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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 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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Exercise Log 4.2.14 (Arm Day & Bouldering, No Cardio)

Okay well today was arm day and I needed to have a good workout because it was also my birthday, and what better way to celebrate the ripe old age of 34 than to get a glory swole bicep/tricep pump.

I’m going to keep this log short because the workout was simple, but it was very effective. I felt real good afterwards. This was all prep work too for a fun night of bouldering, but I’ll get to that after the log.

First, biceps…

Concentration Curls: 4 sets of 6 reps ea. @ 40lbs (forced negatives on failure, more of these on the right arm than the left)

Chin-ups: 4 sets of 8 reps, the very last rep was a forced negative.

Bare Barbell Drag Curls: 4 sets of 12 reps with a slow tempo.

Preacher Curls: 3 sets of 8 reps @ 50lbs

Hammer Curls: Set 1) 5 reps @ 35lbs. Set 2) 3 reps @ 35lbs (poor form), 2 reps @ 30lbs (stepped down, felt the form was too sloppy). Set 3) 5 reps @ 30lbs.

After this I felt pretty expended bicep-wise, so it was time for triceps, did a new workout I found on Mike Chang’s channel that I felt was fun. I’ll share the video here below.

This workout plan gave a great tricep pump afterwards.

What makes this particular exercise great is the close grip bench press, which for me was a new exercise. I really felt like that contributed a lot to the tricep work in this, and really made it good. I deviated a little from the suggested reps/sets but I felt like I did a good job with this workout.

Close Grip Bench Press: 3 sets of 10 reps @ 105lbs, focus on form and learning the exercise (first time).

Dumbbell Tricep Extensions: 5 sets of 6 reps @ 60lbs.

French Press: 4 sets of 5 reps @ 70lbs, with a failure on the final rep. Then a drop set of 12 reps @ 50lbs.

Tricep Kickbacks: 4 sets of 12 reps @ 25lbs.

After a long and productive day I headed up to the bouldering gym for a night of indoor rock climbing. I think I made some real good progress here, even did some climbs I felt were challening, but I’m by far very much a novice at it still. I’m getting better though with time.

Pretty soon I can look like I actually know what I’m doing.

So anyways, had a great time today which was fitting for a birthday.

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Exercise Log 3.31.14 (Spring Run ’14, Cardio only)

Well, ran 21.45 miles today (canceled leg day to accomodate for the long run), although I admit after mile 15 I stopped maintaining a running pace and it turned into a series of walks with intermittent hobbled jogging. The total trip took 4 hours and 45 minutes, I started in Frick Park and ran down via the Waterfront to the GAP and from there all the way downtown to Point State Park then headed right back. I was able to maintain an average of about an 10-12 minute mile for the first 14 miles then it started to slip noticeably. To say I’m tired right now is an understatement, and I’m cold. But I’m in one piece with about 2000 calories of food to replace some of the 2500 or more I burned, chugging it all down with a bunch of Coke Zero and that’s what matters at the end of the day.


Also loved some of the sidewalk graffiti, it was encouraging to see! Today was a beautiful day whether you guys were at the ball games or just out and about, I hope you all got to experience the first real day of spring weather today!

It was a sun shining day, finally glad the winter passed!

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Exercise Log 3.30.14 (Chest Day, No Cardio – Deload Cycle)

Just laying down the law about chest day, the final day of my deload cycle. So far my deload accomplished a lot. It helped me recover my body, speaking a couple days after it’s over now I feel real good, capable of carrying through to my vacation. Plus it taught me a lot about form, technique and application of intensity. I realize after my deload cycle that I can truly get an intense workout at a mere fraction of the weight (60% of my one rep max in some cases) than what I’m used to.

Chest day is a day I’m wary of with the soreness lingering in my shoulders, while the shoulder did get sore, it recovered fast – much faster than previous weeks (I’m typing this up and my shoulder almost feels 100%) and my focus on my chest is really good as my chest is still very, very sore right now two days later.

Alright, I’d love to actually detail my feedback on the deload cycle, but I might save that for another time. Gotta record this log for the books.

Flat Bench Press: 6 sets of 5 reps @ 135lbs. Focus on good form.

