the squats the other day and the epic long run Monday, so I skipped out on it. Tomorrow though I gotta get a good run in, I know. Crossing fingers that it won’t rain on my parade.

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PA’s Tableside Chats Ep. 4 “Deload Cycle”

Went ahead and uploaded a little video with thoughts on my first deload cycle, hopefully to give anyone probing the internet for information about the benefits of taking time out of a workout plan to try one.

A short perspective from someone still new to the game.

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Exercise Log 4.3.14 (Dev Day, No Cardio)

Today was a short day, had some errands to fix up at home and go out of work late. On top of that, had a pretty low energy and took a nap after work which ate up more time.

After the 21.45 mile run on Monday, I wanted to get some heavy leg lifting in for development day. While my workout looks short, it was really about an hour and 15 minutes and felt pretty intense. So I was okay with it. In fact it’s noteworthy that I’ve been having longer workouts and trying to make my workouts shorter and intense, so I felt like today I did good there.

Back Squats: 4 sets of 5 reps @ 155lbs. 1 set of 5 reps @ 175lbs.

Front Squats: Sets 1 & 2) 5 reps @ 145lbs. Set 3) 3 reps @ 155lbs, failed 2 more reps before taking a break.

This next exercise I got off Elliot Hulse’s channel, I felt like it was important to incorporate an exercise to work on stability and structural integrity. It probably has a more technical name but I call it clock lunges.

Moving outside your usual planes of motion really help reinforce your stabilizer muscles

Clock Lunges: 3 sets of 3 rotations @ 40lbs.

Quad Isolation Leg Extension Machine: 3 sets of 12 reps @ 180lbs at a slow tempo. Then finished by a burn set of 12 @ 120lbs then 12 @ 75lbs. Let me tell you, you do a good leg extension when you can drop the sets down to 75lbs for burn and still struggle.

That’s it, was running shy on time at this point the squats took up a considerable amount of time, so showered, split and got home (so I could prep my bodybuilding-style lunches for next week before bed).

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