the zercher standard
antidote to weakness
Honestly this is just how it feels! It’s rare to stumble upon something feeling as raw as this. Zercher exercises are brutal reality check every time. Its like one of those things one would rather not do — not ever — unless there is no other way.
Herein lies the problem. There is always another way, preferably some easier way to do things, which majority is always pursuing. In case you haven’t figured it out, this is not how you get stronger, tougher nor feel safer for that matter. Wilful exposure to discomfort is the best working strategy to face — what you aren’t ready for — but need to be ready for. It’s never just about strength, muscle gains, conditioning or how fit you are. All that are just a welcome side effects of your personal journey through tough as nails workouts which I see as an antidote to becoming weak, soft and a burden to society.
“Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.”
— G. Michael Hopf, Those Who Remain
The Zercher Standard starts with a fat axle deficit deadlift to get you into the Zercher squat position from which you need to deliver 10 full depth squats, returning the bar — without dropping — back to the floor. You have 60sec to achieve all this, need to use a 50mm fat axle and start from 13-15cm deficit.
You need to log in at this point as what you see bellow are levels for an average 25 years old male, your numbers might be very different as they are individualised to your age, height, weight, etc. but its impossible to show you your data if you are not logged in.
> Level 3 Guardian ~ 130kg > Level 2 Fit human ~ 90kg > Level 1 Homo sapiens ~ 55kg
- - - - - ~ sub:level demi-sapiens 40kg … non:level non-fit creature 30kg or less
This is simply a brutally hard exercise. It may be — in my opinion — one of the best all-round strength exercises to transform you both physically and mentally. Zercher exercises are unique, they look strange, are tough, yet extremely beneficial while requiring very little to almost no skill at all. Contrary to all the logic they are great and quite safe for most beginners.
You don’t need to take my word for it so here is what the legendary powerlifter, strength coach and owner of Westside Barbell, Louie Simmons has to say on the benefits of the Zercher squats:
“It teaches you exactly how to squat. It teaches you to push your knees apart. Push your chest up. Push your buttocks out. The whole nine yards.”
— Louie Simmons, Westside Barbell
Louie believes Zercher squat is great for squatting mechanics, especially for beginners. It forces an athlete to maintain an upright posture throughout the movement and allows for a deeper squat than the majority of people can achieve in the more traditional squats.
The name of the article is the Zercher Standard by which I wanted to imply that it covers more than just a Zercher squat but that being said — the squatting part constitutes by far the most dominant movement of the whole standard which I am about to introduce in detail.
When things are so great that you don’t know what to say. This is all I can come up with at the moment to describe how much fun I had being a host to those good people.
You can all be much more then you think you are if you can get past initial discomfort associated with a challenging environment you are afraid to set foot in. Work hard to justify your presence, give more than you take and you will always leave richer for it.
I made many new friends this week and strengthened the old ones. Thank you all for the trust you have placed in me.
Tom, David and Alex are dedicated, focused and knowledgeable coaches from Hy3rid Coaching. Sometimes they do a terrific job to hide all of that behind comedy gold scenes, usually on their own expense but look past all that and they are as passionate as it gets when it comes to learning and improving.
You guys are always welcome at my place!
Quality of your bodyweight on a scale from 0 to 100%
Superfit Index (SFI™) is a unique algorithm that rates your bodyweight in percentage. No complicated measurements are needed to make the analysis. Your age, height, weight, gender and body composition are taken into account and combined into a single number, your personal Superfit Index (%).
You need to log in at this point and have your Superfit Index calculated to be shown your results when you read this article.
Information you enter assigns you to at least one of the four possible criteria:
> Level 1 Homo sapiens > Level 2 Fit human - - - - - > Level 3a Superfit Endurance > Level 3b Superfit Strong
We will return to these bodyweight criteria again as I write more about each later in the article. Additionally, for deeper understanding of your own results we shall analyse a fairly typical result from a person that trains on a regular basis. What follows is an actual result from someone who I will disguise simply as Joe. Let us take a look at Joe's results.
It’s been long time in the making and far from some rushed decision primarily because of sentimental reasons attached to the old name of how I used to call my private gym. I called it simply the gym because that’s exactly what it was to me and what it represented.
At the time when I established and opened the gym the idea was to remain private and without a published private address to find it. My mistake at the time was that I didn’t check/secure appropriate social media usernames for it while the .com domain with such a name was obviously not available long before.
The reputation of my - the gym - started to grow beyond the borders of Slovenia, getting visited by select foreign coaches I noticed all kinds of similar or same names emerging on popping up on social media and elsewhere around the world. My initial idea for a name — even though it made sense – meaning wise — was just too generic that it would be reasonable to expect it will remain as that one and only the gym.
Initial thought about the name change emerged to me probably more than a year ago but it was far from simple to come up with a worthy replacement, which was unique, meaningful and something relatable to the core values of my gym and my self. To make it all even more complicated it had to be possible to secure .com domain for it + usernames for all the most important social media accounts to solidify and assure its original status.
I honestly love this new name, not just because it goes nicely in the ear but more so as it radiated core values which are important to me.
There will also be a website on the domain gymjustified.com once I settle for its design but for the time being you can already find/follow it on Facebook - Instagram - Twitter as @gymjustified account.
Current design is something I temporarily came up with and will be used until this gets developed further. Even though the plan is to let someone with much better skills then my self do the job, current take is already quite growing on me so we’ll see.
Bodyweight Espresso workout
+ how not to be a goldfish
Minimalistic, short and simple bodyweight workout that can be done almost anywhere. You don’t need to do all your workouts in the gym, some are best done outdoors, like this one which I did during family vacation.