Declined Bench Press: 4 sets of 8 reps @ 115lbs.

Inclined Dumbbell Bench Press: Like last chest day, I did these to lessen aggrevation on the shoulder. It worked well. 4 sets of 10 reps @ 35lbs.

Dumbbell Hip Press / Dumbbell Chest Press: 3 sets of 10 reps each exercise @ 40lbs. This is a great superset for chest day that I really feel adds a ton to the chest workout, I will be doing this more often but perhaps do a heavier weight/lower rep set soon.

Seated Cable Chest Fly: 3 sets of 10 reps @ 40lbs.

Dumbbell Chest Flys: Set 1 & 2) 6 reps @ 35lbs. Set 3) 5 reps @ 35lbs (failed the 6th). This is a good indicator that my chest was essentially done working today, so swapped to shoulders.

Dumbbell Shoulder Flys / Dumbbell Military Presses: I like dumbbell military presses more than curl bar military presses. 3 sets of 8 reps @ 30lbs.

Side Raises: 3 sets of 10 reps @ 15lbs. Since this is light I focus a lot on form and maintaining good form. This is a great exercise for the shoulders all it takes is a sleeveless shirt and a mirror to see just how well it contracts all the shoulder muscles, particularly that top part of the shoulder that adds depth to the muscle. Great exercise, even with the light weight.

That’s the end of my deload cycle, had fun!

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Exercise Log 3.24.14 (Leg Day, No Cardio – Deload Cycle)

Okay this is the start of my deload cycle. I’m backlogged (again) in workout logs but I feel I should leave a few comments on the deload. The first day of my

A deload cycle (for those of you who don’t know) is a period in a workout plan where you deliberately do a lighter than usual workout week (or you could also say, just taking a break altogether). I’ve been weight lifting since last April/May, and since my cycles started I did pretty much nothing to stop for more than a couple days at a time. My longest break was probably 3 days in a row. Partly this is because of my neurotic personality… I get anxious if I deviate from the plan, so I often just sucker into going to the gym when I should probably just kick it back.

As you can probably guess, I’m racking up dysfunctions left and right (tightness, soreness in joints and ligaments). I’m combatting this and continuing to train, but reality is that it is healthy to take some breaks. I do have a vacation coming up in May after running the half which I think would be an excellent time to take a break from all physical activity and let my body recover, not just from the half but from working out in general.

Until then, I need a break to get me through April and stay fresh. Rather than do a complete break, since my vacation is so close, I decided to do a diminished work week. This is not intended to give my muscles a rest so much as my mind (my workouts are going to be less neurologically demanding this cycle and I’m going to need to do less planning of the actual workout – which itself is a huge breath of fresh air, deciding what to do in a workout is a pain sometimes) and also rest for my joints and ligaments (by not bearing any overbearing levels of weight). Another benefit of a deload cycle in a workout plan is you get extra focus on refining technique, to get your form issues sorted out. When you return to heavier lifts, you will be just that much more cognizant of any form deficiencies (and there always are some if you’re advancing your weight up).

So my goal is to work in the 60-70% weight level and to slightly increase volume. Not a lot (this is not a “light” week like I did before where I’m deliberately going extra high volume) but enough to keep me stimulated through the workout. I’ve actually felt real great doing these workouts so far, and the log below is for leg day.

Front Squats: 5 sets of 5 reps @ 115lbs. Slow tempo on these lifts, really focusing on the form.

Angled Leg Presses / Calf Raises: 4 sets of 12 reps (each exercise) @ 180lbs. Again, slow tempo.

Box Jumps: Wanted to do these since my last leg day I got interrupted by a class. 4 sets of 12 reps @ 11 steps high (I do not know the actual height of these steps so this probably means nothing to you guys, but 15 steps is what I regard as high)

Seated Calf Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps @ 45lbs, very slow tempo.

Bulgarian Split Squats: 3 sets of 12 ea. @ 40lbs (curl bar). Tried really hard to focus on glute contraction with each rep.

Romanian Deadlifts: 4 sets of 10 reps @ 70lbs.

Quad Isolation Leg Extensions: 3 sets of 12 reps @ 135lbs, slow tempo. Nice burn and a nice way to end the workout.

