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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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Bodybuilding diet: Oatmeal Protein Pancakes!

Okay in an attempt to be more proactive in the kitchen with bodybuilding meals, I’ve been scoping out various kinds of recipes. I’m a slow mover on these things because I like to plan, but I put this plan into action and snapped on it and learned a lot. So today for the first time I tried out a recipe for oatmeal protein pancakes!

As you know if you read some of my fitness logs I follow Scott Herman’s channels routinely. One of those videos, with help from his girlfriend Erica, they demonstrate how to make high protein pancakes. So this is the recipe I was experimenting with today.

I love pancakes, but stopped eating them after my dietary changes, this could get me back on the pancake boat.

Now they have the recipe there and you can customize it how you want, I’m not here just to repost the recipe I’m here more to discuss how the process went for me and what I learned. First, let me introduce you to the fam.

‘Sup bros!

These guys are all gonna become delicious pancakes for me. Well, in theory. So I followed the posted instructions (watch the video above) and made a few rookie pancake making mistakes. For one, I included too many oats (I poured a third of a cup instead of a quarter of a cup and said “screw it what can a little more hurt”). For two, and I realize this after watching a different protein pancake video, I should have precooked the oats (put the oats in first with a little bit of water to cover them, nuke for 60-90 secs) to soften the mix and make it a little more fluid. I also dropped an egg in the fridge like an idiot.

Anyways, when this mix got to the griddle the griddle was very hot and my mix was a little lumpy, so it didn’t really pour even. Then when I went to apply the blueberries (via the patented “throw them into the pancake as it cooks on it’s first side” technique) I took too long, and overcooked the pancakes a little bit. The uneven, lumpy texture made one of the pancakes mostly fall apart.

So what you see as a final result was not as professional or tasty as I had hoped (they were dry and falling apart). But fundamentally I know how to fix all these problems… the correct serving of oats, precooking the oats, more attention to cooking time and just not making blatant pancake-making errors.

VoilĂ ! Uh, well, not as picturesque as I’d had hoped.

So did I enjoy the creation? It was fun. I have a feeling when I master the art of pancake making, it will be better looking and tasting and I will update to reflect that. But you simply can’t argue with the nutritional facts of the end result as I prepared it…

Nutritional Facts (with my mix of brands pictured, same quantities as original recipe posted above):

405 total calories
– 10g fat
– 32g carbs (5g fiber/2g sugar)
– 52g protein
– a ridiculous quantity of various amino acids, omega-3’s and other vitamins/minerals
Estimated cost per batch: $2.05
Makes 4-5 small pancakes (or one jumbo pancake if you’re feeling froggy)

Stats includes a dabble of sugar free maple syrup. Feel free to dress it with other fruits, or a low sugar chocolate syrup, hyphy mud or anything else that gets you amped up in the morning. This is a great recipe to play with.

UPDATE! (3/28)

After some attempts and failures, I did manage to master the practice of making these better with this recipe. I soak the oats in a little water and microwave them for 90 seconds to get them soft, use a little more egg white (1/4 cup). The blueberry integration was difficult because honestly my blueberries were too big to be using for pancakes (the pancakes became all crumbly). Also since I was a little dodgy on how long to cook I did them at a little lower heat (yes your pancakes are better on a higher heat, but if you’re a newb doing something a little under 350 gives you more time to observe the changes). So instead of blueberries to flavor them, I used gobs of cinnamon, which really helps you metabolize the few carbs you’re intaking with this breakfast (although it’s not that many, really). Was very happy with the results! Using a non blocky material in the pancake batter really made it easier to pour too, given that I am again a newb at this. Proof of success!

They even smelled all cinna-money! Cha ching!

So in short you could eat this every day and become super peaked and freaked and lose all kinds of weight. In fact Scott Herman himself eats this as a very typical breakfast meal to make sure he hits his macros marks, and you can see that guy is very lean. I’m very excited for this.

Next up I’ll be doing some super healthy protein cookies, or protein bars one of the two… Get my snackin’ on!

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Exercise Log 3.2.14 (Rest Day Log)

Today (technically yesterday, started typing up this log last night) is a rest day so it’s time to catch up a little bit on progress logging. It’s been a while since I’ve done this kind of update. My last rest day log post was Jan 6th, so it’s nearly two months since then. Time to see how I’m doing.

Physically I do feel some wear from the grind and hustle. Had some hard nap days, low energy. On top of this more strains and kinks in my muscles require more stretching and massaging. Aggravation in my right shoulder and in my left psoas (or some muscle adjacent to the psoas in that inner hip area) have been particularly problematic, but I’m working around it. Part of this has been chronically skipping yoga, to make up for it I have been more seriously stretching after my workouts. My weight still has not fluctuated (I’m still pretty consistently 160).

