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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 1.31.14 (Back Day, No Cardio)

Okay quick log for today’s back workout. I had a nap attack again today while pulling into Sheetz for a bit of caffeine pep, but maybe that’s for the best to just take the naps when they come. Today’s workout was absolutely monsterous, for me at least… probably one of the hardest I’ve had in weeks. As mentioned before I no longer list warmup sets, so always assume I did some necessary warmups first.

Deadlifts: Today I had a breakthrough on deadlifts. I felt real good about my form especially in the initial drive upwards, and I increased all my weight levels. I’ll get to where that got me in a second. Set 1) 5 reps @ 245lbs. Set 2) 5 reps @ 255lbs. Set 3) 5 reps (individual, slow) @ 265lbs (this is my previous max). I felt real confident by this point, so I tried for 275lbs. I gotta say this was the first deadlift in a while I really taxed my body to the max to perform. I even had a problem locking out at the top, I was so physically expended. It literally took every ounce of energy my body had to get the weight up, but I did it! Set 4) 1 rep @ 275lbs (new max)! After this, I tried a set at 255lbs but was so blown out that I had to drop down to 245lbs. Set 5) 5 reps @ 245lbs (this was super slowww, I literally had to fight to get through this one after that monster lift). Set 6) 5 reps @ 235lbs.

If you work out routinely and push yourself to the limits on a lift, you sometimes have these moments where you are so physically taxed that you go to wipe the sweat from your forehead and you’re just surprised that it’s not blood… because you feel like you just got the shit beat out of you. Today’s new max deadlift and yesterday’s “proper form” of my max front squat both left me feeling like that. I had a very low energy reserve by the time deadlifting was done, but I made it through the rest of my back day… somehow. I almost considered going home after the deadlifting… it was 40 minutes and I was beat!

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

Lateral Rows (wide grip): Sets 1-3) 8 reps @ 115lbs. Sets 4-5) 6 reps @ 130lbs.

One Armed Dumbbell Rows: 4 sets of 8 reps each hand @ 70lbs.

Bent-Over Rows: 3 sets of 8 reps @ 110lbs. By this point in the workout I was literally about to fall over from the overall physical expenditure. Which is good!

Lateral Pushdowns (wide grip): 4 sets of 8 reps @ 55lbs. This is a cool way to work the back from a different angle, I like it and will have to do it more often.

That was it… I had zero energy to give after this. I also had a slight pull in my left hip extensor from the deadlift, probably that max load set. I feel like it’ll be fine and won’t hinder me whatsoever, but it’s a sign that perhaps I should be cautious, and I’m definitely not doing any cardio on that leg while it still feels strained. Let it rest a day. Hell, let my whole body rest a day! I’ve earned it!

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Exercise Log 1.30.14 (Dev Day, No Cardio)

Visited a new gym today which was a fun change of pace. Very laid back, very relaxed and a fun experience. The gym is good too but I’ll be sticking with the gym near my work for the time being. If I ever get a disposable income though, I could see myself making this place a secondary membership. It will also be the go-to place should I want to work out with a friend since the day rate is good and no questions asked.

Alright today was developmental day, and that means working on the parts of me that need the most work. Unless otherwise stated, assume every exercise listed has an appropriate warmup first.

Front Squats: After spending a few weeks revising my front squat form to improve it and feel more confident with myself, I finally caught up to my previous (dodgy form) one rep max and I put all my working sets above 135lbs so felt really good! Sets 1 & 2) 5 reps @ 135lbs. Set 3) 5 reps @ 145lbs. Set 4) 3 reps @ 155lbs, 1 rep @ 165lbs (finally with good form!). Sets 5 & 6) 5 reps @ 145lbs (slowed it down a bit, focused on the harder weight). Set 7) 5 reps @ 135lbs. I intended for that final set to be a drop set of like 8-10 reps, but that just wasn’t happening after this squat workout.