No cardio today, no time after the workout was done. As you can see the workout above mirrors older workouts (in fact I got it from a recent leg day) but the weight levels were lower, a little extra volume was added and there was added emphasis on form.

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Exercise Log 3.22.14 (Back Day + Fight for Air Climb ’14)

Started out today with a fun trip up One Oxford Center at a fundraising stair climb for the American Lung Association. I definitely used my lungs (and legs) to get me up 897 steps in 9:47, which I think is pretty good for a first timer. I however could’ve done better if I had listened to some of the advice given and not gotten all super excited on the first few flights and just zoomed up, making myself winded before I even really hit floor 10 (out of 45 floors). My team the Climbing Monkeys did a great job and everyone I think surprised themselves a bit, at least who I talked to, about their times. The team as a whole also fund raised over $2300 all together for the ALA which is awesome. I was not really effective in fundraising anything, I was just there to hang out and have a good time.

If looks had anything to do with fundraising, I would’ve raised a million bucks!

Then that evening was back day which came real late in the day (had to take a nice midday siesta to recuperate), so I’m going to quickly record that log.

Deadlifts: Sets 1 & 2) 5 reps @ 235 Sets 3 & 4) 5 reps @ 245lbs. Set 5) 5 reps @ 265lbs. The final set was definitely a split set, was a little tired, but made it happen.

Seated Full Back Row: This machine, to separate it from the seated rowing cable machine that targets the upper back and scapular adduction motion is the one that has fixed arms that pull directly back rather than a cable. Sets 1 & 2) 10 reps @ 130lbs. Sets 3 & 4) 10 reps @ 145lbs.

Pendlay Row: This is a new exercise for me, going to link a video by Scott Herman showing it.

Great exercise, takes a little getting used to though.

I found it helpful to sit my butt back a little to get the right back position. 5 sets of 5 reps @ 135lbs.

Bent Over Rows (Barbell): 3 sets of 8 reps @ 135lbs.

1-Armed Dumbbell Rows: 4 sets of 8 each arm @ 70lbs.

At this point I’m hitting the limit of where I like to keep my workouts, so I made a note to do focused rear delt and trap exercises on my next dev day… my new focus is a more balanced workout program to ensure I’m not overworking.

Also I am skipping chest day this cycle (so no post for chest day) and will start a deload cycle starting on leg day and continuing until my next back day ends. My shoulder is now feeling mostly recovered, I’m hoping skipping chest day is exactly what it needs to become 100% again.

Totally counting this morning’s stair climb as cardio, because it was!

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Exercise Log 3.18.14 (Arm Day + Cardio)

Catching up on posting my workout logs. Today was arm day, so this log will be short and sweet for personal records.

For anyone curious while I did not follow the workout to the “T”, I did try Scott Herman’s “Tricked out Triceps” workout and it worked real good. My triceps felt like cotton candy for two days after this workout.

Definitely try this if you want a good tricep workout

Alright so here is my log of my workout, starting with triceps…

Heavy French Press: 5 sets of 5 reps @ 70lbs.

Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension: 5 sets of 6 reps @ 60lbs.

Tricep Cable Pulldown (rope handle): 1. 10 @ 60lbs. 2. 8 reps @ 100lbs. 3. 8 reps @ 100lbs (poor form). 4 & 5. 8 @ 80lbs (better form).

Tricep Cable Reverse Grip Pulldown (curl handle): 1. 10 @ 40lbs. 2 & 3. 10 @ 60lbs. 4. 10 @ 70lbs. 5 & 6. 10 @ 80lbs.

Next biceps, was shorter as not to aggravate my still healing shoulder I’ve been commenting on for a while (by this point my shoulder was definitely getting better but was probably still like 85% healed, as I type this it’s getting close to completely healed up thanks to the caution I’ve shown I’ve worked through the bulk of the injury and healing process).

Hammer Curls: 5 sets of 5 @ 35lbs.

Concentration Curls w/ Forced Negatives: 3 sets of 8 reps ea. @ 40lbs.

Preacher Curls (machine): The free form preacher curl bench was definitely a shoulder aggrevator so I stuck to the machine this time. 4 sets of 8 @ 80lbs.