My initial assessment is that I may be training suboptimally long in my workouts and not adequately resting… staying up late to be social and waking up early to open at work is definitely a factor there. So I’m trying to take rest days more seriously and absorb them in and I’m re-assessing my workout program. Trying to shorten my workouts and increase things like intensity and focus in the major exercises I do. I do feel like I am trending towards being leaner and improving strength, but more slowly than I had before the New Year started.

Nutritionally I started mass cooking my meals which I blogged about, which is great fun and really tightening up my nutrition. I have a lot more wiggle room to be sloppy on my diet if I wanted, but no real desire to be. If anything, I may end my days shy of the nutrients and calories I really need to be optimal. I may need to get more high quality protein in my diet.

Winter has slowed me down quite a lot, and the inability to get good outdoor runs in has hurt my cardio quite a bit. As far as my routines go, I’ve spent a lot of time working on form and focus, lately I’ve not been as concerned about pushing myself as I have just doing everything the right way. I think that will pay off in the long haul.

Now my front squat not improving in two whole months is noteworthy, because I had a lot of crisis and redevelopment of my front squat these last two months. My first 165lb front squat, which happened just prior to that Jan 6th log, was awful form. So I went down in weight and worked my way up over a 20lb gap. Then I hit a few low energy days, where training was suboptimal. My thought process is that anyone can do a sloppy squat to push the weight up but I want to make it good and solid as that will give me the best long-term gains.

As for my deadlift, this last month I’ve had a setback there, lower energy again hitting me to compromise my max deadlift. I have a feeling though this is temporary. Cutting back my plan and taking rest more seriously I think will shore up any issues with staying energetic enough to make the workout happen. I may also do a few workout days that are deliberately cut short, just to see how progress happens after those days.

Alright, finally let’s sum up the goals. Improvements are rated from my last update on Jan 6th.

Goal & Progress Log (last update Jan 6th)

Deadlift of 400lbs (current max 285lbs) +30lbs
Front squat of 200lbs (current max 165lbs) no change
Bench press of 185lbs (current max 165lbs) +10lbs
5K pace 23:00 (personal record 23:58) (no new races)

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Exercise Log 2.28.14 (Back Day + Cardio)

Today was back day, I was optimistic the workout would be great but it really wasn’t. It was rough.

One rant I want to lay down while I’m writing this log up is that I’m definitely trying to change some of my perspectives on the level of work I’m putting in compared to results. I notice results slowing down and in the case of today, perhaps even stepping back. I’m getting better now I think at performing exercises, so I think I need to focus on fewer principle exercises and less volume, make sure I’m not exceeding the best rate of return.

Let me explain real quick what I mean. When you work out (specifically weight training, not cardio) with a given intensity, there is a peak point where you get the most result for your workload. Past that point, you damage your body more than it recovers so your gains dip. I am a firm believer that some exceeding beyond this point is perfectly natural and okay, because your body has a lot of metabolic processes it triggers and it can really affect your endurance and ability. However beyond a certain point, you are doing far too much work and damaging your body more than it can recover.

I think with the volume of exercises I posted, I’ve done a lot of workouts in the last few months where I exceed the optimal mark by quite a wide margin, simply because I get caught up in working all parts of myself after I get going. So I’m trying to consciously limit my workouts to 4-6 major actions, so I don’t meander.

I felt like today’s back workout was good, but my deadlifting was really difficult. I’m losing deadlifting power somehow, but perhaps it was just the day and my natural energy level wasn’t quite at full capacity. Deadlifts are hard, so it’s hard to tell. Perhaps I’m moving my working sets upward too fast, and need to lighten the load and get more consistency in. Earn that 285lb max lift I did three cycles ago.

Deadlifts: Set 1) 5 reps @ 245lbs. Set 2) 5 reps @ 255lbs – this was slow, extremely, and did this mostly in singles. This set blew me out like the 265lb set did last week. Tried and failed 275, then 265, then 245 somehow. The fatigue affected me quite negatively. At some point I had to get back on the ball and try again. Set 3) 5 reps @ 225lbs. Set 4) 8 reps @ 185lbs (drop set).

Bent-over Rows w/Barbell: Normally I did these with the curl bar, and I feel like it’s time to step up. Get more intensity in! Sets 1 & 2) 10 reps @ 115lbs. Sets 3 & 4) 10 reps @ 135lbs.