Seated Rows: Set 1) 10 reps @ 90lbs. Set 2) 10 reps @ 110lbs. Set 3) 8 reps @ 130lbs (poor form). Set 4) 8 reps @ 120lbs (better form but not great). Set 5) 12 reps @ 90lbs.

“Ab Solo” Machine: This is a goofy machine that you do ab crunches with a ball over your head and then toss it into a net that delivers it back to where you pick it up (at the peak of your ab crunch). It was cool and fun but I was goofing off by being on it, I don’t do a lot of crunch exercises for my core. I did 2 sets till I was sick of it, about 20 reps I’d imagine. It was fun, but it was goofing off more than anything. It did actually work the abs for what it’s worth.

Goofy looking, but fun.

Pull-ups: 3 sets of 8 reps of wide gripped pull ups. Took a lot of pauses to get the pulls right, I’m still a very weak pull up person a lot of the reps probably were not as high as the average person would probably do them.

Goblet Squats: To reinforce my squat patterns, figured I’d do some goblet squats. I think I was extra tired after those squats, so these were slow and not quite as much volume as I’d like. Set 1) 10 reps @ 70lbs. Set 2) 8 reps @ 80lbs. Sets 3 & 4) 6 reps @ 90lbs.

Chest-Focused Dips: Went to the dip machine and did some chest focused dips because I missed the opportunity to on my last chest day (the gym was stupid busy). When doing chest focused dips you want to lean your upper body forward and your bottom part of your body back so you’re leaning into your chest muscles, making it not all tricep work. These were hard, twice I almost tipped myself into a swing and fell at the final rep, which was good. Did 4 sets of 8 reps.

Today is a day off and I’m sorely in need of a night to just chill and relax, so I headed home after this and skipped cardio, but it was a fun time!

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Exercise Log 1.27.14 (Chest Day + Cardio)

Finally got back to the gym, the weather is still awful but the roads were fine this evening so it was time to play catchup. It wasn’t just me though, it was everyone at the gym including all the newbies with New Year’s Resolutions. Our gym is too packed to really want more people involved. On days like this at my gym you gotta simply be willing to go with what is available. As mentioned in previous posts, if I don’t say so please assume I do standard warmups prior to each exercise.

Flat Bench Press: I had a few great arm days this last month, but kind of awful chest days. Low energy, not enough rest, poor development. Last week was alright. I felt pretty good going into today. Sets 1-2) 5 reps @ 135lbs. Set 3) 5 reps @ 145lbs. Set 4) 3 reps @ 155lbs. I felt pretty confident with these presses, so I decided to rack a new weight and tried for it… and succeeded! I finished this set with 1 rep @ 165lbs. Set 5) 5 reps @ 145lbs. Set 6) 5 reps @ 135lbs. Set 7) 5 reps @ 135lbs (slower form). Set 8) 8 reps @ 125lbs (drop set).

Dumbbell Chest Press: I set out with 60 reps using a pair of 50lb dumbbells. Took about 7 sets to make this happen.

One Armed Cable Flys: Lacking the room to set about something good, I decided to do flys one armed off an open cable machine. Set at chest level, just did the “pledge of allegiance” pose with one arm over the working pec and bringing the other arm out in a fly pattern. This felt real good and felt like it worked the muscle, a lot of cable machines are focus because as mentioned before if you go too heavy on weight you wind up working too many other muscle groups. Sets 1-2) 10 reps each arm @ 30lbs. Sets 3-4) 10 reps each arm @ 40lbs. Set 5) 10 reps each arm @ 50lbs.

Declined Bench Press: Unable to find a good place to do lower angled cable flys or declined dumbbell flys, and somehow lacking the energy to do a lot of pushups (maxing out your bench press will do that to you). So I found an open declined bench press and figured my priority right now was to work the chest from a different angle. Set 1) 8 reps @ 95lbs. Sets 2-5) 5 reps @ 125lbs.

Military Press: Switching to shoulders, I did 3 sets of 8 reps @ 70lbs of military presses.