It’s one of my old evergreens that never fails to challenge my whole body, demanding balanced overall strength and good level of conditioning. The addition of espresso in the name indicates this workout was intended — at least for me — to be effective and short. Some are yet to find out, short is a relative term, when applied to their level of fitness.
questions for this deadlift
I am writing them down for your convenience because the average user might ask something similar to this. In fact such questions should be asked and one should know the answers why one does some exercise a certain way.
The point behind those questions is, that if someone starts to dissect your workout choices and routines, you need to know the answers behinds every possible why one might come up with.
Do you know why you train like you do? Do you actually know? Should you know? If not you, who then should know? Realistically though, very very few actually know if asked.
The purpose of posting the questions was not as much to answer them, as it was to make you think. Do you just blindly follow something without actually knowing any answers why?
answers about that deadlift
I find the most logical way to describe it is fat axle deficit deadlift. Majority would recognise that what I am doing is a variation of conventional stance deadlift, this particular version being one of my favorites. It’s true that on that particular day I did not even plan to do any deadlifts but even so they can be an excellent overall warmup exercise because it activates my whole posterior chain. The deficit part demands additional stretch and more quadriceps activation, longer range of motion, making it all the more complete as a warmup choice.
fat axle, no chalk, 21 reps, etc.
I prefer to use the fat axle whenever weights lifted remain relatively low, it allows me to additionally train my grip strength. To use chalk would somewhat defeat the purpose of that grip training, especially since the weight used here is “only” 101kg. I am using a raw fat axle, 50mm thick. There is no knurling nor marking of any kind on this axle, it’s really slick — custom made to my liking. This fat axle is a little bit shorter then a regular weightlifting bar but it weighs 31kg empty, which is why the total came to be 101kg.
Those 21 reps are of course not magical, they happened by accident as I miscounted while trying to do a warmup set of 20 reps. Touch’n go is my preferred style for deadlifts with high rep numbers — coupled with willfully lacking complete hip extension on top — which provides for more time under tension as well.
lack of full hip extension
Additional clarification regarding my lack of full hip extension. I don’t compete in neither powerlifting, CrossFit or any other sport where there are competition rules in place — where you need to sufficiently lean back with your shoulders for lift to count or to count your reps — I have no need to adhere to such regulation. Have you ever wondered why and how Olympic weightlifters do not execute deadlifts without full hip extension on top, leaning back with their shoulders? It's because — in addition creating a wrong muscle memory for the sport of weightlifting — it also creates a potential for injury as you loose some lower back tightness without any obvious benefit other then adhering to the rules of certain sport.
no mixed grip
Similarly — as I don’t compete — mixed grip also makes no sense for me. It's bad for your body as it leads to ever growing irregularities between your left/right side — which then cause new problems — adding to risk of injuries. If it were up to me I would ban mixed grip. Strongest people would remain strongest people even without mixed grip as demonstrated by strongman events where they use straps — while lifting the heaviest deadlifts — which eliminates the need for mixed grip all-together. That being said I don’t judge anyone who decides to use mixed grip, assuming they are aware of irregularities this develops and systematically work towards fixing the issues this creates.
13cm of deficit
The deficit used in the video is quite big and there is no other specific reason other than I just happen to have those jerk boxes that high by default. My flexibility allows me to use them for deadlifts, so those 13cm of depth, makes for quite a unique deficit deadlift. Such depth is quite unusual and is not something I would generally recommend. Usually you would use something like 2-3cm, stacked maybe up to 10cm at most. Long story short, deficit is great for additional range of motion, flexibility and muscle activation, improved pulling power + I prefer this version of the deadlift.
slamming the weights
As a general rule I never slam the weights. I prefer to control the weight and not the other way around. It's harder but you lift like a boss. Contrary to opinion of some, slamming shows bad manners and disrespect to equipment, to the gym and the whole gym community where you train. Slamming is never justified and dropping should only be tolerated/reserved for Olympic weightlifting.
chinese plank hold • for time
How long can you hold a Chinese plank? No skill and no technique needed for this either with bonus that you can almost certainly try this at home with hardly any risk.
You need to log in at this point, content bellow, like the standards will then be individualized to your age, height, weight, etc.
> Level 3 Guardian 06 min+ > Level 2 Fit human 03 min+ > Level 1 Homo sapiens 90 sec+
- - - - - ~ sub:level demi-sapiens 55 sec … non:level non-fit creature 30 sec or less
Everyone should be able to hold at least close to a minute and a half. I am not for example expecting of you a Shaolin monk like ability who can easily hold this position while meditating. They do it for other reasons probably but for modern human its really hard to find a more simple — yet useful — exercise to strengthen your lower back without moving and just holding still. It doesn’t work just your lower back, expect to feel a notable burning sensation in hamstrings and your butt as well. What’s great about this exercise is that even if you are really bad when you first try it, big improvements are possible in short time.
Arms need to be on your tummy or hips. You can also relax/extend arms to gently touch but not push against the floor. Having your hands behind your neck makes it all somewhat easier so it doesn't count as a valid standard.
What matters is that you hold as horizontal position as you can, for this reason setting your height to only 10-15cm above the floor can already be high enough and as safe as it gets.
Height of your two blocks, bolsters, bumpers, chairs, benches, etc. doesn’t really matter that much. You can improvise as long as what you use is safe but in general remain at/or lower than a bench height.
Only minimal support from upper part of shoulders and tip of your heels is allowed. I show this nicely on the photo.
Listening to the music, watching Netflix or even falling asleep is allowed as long as your form remains intact.