Seated Rows: Did these with renewed focus and regained my sight in this long workout. Set 1) 10 reps @ 105lbs. Set 2) 10 reps @ 135lbs. Set 3) 8 reps @ 150lbs. Set 4) 8 reps @ 165lbs then with no rest did an immediate drop set of 16 reps at 90lbs. Nice burn!

Lateral Pulldowns/Pushdowns: Superset these exercises together to get more work in faster. 3 sets of 10 pulldowns @ 100lbs and 8 pushdowns @ 55lbs.

One Armed Dumbbell Rows: 3 sets of 8 reps @ 70lbs. Did these with as much force as I could, particularly in the last set.

Back Hyperextensions: These are easy so did 4 sets of 10 reps, using my hands over my shoulders pose (I call this the count pose).

Note to my next dev day: do extra traps/shoulders work!

Then finished up with some cardio by doing a 3.2 mile run on the treadmill at an easy pace. Just keeping my blood flowing and body moving!

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Exercise Log 2.27.14 (Dev Day, No Cardio)

Today is developmental day, to catch up on all the things I left behind this workout cycle. Today my priority was to hit arms, to do abs which I neglect a lot, and to stretch myself out. Had a fantastic time!

First, biceps…

Heavy Bicep Curls: 3 sets of 5 reps @ 80lbs. Had to work hard to keep form stable this was heavy for me.

Preacher Curls: 4 sets of 10 reps @ 50lbs. Worked on full extension and slower movement. Also tried desperately hard to break my body of recruiting my right shoulder into my curling action with my arms, it’s putting strain on it. This shoulder is kind of a pain in the ass at this point. Did an okay job, but still felt it want to recruit itself into the movement more than I’d like.

Hammer Curls: 3 sets of 8 reps each hand @ 30lbs. Worked on slow form and good contraction.

Chin-ups: 3 sets of 8 reps, these felt great, finished off biceps real efficiently tonight with this routine.

Then, triceps…

Tricep Dumbbell Hip Press: Usually I do hip presses with curl bars, I really liked this dumbbell variation… it felt fantastic! 4 sets of 10 reps @ 40lbs pair.

French Press: Worked on smooth and focused form for one of my favorite tricep exercises. 3 sets of 16 reps @ 50lbs.

Rope Tricep Pulldown: Went on the cable machine with the rope handle and hit it as hard as I could. Sets 1 & 2) 8 reps @ 80lbs. Sets 3 & 4) 8 reps @ 100lbs. Set 5) 12 reps @ 60lbs (drop set).

Alright, next it was time for abs!

Cable Crunches: This was an awesome exercise and I will absolutely be doing this all the time especially on developmental day. Got the tip from Scott Herman, although I kind of hate asking for spotters so I didn’t have someone step on my toes to bring the weight up. I felt it works a lot of stabilizers to not have someone holding your feet, so it’s still hard. Here is a great video…

A very fun ab exercise that you can really feel. No, I’m not hardcore enough to pin a plate in.

Didn’t know how to tackle it at first, so just incremented the weight as I went. Set 1) 12 reps @ 120lbs. Sets 2 & 3) 12 reps @ 140lbs. Set 4) 12 reps @ 160lbs.

Roller Doohickey: The little arm roller thing you see people play with at the gym, I never did this so I felt like it’d work my core so I tried it. It’s probably got some technical name, but I call it a doohickey. Here is a video showing what I mean so you’re not all confused.

My verdict, pretty fun and simple.

Not a replacement for other ab day exercises, but a nice one to swap in. 3 sets of 8 reps.

Woodchoppers: Scott Herman again has a great selection of fitness videos, and I decided to do my first set of real “woodchopper” oblique twists. Again, video!

It’s kinda fun to just crank it out.

Sets 1 & 2) 12 reps @ 60lbs. Sets 3 & 4) 12 reps @ 90lbs.

Since this is developmental day I really like to use today as a day to fix disfunctional parts of my body, and today that meant extensive stretching. I’m tight everywhere, and even after a day of massaging and stretching a couple days ago I knew I needed it again. Listen to your body when muscles feel tight, stretch them out! I did very extensive arm stretches, focused on that troublesome right shoulder and my calves (I am genetically gifted with awesome calf muscles) have feel feeling very tight lately so I took a nice long stretch with those. Then I did a lengthy session (like 3 rounds, although not specific quantities of reps) of breathing stomach vacuum exercises. This really helps stabilize my core for those compound lifts I do in the week, and I think are very essential.

That’s it for the log, great workout day!