Reverse Deltoid Flys superset with Side Raises: Using a pair of 20lb dumbbells I did some supersets, 10 reps of reverse flys and 8 reps of side raises for 3 sets.

Reverse Deltoid Fly Machine: Wanting to drill in the reverse pattern movement to compliment the bench pressing, I wrapped up with 3 sets of 10 reps @ 90lbs. I was pretty beat, and felt like this was a great one.

Got a great run in with my running partner, setting out for 4 miles at a moderate to intense pace. Still training for that 10K in February, just hope the weather permits the run to happen! The big picture isn’t just that run though, it’s the half marathon in the spring!

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Exercise Log 1.21.14 (Leg Day + Cardio)

I’m still in catchup log mode so this will be another short log. As mentioned in the last few logs, I’m no longer listing out my warmup sets, always assume that before the first few listed exercises that I do a standard 1-3 set pattern of warmups relevant to the exercise. So the sets listed are my working sets, the warmup sets are not listed.

Front Squats: Quick note before getting into sets. I’m still doing my “two steps back one step forward” reworking of my squat depth. I’m feeling real good about my new form but it’s limiting my max weight a bit. To reinforce the new form and fatigue my muscles in a different way, I focused more on volume than max weight so much. Sets 1 & 2) 8 reps @ 115lbs. Sets 3 & 4) 8 reps @ 125lbs. Set 5) 5 reps @ 135lbs. Set 6) 5 reps @ 145lbs (my pace was diminished by this point). Failed 155lbs twice before continuing (still working on form, and definitely was fatigued a bit from the previous sets). Set 7) 10 reps @ 95lbs (drop set).

Angled Leg Press & Calf Raises: Sets 1-4) 8 reps leg press/12 reps calf raises @ 360lbs. Sets 5 & 6) 8 reps leg press/8 reps calf raises @ 540lbs.

Standing Dumbbell Lunges: 5 sets of 8 reps @ 50lbs. This was more than I was used to so as I got to the final few reps form got really sloppy. I almost fell over once I think. It was great though and good volume.

Stiff Legged Deadlifts: 4 sets of 10 reps @ 110lbs.

This being leg day cardio is hard because it’s essentially overworking the leg exercises. Even though I didn’t go through that many actual leg exercises today there was definitely a lot of added volume and intensity to the workout today. So I went initially intending to go for a pretty constant run of 3 miles at a good hard pace, but pooped out at 2 miles. The leg fatigue made it hard to push myself too hard on the treadmill, but I did get in enough cardio I think to carry me for today.

I’m not sure if arm day will happen for me tomorrow, but I’ll try to make it happen… potentially at home. I have a fun indoor rock climbing bouldering night with a Meetup group, I have no idea if that will be physically demanding or not so I may limit whatever workout I do to conserve. Should be fun!

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Exercise Log 1.15.14 (Arm Day, No Cardio)

Quick log before bed, had a late workout tonight at home and really had a ton of fun, thought I’d share it.

Today was arm day, and I was real lethargic and lazy today so I wasn’t sure I could make it happen. After a long day at work I crashed with a nap, and after waking up I wasn’t sure if I was going to make a workout happen at all tonight. As I was thinking of things to do, I ran across an old page on Scooby’s Workshop with arm workout routines and found a workout with three arm supersets in a high volume, high intensity, low rest routine. I liked the idea, so I thought up my own supersets and added a couple extra rounds of exercise to it. The result was fantastic and left me feeling pumped up.

So here was my workout, rep counts were chosen on the first round by what I felt was appropriate for each exercise. Started naturally with a couple sets of warmup exercises.