Did a 3.45 mile run to polish off.

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Exercise Log 3.17.14 (Leg Day + Cardio)

I’m very backlogged on workout writeups, but had a fun and productive week.

This week was a St. Patty’s day leg workout. Unlike most, I wasn’t just working to burn off calories to justify beer binging, this is one holiday I felt good staying out of.

Rocking the luck of the Hyrulians in the gym

Anyways, finally broke my front squat plateau! But after doing so I’ve realized that perhaps one of the reasons I hit this plateau is my training is very skewed towards working up to a one rep max attempt on almost every workout, and this appears to be much more frequent than the typical weight trainer.

Most weight trainers focusing on strength gaining generally tend to work at between 70%-80% of their one rep max sets of 4-8 reps depending on the workout. Well I’ve been working fairly well above 80% and in almost every major compound lift (front squat, bench press, deadlift days) I’ve been using the third or 4th set to build up to a one rep max (either to reinforce the idea that I can hit the current max, or to attempt to improve it). I have also been doing working sets at 85-90% of my one rep max, to put myself closer to the max lift window, this also has a big strain even doing sets of 5 in, requiring pauses that split the set up as I go.

As you guys know I’m chasing numbers – my rest day logs illustrate I am aiming to improve my fitness by directly lifting more weight in my main lifts (and for cardio, moving faster). So first let me mention the positive takeaways from trying to go for new maxes routinely. For one, attempting the maximum motion of the lift (and this translates to running a bit) that you’re working on really exposes inconsistencies and helps you find weaknesses. There is nothing that shows you more about your deadlift than trying a max rep. It also exposes you to something new, the idea of what lies beyond your limits.

The negative though is that it fatigues you mid workout, and it requires an overexertion of neurological energy that you can’t always recuperate from. Sometimes you blow your nervous system out by overstimulating your muscles after a big lift. I’ve also had creeping injuries creep up. I’m doing what I think is a great job learning how to cope with these without stopping training, but I know if I keep this up on a routine basis I will suffer enough routine injuries to seriously disrupt my training pattern.

So while I think it’s important to test out one rep maxes and test your potential – you learn so much in the attempt about yourself – I’m doing to do so a lot less and with less weight (down in the 70-80% window instead of the 85-90% window). Hopefully after a couple months of revising this mentality, I will find myself with better gains and no more plateaus like the front squat plateau I just now broke.

Rant aside, time to log my workout!

Front Squat: Set 1) 5 reps @ 135lbs. Set 2) 5 reps @ 145lbs. Set 3) 5 reps @ 155lbs. Set 4) 2 reps @ 165lbs, 1 rep @ 175lbs (note on this lift: this was a solid front squat one of my best one rep max attempts, I did stick mid lift but I kept my core tight and didn’t wobble or flex in, there was probably a 15 second pause mid lift where I didn’t know if I was going up or down then I just cinched in and tighted up everything and it moved up to the top!). Set 5) 8 reps @ 135lbs.

Angled Leg Press / Calf Raises: Set 1) 10 reps ea. @ 270lbs. Set 2) 10 reps ea. @ 360lbs. Set 3) 10 reps ea. @ 450lbs.

Bulgarian Split Squats: 4 sets of 12 reps each leg @ 50lbs.

Box Jumps: 10 reps @ 11 platforms (not sure how big each platform is). Wanted to do more but picked a bad time to start this – a class was starting in the room so I had to do something different.

Seated Calf Raises: Set 1) 10 reps @ 45lbs. Sets 2 & 3) 10 reps @ 90lbs. Sets 4 & 5) 10 reps @ 135lbs.

Romanian Deadlifts: 4 sets of 10 reps @ 110lbs.

Quad Isolation Leg Extension Machine: Did this with a slow tempo, 4s down. Set 1) 10 reps @ 135lbs. Set 2) 10 reps @ 150lbs. Set 3) 10 reps @ 165lbs. Set 4) 10 reps @ 180lbs. Set 5) 10 reps @ 195lbs.

Finished up with a 2 mile run. Not that great but I’m recovering my running abilities from the big winter freeze.

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