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Exercise Log 2.22.14 (Back Day, No Cardio)

After a rest day to join some friends out for an evening of fun, I came back to the gym looking forward to having a productive workout. Light week is over, so it’s time to get back to lifting heavy for a week or two. I’m going to repeat light week periodically though, just to be sure I’m keeping myself on my toes. That said, I felt like I was subpar in terms of lifting ability and it compromised my workout quite a bit.

Deadlifts: After extensive warmups, I hit the barbell hard, but it hit back equally hard. Set 1) 5 reps @ 255lbs. Set 2) 5 reps @ 265lbs. These were admittedly higher than my normal working set but the second set crushed me. I was down to one rep at a time, and it totally psyched me out on the rest of my workout. Set 3) 1 rep @ 275lbs. I probably had 4-5 failed attempts at a second set, and decided to step down the weight to proceed. Set 4) 5 reps @ 245lbs. Set 5) 5 reps @ 225lbs. Finally got the drop set in at the end, to reinforce the pattern. Set 6) 10 reps @ 185lbs.

Deadlifts took like 40+ minutes due to the dragged out second set and the long series of failures and recoveries and failures. It was rough. I had to focus on the best back exercises to get done in a reasonable timeframe.

T-Bar Rows: 3 sets of 10 reps @ 70lbs. 2 sets of 9 reps @ 90lbs.

Back Hyperextensions: 4 sets of 10 reps with my arms out in the superman pose.

1-Armed Dumbbell Rows: 3 sets of 8 reps each arm @ 70lbs.

Bent Over Rows: 3 sets of 10 reps @ 110lbs. These felt good.

Pullups: 3 sets of 8 reps, did forced negatives around the 6th rep for the first two sets, and the last four reps in the last set.

That took way too long, plus I was late getting out of work, plus I took a midday siesta prior to working out so no cardio tonight. Which was a pity, the day was gorgeous and I got to experience none of it really. Maybe next time.

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Trying out mass cooking bodybuilder-style for the first time!

Okay, for something a bit different now. Since starting my personal fitness program I’ve had a dodgy system for eating. As time passes it becomes obvious that diet can be the difference between big gains in the weight room, no gains or just getting fat again. A top recommendation by body builders is to cook in bulk, and I’ve started experimenting with that so I thought I’d log my thoughts on this process as I’ve just started to get a little more serious about it.

I tend to plan new projects slowly, simply because I pay attention to detail. Just as it took me 31 years to get involved with fitness, I planned that progression and have been keeping everything on track so far to excellent routine gains. Well the diet changes were also planned, but when it comes to preparing foodstuffs I know it takes a level of creative energy to get the ball rolling. I’m no chef, but money and other factors encourage me to plan better in this department so I’ve started the fine art of dabbling.

So first let me talk about where I’m at nutritionally right now. Prior to a couple years ago, I ate whatever and exercised none and obviously was fat. When I went through my thinning down phase, my only goal was to diminish the overall calories and revise my acceptable food items to those not lopsidedly full of carbs and fats. I was very happy with a series of low (under 500) calorie lunches, an under 400 calorie breakfast (or skipping it) and a 1000 calorie dinner. It averaged out to a total of 1750 or so calories daily which when combined with modest physical activity helped me drop from 220 to 150 in about a year. Then I started learning weight training, transfering my fitness program over to build muscle rather than burn fat.

Due to having a different goal, I had to change my diet. In an effort to pay more attention to macro (and micro) nutrients, I’ve been favoring a high protein diet of about 2400 calories a day. This is low for bulking, but my goal is to do a clean bulk (to continue to trim fat while still supplying the body enough protein and other materials to grow muscle)… I don’t want to ever have to have a “cutting” phase ever again. Since starting that I’ve had little to no real fluctuation in weight but have seen steady improvements in physical build and overall strength (strength is the real barometer I test gains at now… I figure if I’m getting stronger month to month, I’ll eventually have the body I want in all those superficial ways too).

My first step, which I’ve blogged about, was creating a real tight breakfast – my “Breakfast of Champions”, love it. One challenge I came up to right away was in the horrible winter we’ve had I’ve found it impractical to get up and cook at home before work, preferring instead to eat out. While I’ve found good breakfasts “on the go” from this it sucks to lose my extremely tight and cheap breakfast to the convenience factor. So step #1 in bulk food prep was figuring out how to mass cook and freeze breakfast. Thankfully this worked well and was a huge success for me, encouraging me to try mass preparing my lunch.

I was encouraged by friends (a couple gave me some practical demonstrations) to pre-prepare my food, and by this video online I felt was helpful showing how to mass bake chicken. I mean it’s simple to mass bake chicken, but sometimes you just needed to see someone else do it to get the motivational energy to try.