– Chin-ups (8 reps)
– Dips, Body Weight (12 reps)
– Bicep Curls (10 reps, 65lbs)
– Narrow Grip Bench Press (12 reps, 65lbs)
– Reverse Grip Bicep Curls (12 reps, 45lbs)
– French Press (16 reps, 45lbs)

So swapped from each exercise with no rest then took 1-3 minutes or so of rest inbetween sets and ran this pattern for 5 rounds. The 5th round was special though. I decreased the tempo of the eccentric portion of every move during the final round of exercises, going nice and slow on every rep, and this really absolutely killed it. You could easily vary the weight to your appropriate levels and rep counts to what makes sense for the weight you’re using. The pump was incredible and that’s always a fun part of arm day.

One extra benefit of this workout was it’s speed. Despite the volume, doing these all nonstop and taking few breaks made my workout very fast all considered. Going to have to try this more often on arm day.

Skipped cardio again today… not trying to deliberately be lazy but just not finding the time or energy. It’s okay to slow down this time of year though, but not too much I’ll be sure to get some good cardio in again soon. The weather is good for it, and I gotta get at least one good long run in before it gets colder or snowy.

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Exercise Log 1.11.14 (Back Day + Cardio)

Alright had an awesome workout today so thought I’d take a moment to share. Today was back day and per the usual, the gym is getting busier with the “New Year’s Resolution” crowd showing up. It’s the same as around the time I signed up last year, only I don’t do New Year Resolutions it just so happened the time I decided to join a gym was early in the year.

With the new crowd, I’m noticing all sorts of weird things with people’s forms, workout habits and just with the busy busy. Anyways that said I had a fantastic day at the gym and after.

Had kind of a false start today with stiff legged deadlifts. Did 2 sets of 10 @ 110lbs then saw the open squat rack was open to rack up for deadlifting (I don’t like to rack deadlifts off the power rack, that’s something I see exclusively for squatters). So I decided to stop and swap to deadlifts while I was still fresh, good call!

Deadlifts: Warmups) 10 reps @ 135lbs. Set 1) 5 reps @ 185lbs. Set 2) 5 reps @ 225lbs. Set 3) 5 reps @ 245lbs. Set 4) 1 rep @ 265lbs, new max! Set 5) Forced negatives, 275lbs down then 225lbs up. Completed 3 reps before grip strength became a concern. Set 6) 8 reps @ 195lbs.

One great thing about the deadlift is it reveals weak spots, in this situation the forced negatives showed me that my grip strength definitely needed work. I could support the weight fine, but holding the bar for more than a few reps became wearisome fast.

Stiff Legged Deadlifts (2 sets prior to deadlifting, 3 after): 5 sets, 8 reps @ 110lbs. Palms out grip, this also was nice as it helped work on grip strength as I normally don’t grip this way.

Seated Rows (needed to sit down!): Sets 1 & 2) 8 reps @ 135lbs. Sets 3 & 4) 6 reps @ 150lbs. Set 5. 5 reps @ 165lbs. The heavier sets also helped me focus a bit on grip strength.

Lateral Pulldowns: Set 1) 5 reps @ 160. Sets 2 & 3) 5 reps @ 145lbs. Set 4) 8 reps @ 130lbs. Set 5) 8 reps @ 115lbs.

One Armed Dumbbell Rows: 5 sets 10 reps each hand @ 65lbs. Chose a heavy dumbbell to work on grip strength.

Finished off the gorgeous day with a run out in Monroeville Community Park. Found a break in the rain (albeit it was very windy to start things calmed down as I went) and knocked out 5 miles. Took some photos for posterity.

May look dark and stormy but I told those clouds to pipe the fuck down!

That’s all great workout!

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Exercise Log 1.8.14 (Dev Day + Cardio)

Alright Development day was a bit up and down because the gym was super packed and busy so gym equipment was not open. Still I had a fantastic workout, which is good because I also took two days of rest off after (in a ROW, holy balls) to let my poor worn out and tired hands rest. They’re beat up from moving freight at work, from fighting with cats, from gripping a bag wrong during my last home workout and the torn calluses never fully healed… sometimes it’s just good to let your body recoup and it seemed like a good excuse to relax. This workout was light on the weight side so I went for more volume with most of these exercises.