Watch his other video on food prep for more mass preparation ideas.

So with all this in mind, I decided my next step is to revise my lunch plans and start learning to cook in bulk. It took a bit but I’m putting that plan into action.

Step #2 being put into action

It’s popular in bodybuilding to mass cook food and have a tupperware party every week, so that’s what I decided to try and I’m having good success. Today I took 2 hours on my day off to prepare meals for the rest of the week. Pictured: 6 lunches for tupperware and 4 more chicken fillets to make into 4 more lunches. Let me talk a bit about the prep.

Got some chicken, trimmed the fat and cut the breasts into 1/2lb halves the long way (so long and thin cut). My favorite seasoning is a cajun powder blend, so slapped that on there…

You can tell I buy it by the big f’n tub.

Then took a zesty herb marinade and slapped the chicken in the fridge overnight. Today dragged it out, pan seared it then baked it. Thanks to the miracle of non-stick aluminum foil, cleanup of the baking pan was a snap, and there was only the searing pan to clean up after that. Next was distribution of foodstuffs. Boil-in-a-bag rice was the carb source, some white some brown, and that microwaved then strained during the other food prep (12 minutes per two bags in a big bowl in the microwave while I seared and baked the chicken, drained them in a strainer in the sink while I did the other prep) and it was the only extra item requiring actual preparation and dirtying any other dishes.

So let me show real quick what I prepared, lunch option #1…

Cajun marinated chicken with some white rice, peas and carrots.
Calories: 793 | Fat: 14g | Protein: 60g | Carbs: 97g | Cost: $2.95

Option 2, for those days I’m feeling extra saucy…

Cajun marinated chicken, brown rice, refried beans & enchilada sauce.
Calories: 834 | Fat: 18g | Protein: 67g | Carbs: 99g | Cost: $3.15

Option 3, some sammiches and a snack for those days I get tired of the chicken…

Turkey & Swiss, Roast Beef & Cheddar plus Tuna & Mayo sandwiches all on low calorie bread. Carrots or some other snack as a side.
Calories: 867 | Fat: 38g | Protein: 82g | Carbs: 58g | Cost: $7.75

I’m aware this isn’t as financially feasible as the other options, I buy expensive deli meats and higher value low calorie bread. I could probably do a financial reassessment on this meal and knock $2 off somewhere I’m sure. Also had some leftover chicken for packing future lunches…

At least 4 extra servings of chicken were wrapped up and stashed for future use.

I like to spread the rice out on the top of my packed lunch and pack it with a lightly moistened paper towel, so reheating the rice is nice and moist instead of dry. Here the final foods all packed and ready to go in the fridge.

This hopefully will be a hallmark of my new dietary routine.

Well that’s my first foray into body building diet planning, and I feel like I’m off to a good start. I do need to experiment with other protein sources though, but I need to keep it simple so I actually can build a routine around doing it, so that will be taken one step at a time. So that puts lunch at sub 900 calories, with my 400 calorie breakfast…

Which, BTW, are still tucked away nice and frosty in the fridge, need to cook some more soon seems I’m down to my last two.

… and my 1000 calorie dinner all keep me within my 2400 calorie diet and give me all my basic nutrients so snacks here and there are fine. My next logical step, after playing with this a little more and seeing if I can’t make a fish or beef based lunch to mass cook with ease in the current system I’m using, is to start getting more variety for dinner. I love my routine dinner though (a half box of Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Chicken Helper) so not eager to mess with what isn’t broken.

Also on my diet-revising agenda, trying out some new high protein recipes for cookies and pancakes that I found online. Planning your diet is an important step to any fitness development, so I consider this blog as important as any of my exercise logs. I know those of you who cook for yourselves for years and years probably aren’t impressed, but hey the point here is proof of concept that plans can be put into action especially after friends nag you for months about how you suck at not cooking enough food for yourself.

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Exercise Log 2.18.14 (Leg Day + Cardio)

Alright continuing light week, leg day! I’ve been looking forward to this since I got the idea for light week, and it was surprisingly hard in practice it was very intense and I felt it really hard afterwards. Which is great!

Front Squat: I thought I could do more with a lighter weight, but front squats STILL even with light weight or next to no weight, are a very neurologically intense workout and doing high volume just is f’n hard. Anyways, I felt good after! 4 sets of 12 reps @ 125lbs. The last couple sets definitely had early pauses to get going.

Angled Leg Press Machine w/ Calf Raises: 4 sets of 16 reps each (presses & calf raises) @ 270lbs. Very slow tempo, something like 2-1-5 and even slower on the last set. This gave a great burn.

Hamstring Curl Machine: 4 sets of 16 reps @ 65lbs. I did another slow tempo workout with slow eccentric movemention (again like 2-1-5 and again even slower on final sets) and I felt like I wanted to cry on these. These were damn hard. My right hamstring is still deformed from pulling it two years ago, so I’m very cautious when I work hamstrings, but I was able to do this exercise and felt no uneven distribution of stress or tension it burned out both hamstrings so I’m really hoping that plus my lack of any mobility issues means we’re good back there despite the deformity. We’ll see, but man, you want worked out hams? Do slow slow slow hamstring curls with light enough weight to go slow like this, and you’ll feel the burn all over.

Standing Lunges: 4 sets of 16 reps @ 30lbs dumbbell pair.

I got my cardio in, the only real cardio this week, at 3.25 miles. It was slow due to all the leg work, but I wasn’t quite done with my leg exercises with just this.

Hip Abductor/Adductors: 3 sets each machine of 16 reps @ 130lbs. Very slow tempo again, and very big burn.

Quad Isolation Extension Machine: I don’t normally do these isolation machines but they’re great for isolating the muscle and doing the lower weight, high volume, slow tempo stuff. 3 sets of 12 reps @ 60lbs (each leg, this was the crappy machine where each leg is independent, I hate this one)

Stiff Legged Deadlifts w/Dumbbells: Normally would use a curl bar for these but the weight levels I wanted were all snatched up. So instead I did 3 sets of 12 reps @ 25lbs dumbbell pair. Got myself nice and slow, and kept focused on slow tempo (again) with stopping when I felt my low back begin to go into flexion. Great way to finish off my legs this evening!

Fantastic workout and definitely felt sore after. Light week is shaping up to be a good change of pace!

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Exercise Log 2.15.14 (Back Day, No Cardio)

Alright I’m starting out this new week with a “light training” week. Going extra low weight and manipulating the intensity of the workout by trying new things, changing the tempo and other techniques. The higher volume will be great, and the first workout was really awesome. Per the usual I did start with appropriate warmups.

Hanging Power Cleans / Deadlifts / Sumo Deadlifts: This first circuit of exercises was what I deemed my “Pelvis of Elvis” workout and with good reason – they’re all strong hip action exercises. Hanging power cleans are new for me, as are sumo deadlifts, so I’ll link a video for those exercises.

Here we see how to do the hanging power clean, a development exercise to support the lifting patterns for the olympic “clean & jerk” lift. I hear the shrug really develops the trap muscles.

I never really like the sumo deadlift because it seems like a less sophisticated deadlift that lets power guys lift more weight, but it’s nice to change things up sometimes.

Anyways, this circuit was killer despite doing the lower weight levels. Since I’m brand new to the hanging power clean, I started with very light weights. Round 1) 16 hanging power cleans @ 45lbs (bare bar) / 12 reps deadlifts @ 135lbs / 12 reps sumo deadlifts @ 135lbs. Round 2 & 3) 16 hanging power cleans @ 65lbs / 12 reps deadlifts & 12 reps sumo deadlifts @ 185lbs. Round 4) 12 hanging power cleans @ 85lbs / 8 reps deadlifts & 8 reps sumo deadlifts @ 225lbs.

Seated Rows: 5 sets of 16 reps @ 90lbs. Slower than usual tempo with extremely slow (1-1-5) eccentric movement for the last two sets.

Lateral Pulldown / Pushdowns: 4 sets 12 reps pulldowns @ 85lbs / 12 reps pushdowns @ 40lbs. Again used slower than usual tempo and extremely slow tempo on final two sets.

Good Mornings / Bent Over Rows: 4 sets of 12 reps good mornings / 16 reps bent over rows @ 40lbs.

Back Hyperextensions: Did the nice back hyperextension exercise for 3 sets of 12 reps using the over the shoulders “count” pose and a slow tempo (3-1-5).

1-Armed Dumbbell Rows: To wrap up this high volume low weight high intensity workout I did 3 sets of 12 reps each arm @ 45lbs. This put a nice good burn throughout my back.

Great fun, did skip cardio today had a very long day but that’s okay from time to time.

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Exercise Log 2.14.14 (Dev Day, No Cardio)

If you want ladies to show you some lovin’, you gotta show your body some lovin’, at least that’s how I look at it. I finally felt closer to 100% after a few days of feeling a bit sick, so I needed to have a nice long workout day to make up. Leg day and arm day were seriously compromised, and that’s why I have Developmental day exists in my routine, to make up shortcomings. So I hit legs and arms hard.

First up, my makeup day for legs.