Goblet squats: 5 sets 10 reps @ 60lbs (light weight to warm up my body)

Seated rows: Sets 1-3) 10 reps @ 135lbs. Sets 4-5. 6 reps @ 150lbs.

Angled Leg Press / Calf Raise supersets: 6 sets 10 reps pressing/10 reps calf raises @ 360lbs.

Preacher curls (at the curl bench not the machine): 5 sets 10 reps @ 50lbs.

Standard Push-ups: 5 sets of 20 reps (100 reps total)

Overhead Barbell Trap Shrugs: 5 sets 12 reps @ 95lbs

Chin-ups: 5 sets of 8 reps. Jumped to start and did not have to break in the middle of each set.

Deadlifts: This is what I came in for initially but it took the whole workout to find the time to actually get at a rack where I could rack the weight. So two things I learned tonight, I’ll share real quick before listing off sets.

Scott Herman demonstrates hip drive during the deadlift

First, here Scott Herman illustrates how to produce hip drive and load up. Since my last workout where I had the issue of the gym patron giving me pointers, I wanted to learn more about the loaded position. This is a nice full illustration, but one thing I want to point out that was especially important to me to learn. At 3:35 Scott gets ready for the lift, and as he gets into the loaded position, you’ll see he stands his hips up while holding the bar, then dips down briefly to drive the legs up. This I feel helps a ton.

The second important deadlift point I learned, is that if you grip the bar and then twist your hands slightly while holding tight, it tightens your grip a bit and the bar slipping is less of an issue (I was having bad callus tears as I’d mentioned before due to slipping). So this is a nice little way to “cinch up” before pulling upward and encourages a little tighter grip which is all the difference in the world, really.

All said I did not pull the new max I’d been trying to pull, but I felt very comfortable with what I did pull and felt great in general. Anyways onto the sets.

Sets 1 & 2) 10 reps @ 135lbs. Sets 2 & 3) 5 reps @ 185lbs. Sets 4 & 5) 5 reps @ 125lbs. Set 6) 2 reps @ 245lbs. Could’ve done 5 but instead I tried for 265, but failed 3 times and ended there.

For cardio tonight I did 3.3 miles on the treadmill at a decent run/jog pace. That’s it! Pretty simple but man, it was a full body workout if there ever was one.

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Exercise Log 1.7.14 (Arm Day, No Cardio)

Okay today I had an at home workout, it was a day off and I wanted to relax inside with the artic below zero temperature outside. The workout was a little slow and lazy, due to being in and having distractions, but I made up for it with getting more creative and doing more work. I was really happy with today’s workout.

Normally on arm day I do bicep/tricep supersets (usually do one bicep exercise that goes well with a tricep exercise). Today I split biceps and triceps into two separate workouts and felt like it did great. My biceps workout was victim to the most distraction by outside stuff, so I added a lot of extra volume to it.

So, first, biceps, after some warmup curls with light weight first of course…

Chin-Ups: 6 sets of 10 reps (in the door jam, difficult to grip no proper pullup bar)

Concentration Curls w/Forced Negatives: I loaded up a runner’s bag (the kind you get your race packets in, I have a bunch now) with dumbbells loading up to 45lbs. Then I did some forced negatives while standing upright. 5 sets of 8 reps each hand, slow descent. Felt great!

Preacher Curls: Using the stool and plank of laminate board I used to do inclined presses on my awful at home chest day, I leaned over it and set my arms on the board for preacher curls. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked. 8 reps @ 65lbs (curl bar) for 6 sets.

Standard Curls: Took my ez curl bar and did proper, standing curls, slow tempo. 6 sets 10 reps @ 65lbs.

Underhanded Curls superset with Drag Curls: 12 reps each movement @ 45lbs. Great way to end, a good burn.