Goblet Squats: Set 1) 10 reps @ 60lbs. Set 2) 10 reps @ 70lbs. Set 3) 10 reps @ 80lbs. Set 4) 10 reps @ 90lbs. Set 5) 16 reps @ 60lbs.

Front Squats: The goblet squats warmed me up for the front squats, so instead I just wanted to work up for a heavy rep. Set 1) 5 reps @ 135lbs. Set 2) 5 reps @ 145lbs. Set 3) 3 reps @ 155lbs (good form), failed twice to hit 165lbs. Wasn’t sure what was wrong, perhaps I lost a little energy doing so many goblet squats. I was trying to focus on depth and form, so perhaps I was pushing those angles too hard.

Overhead Squats: I wanted to learn a new kind of squat, the overhead squat, with a bare barbell. For some reason though my body just didn’t know what to do. Perhaps with a few repeated viewings of the below video I’ll figure it out, but I couldn’t acquire the necessary depth to fully squat while holding the barbell so high above my head. I also had issues locking my shoulders. Mainly just a newbie at this form of squat. I tried 6-8 reps, but the end result was too poor for me to truly count any of them. It’s a difficult exercise but like the front squat, it’s form corrective. Whatever is going on in my neuromuscular system that is making this movement confusing or bad will improve with time if I learn the pattern. I might be better off finding a pvc pipe though and doing it that way, rather than even the bare barbell, as silly as it sounds.

Strength Camp e-Coach Chris makes the overhead squat seem easy, but it’s pretty damn hard.

Hamstring Isolation Curl Machine (slow eccentric): I didn’t do much hamstrings on my short leg day, so I’m doing some makeup. I decided to slow down the tempo to make it feel more effective, and it worked really well. Set 1) 10 reps @ 65lbs. Set 2) 10 reps @ 80lbs. Set 3) 10 reps @ 95lbs. Set 4) 10 reps @ 110lbs. Set 5) 8 reps @ 125lbs. Had a good burn by the end, my last two reps were kind of dodgy so I paced it just right.

Romanian Deadlifts: I like this exercise, great for glutes and hamstrings. 3 sets of 10 reps @ 110lbs. This video by Scott Herman helps illustrate this effective exercise… although I admit I had it confused with the “stiff legged deadlift” for some time. He also has a good explanation on the difference between the two in case you are curious to know.

Be sure not to go too low in this movement, as soon as you feel the hamstrings lengthen, that’s when you want to come back up.

This video illustrates the difference between the Romanian and Stiff-Legged Deadlift, they’re easy to confuse.

Bulgarian Split Squats: These are great for the glutes I find. 4 sets of 10 reps each leg @ 60lbs.

Standing Lunges: A great exercise to pair with the split squat. 4 sets of 10 reps each leg @ 60lbs.

Okay that was all for legs, went on to arms next.

Seated Concentration Curl Cable Machine: I usually use this machine for warmups, but decided to do heavy curls with it today instead. After standard warmups (this was my first bicep movement today) I went to it. Set 1) 6 reps each arm @ 90lbs. Sets 2 & 3) 6 reps each arm @ 80lbs, slower eccentric movement. Set 4) 8 reps ea. @ 70lbs. Set 5) 10 reps ea. @ 60lbs (extremely slow eccentric movement on the final set and even slower on the final reps, 5-10 second down).

Tricep Extension Machine: Again after standard warmups, I did another machine isolation exercise I usually use only for warming up, and focused on the slower tempo and heavier weights. Set 1) 6 reps @ 90lbs. Sets 2 & 3) 8 reps @ 80lbs. Set 4) 10 reps @ 70lbs. Set 5) 12 reps slow tempo @ 60lbs.

French Press w/ Underhand Gripped Bicep Curls: Decided to do a superset to speed things up and make it a little more intense. 3 sets of 12 reps presses / 10 reps curls. Started at a 1-1-3 tempo and descended to a 1-1-6 tempo, and greater on the last few reps.

Chin-ups w/ Dips: A nice way to finish any bicep/tricep workout. 3 sets of 8 reps each.

That was definitely a 3 hour exercise, felt real good after. The weather is really a bummer though, missing the Saturday morning 10K I had planned. Am going to have to take any opportunity that comes up to catch up on my training for spring’s half marathon. Anyways, hope you all enjoy your weekends!

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Exercise Log 2.8.14 (Back Day, No Cardio)

Quick log for today’s back workout. Had a great time and feel great now that it’s over, better than I did last week.

Changed my back warmup this week (normally did rows on a machine) to pair up a light set of bent over rows and good mornings. Also did appropriate warmup sets prior to deadlifts.