Next, triceps, my triceps workout was more focused and intense not letting myself get distracted, and man it was tough. After tricep warmups I proceeded…

Weighted Dips: Used my stool and my bed to create a bridge to do dips from, then slapped 20lbs of weight in my lap for more resistance. Great burn to start. 6 sets of 12 reps.

Overhead Tricep Curl Bar Extensions: 6 sets of 12 reps @ 45lbs.

Skullcrushers superset with Tricep Hip Presses: 4 sets of 8 reps on skullcrushers and 10 reps on the hip presses (narrow grip) @ 65lbs.

One-Armed Tricep Dumbbell Extensions: Laid on my back, gripped a light 15lb dumbbell and did curls with my palm facing forward. Very effective, focused on form. 4 sets of 10 reps each hand.

Sounds a lot shorter, but each of those were much more appropriately intense and effective than the bicep run. And that’s it! Fun workout day at home concluded, and this one was actually good unlike last time. Still doing alright with my limited gear, although one of these days I dream of a complete home gym… well, it’s nice to have goals. Next few workouts will definitely be at the gym!

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Exercise Log 1.6.14 (Rest Day Log, Cardio only)

Just wanted to post a quick log. Ran today for 6 miles on the treadmill which was my only exercise, missed going to yoga so when I got home just before bed I did some lengthy stretching for 30-40 minutes that was very refreshing.

I thought now would be a good time to do another progress update on how my workout plan has been going. Since my last update (11/24) I definitely feel like I’ve made progress, but a lot of it has been 2 steps back, 1 step forward. I’ve revised my form a lot in some of my lifts and constantly am researching better patterns, but these adjustments take time to get used to. I’m noticing in my last three weeks not a lot of progress not sure if that’s a potential plateau creeping up or not, but my response to it is to switch up my style a bit and focus less on volume-based workouts for hypertrophy response and more on strength training, taking my time and doing heavy sets when possible. I’d rather have dense muscle than big muscle, I think, and the result is shorter more intense workouts.

This also goes well with winter, because everyone moves slower when it’s cold like this outside so keeping it short and intense is what I need. I definitely feel like in the last month I’ve had substantially less actual energy to work with day to day than the month previous. I really should reassess how I eat, but that’s another whole different blog.

All updates are since my 11/24 update. Goals are on the left, current maxs next to it, then how much I’ve changed since 11/24 at the end. (I’ve removed back squats from the program because, well, I just don’t care as much what my max back squat is as I do front squatting.)

Goal & Progress Log (last update Nov. 24th)

Deadlift of 400lbs (current max 255lbs) +10lbs
Front squat of 200lbs (current max 165lbs) +30lbs
Bench press of 185lbs (current max 155lbs) +10lbs
5K pace 23:00 (personal record 23:58) (no new races)

My next race is a 10K in February, January is shaping up to be an artic cold month so my cardio plan is just to maintain with runs at the gym as time permits.

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Exercise Log 1.1.14 (Dev Day + Cardio)

Had a fantastic developmental day for Jan 1st. Today I decided to focus on my bench press, as I’d done some research online to improve my bench press form. I think this video does a good job explaining good bench form.

My only compaint about the video is the demonstrating guy has a very thick core so it’s hard to see some of the nuance of the position in the demonstration.

Anyways one key thing I overlook is putting the elbows inward, and bringing the bar lower to touch just beneath the pecs. Scott Herman (another fitness vlogger on Youtube I often link) himself recommends not worrying so much about touching per se as range of motion, the angle of the elbows, but sometimes I think I use that posture to justify not going quite as low as I should, so I’m going to try to do more physical touching of the bar to my body.

Anyways, I also did some research on the stronglift 5×5 program, a simple weight lifting program that while very regimented is very simple. It’s a three day a week program of only two days, only three exercises per day, intended purely to improve lifting strength and nothing more. No muscle hypertrophy (because people with strong bodies wind up looking good either way) and no extra endurance work. Just focus on the 5×5 sets (that is, 5 sets of 5 reps, with the weight focus being on as hard and high as you can do 5 reps of safely with good form).

A good explanation of this is in a “workout A” demonstration video for the Stronglift 5×5 series.

A succinct way to explain a nice routine with a different approach, illustrated in this is bench form as well with comments. Notice this workout is only 30 minutes.

So let me contexualize this a bit. Stronglift 5×5 is a simple program that works to make you stronger, but ignores a lot of things that the author of the workout – Mehdi – believes is time wasting. He’s very strict about the form required, and the technique and how to apply it. Now I’m not a big follower of workout plans, part of what I enjoy about workouts is making my own plans and applying facets of successful techniques to my plans to change things up.

What I got from 5×5 is that sometimes if you want to get strong, particularly with compound lifting, try to keep it basic. Good form, big weight, consistent growth. I do this already to an extent but watching this video gave me a fresh perspective. I have things I don’t like about the program so I’m not going to suddenly switch to it… exercise is intensely personal, and my plan is mine, Mehdi’s is his, but his plan has a lot of interesting points to take and apply because I feel like me and him are actually similar gainers (his body type is very average, he doesn’t have any natural genetic gifts or a body type conducive to building muscle any more than the average person, but he’s in pretty good shape with his program).

So… rambling aside, I went straight into the bench press, I decided to warm up like Mehdi recommended (2 sets bare bar 5 reps, 1 set 3 reps at a middling weight of 95lbs). Then I picked a working weight of 135lbs (a nice round figure for benching since it’s just two 45lb plates on the bar). I was going to go beyond a 5×5 set plan but I often keep compound lift sets to 5 reps, and I did this today too. So sets 1-5 were 5 reps @ 135lbs. My focus was improving the form of the press, going a little lower to the bar (bringing it to touch my body, keeping my elbows in) and this was admittedly harder than I otherwise thought it would be. After this I decided to keep going because I wanted to push myself a little harder, just felt like it was good.

Set 6) 3 reps @ 145lbs (failed once or twice). Set 7) 1 rep @ 155lbs (my current max, there were 3 failures attempting to do more). It was nice to repeat my 155lb lift and today makes me feel like I can go heavier later. I also learned something admist all the failure reps. When you use the “roll of shame” method of saving yourself, you sit up with the barbell in a deadlifted position, I always had an issue with reracking the weight. Well I realized if instead of going forward off the bench to rerack, I scooted (controlled) backwards with the weight that I could nestle myself up to the second peg and rerack there. Then I could either flip around and trap shrug it up to the top peg, or unrack the weight and adjust the bar as needed. This is extremely valuable for me to know, honestly. It makes failing a rep not so bad.

After that third failure I decided to do drop sets. Sets 8 & 9) 8 reps @ 105lbs. These last two I cinched the new bench pressing form, and really felt it in my pecs. And that was the cue I was truly done on the bench today. Feeling great!

Next I did dumbbell chest presses, to reinforce the chest action and make up for the poor chest day. Did 7 sets of 6 reps @ 55lbs. Just kept it solid and took the necessary rest.

Next, barbell rows. This was demonstrated in the workout A video above. I kept it that simple too, 5 sets at the same weight he used in the video, 135lbs. This type of barbell row is very great. I will keep it for chest day as a reverse action exercise. My other reverse press exercise, body rows, was also something I decided to do 6 sets of 6 reps off the smith machine (about all the smith machine is good for, really).

Finally did crossover cable flys, something I missed doing on my previous chest day. 3 sets of 10 reps each hand, doing one armed flys with the cable at chest level going straight from side to side. I use my opposing hand to put it on my actual pec to make sure I’m feeling the contraction, call this the “pledge of allegiance” style.

Alright wrapped up with 5 miles on a light run, not a good pace but good cardio. I increased speed a few miles into the run to add intensity, and it did a good job I think getting me back into the cardio groove. Took a few progress pics, which I feel like is a good thing to do given it’s the dawn of a new year. Looking forward to 2014!

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