Deadlifts: Today I wasn’t sure how this would go but I started with what I regard as heavy and after I woke myself up, I started feeling real good. Fun story though on what happened in a sec. Set 1) 5 reps @ 245lbs. Set 2) 5 reps @ 245lbs. Set 3) 5 reps @ 265lbs (slow but all pulls were very good). Okay at this point I decided to try to push up, I had no intent to try another “one rep max” set like I had the last few weeks but I just felt so good here I wanted to try anyways. After a few reps of 275, which went with ease, I tried a pull at 285 and didn’t budge it on the first try (stopped myself before I got too far into the pull so didn’t fatigue myself trying).

As I was waiting to regather my senses, an older gym patron decided he needed to give me a bunch of advice. I’m still not sure his advice was good (he insisted I needed to dig my hips lower and throw my eyes up, I’m typically against contorting the head during any movement try to keep it in line with the spine) but I don’t like getting in a pissing fit so I listened to the advice. Eventually I tried to ignore what he was saying, and try that 285 pull again. So I tried it, but as I did it he was talking, and when doing a complicated lift you need all that mental focus you can get, and the distraction had me lose control of my grip. I had to return the weight to the floor before a full and proper lockout to stay safe, but I did get the weight up and I was standing upright with it.

So… Set 4) 3 reps @ 275lbs, 1 rep @ 285lbs (no full lockout). Set 5) 5 reps @ 225lbs. After this set, the old man was gone to the other side of the gym, and I had a moment to think. I really felt good today and wanted to try that 285 pull again, and this time do it with a clear head and focus. I had a very hard time getting off the ground, I lost a lot of that energy on the previous pull which was clean on the liftoff, but when the weight finally went up I did lock it out. Set 6) 1 rep @ 285lbs (full lockout, shakey pull but new max!). Finally ended with a nice drop set of 12 reps @ 135lbs.

For anyone who has had this experience, I just want to remind people no matter how good you think your advice is, honestly how someone exercises is none of your business unless you’re a personal trainer who they asked for advice. Next time I get distracted like that I’m going to have to politely ask the person to step off or get the gym staff involved. It’s one thing if I’m curling, but deadlifting is complicated and requires your full attention.

Barbell Shrugs: The only place to do seated overhead shrugs at the gym is a little too high for me to reach the rack. The trap shrug machine is also a little redundant. So I figured I’d do trap shrugs today right where I was doing the deadlifts, and honestly I can’t recall the last time I did conventional trap shrugs with a free weight. Sets 1 & 2) 10 reps @ 135lbs. Sets 3 & 4) 10 reps @ 185lbs. Set 5) 20 reps @ 135lbs. Noting I lost grip tightness on the fourth set. Why a trap exercise on back day? Well I’m classifying the trapezius as upper back for the purposes of my workout schedule, because it’s a nice strong supportive muscle so it just pairs well with the weights used on back day. It also lets me focus more just on delts for chest day.

T-Bar Rows: Sets 1-3) 10 reps @ 70lbs. Sets 4 & 5) 8 reps @ 90lbs.

Back Hyperextensions: Set 1) 10 reps (count pose). Sets 2-4) 10 reps (superman pose)

1-Armed Dumbbell Rows: Started heavier than I could handle then went down, so a weird juxtaposition, but sometimes that’s good. Set 1) 6 reps each arm @ 80lbs. Sets 2 & 3) 8 reps ea. @ 70lbs. Set 4) 10 reps @ 60lbs.

Bent-Over Rows: Sets 1-3) 10 reps @ 110lbs. Felt really good contraction here.

Lateral Pulldowns w/Underhand Grip: It always amuses me to read these results in a long workout because my handwriting degrades as the sets go on. By here it’s no longer staying in the lines of the page or fully forming letters, I didn’t even write “underhand grip” here just “under”. Sets 1 & 2) 12 reps @ 85lbs. Sets 3 & 4) 10 reps @ 100lbs.

Pull-Ups (wide grip): 3 sets of 7 reps. Did a few forced negatives as my body was tired from the workout.

No cardio today, had a few errands to take care of, like hitting the hot tub and buying a new gym bag. Fun times though, and a great workout. At home now writing this I have that post-workout “glow” going on in full effect.

A couple notes for next week: On the next developmental day, I need to do a good core workout and hit my abs pretty hard, I just don’t work them much anymore. Also on my next cycle, I’m going to emphasise high volume and light weights, to redouble up on my form and let my body grow a bit. I don’t want to be making every workout a new max rep pull workout. I’ll start that on the next cycle’s back day… hoping it gives me a nice change of pace.

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