those who remain
“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
There was never a time in history when humans were weaker than they are today, physically, psychologically and morally …and so the analogy of Mr. Hopf describes where we are at, predicts what follows and explains why this cycle is so hard to break.
There is another way to read the citation by G. Michael Hopf.
Life will be hard for those who follow the weak and Life will be hard for those who become soft. And so solution is obvious, is it not?
“Do not wish it were easier, wish you were better!”
— Marck Goran Lorencin
t h e - n e v e r - m e
a prison of non change
There is always an underdog. Maybe this is you. Who? That most unlikely person to become a hero. If you were to be that person all the odds will be against you, there will be injustice, struggle, pain, fear, doubt and of course an epic challenge which you will surely fail.
You do not fail even when you face your darkest hour, somehow you overcome your weakness, suck in the pain, fight with everything you got, you rise victorious even when all hope is gone and the darkness was about to strike you down.
Yes, I am describing a plot of pretty much all epic stories ever filmed, written or spoken. For the hero to be born, for a person to become better, there is always a demanding journey to be done.
Stories like this are as old as we are as a species, they are a blueprint for how to become more than we are. With all the special effects added to the storytelling in movie format of today, our motivation skyrockets so easily, yet when the shit actually hits the fan in real life, when we face even the smallest odds against us we cry foul, we complain, we seek excuses, we call it unjust, undeserved and unfair, forgetting in an instant that this is exactly how and why those epic stories never speak of a billion heroes but just a few if not one. Why?
There is your problem right there. You don’t even know what is hard any more yet find everything to be hard all the time.
Have no time for a workout yet follow thousands of people on social media which fake their (digital) life. Watching tv shows every day is not a problem but those annoying commercials ruin all the fun. Then there was that idiot on the road driving like a snail because of a few raindrops, making it a goal (obviously) to make you late for work. You were about to finally go running, when rain (fate) prevented you from reaching your goals. Not to mention that during the summer it was too hot (not healthy), while during the winter is again too cold (not healthy) to do things outside but tropic room temperatures are normal (comfort uber ales). Elevator broke down and you had to take the stairs (like after a decade) which almost earned you a heart attack or at least ruined your t-shirt with sweat stains. The list never ends!
It is not supposed to be easy. For things to change for you, you have to change. There is no other way but for you to change. Its just like in the gym. Everyone had to start climbing their ladder of strength from their lowest level. The only way to get stronger is to pick a weight which is challenging enough to allow you to work with it, then progressively increase “the challenge” as you get stronger. Pick something which is too light (not challenging) and you will never improve. Pick something which is just comfortable (no change needed) and you will remain as you are.
We are made for the challenge. Easy to achieve goals are not a challenge. We become better when we overcome our limitations on consistent basis. The real challenge is never to reach the end of the line but to forever push it forward. Keep playing the game, finish it never.
Marck Goran Lorencin
elevated pistol standard
A pillar of legs athleticism
If I was allowed to use one single exercise to develop my lower body — sans use of weights or training equipment for additional stimulus — there is nothing better than Elevated Pistol squats. There is no other exercise that gives you such a fundamental way to gain strength, power, balance and flexibility of your lower body.
Note that I am not actually talking about the classic pistol squat which is the original variant. The Classic Pistol squat may be great for show but doesn’t allow you to stress the working leg to its full potential, that, plus it’s totally annoying and non-natural to squat while holding one leg extended in front of you that high.
Later in the article I will go into details, list incredible benefits of pistols and why my preferred variant is superior to original and so on — but for now — let us first take a look at the standard and dissect everything in more detail later.
The Elevated Pistol standard starts with you standing in the elevated position (as high as needed or preferred) so you can focus better on your working leg while being able to easily hold your free leg in the air even while you are in a deep squat position. Here is the catch, you need to test your weaker leg. Full squat depth, full hip extension on top each time, nice and clean execution, maximum reps in 90sec.
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 ~ 33 x > Level 2 Fit human ~ 20 x > Level 1 Homo sapiens ~ 6 x
- - - - - ~ sub:level demi-sapiens 1 x … non:level non-fit creature none
The single legged squat is a progression of the standard bodyweight squat. If you were to do the squat by standing on just one leg, the outward leg would need to be in front and pointing away from you, there by resembling “the pistol” position if observed from the side. Having such a cool name it was a given that everyone will want to show off with the pistol squat.
It can be done with or without weights, while holding a kettlebell or a dumbbell in front, from the floor or in elevated position, as an explosive one legged pistol jump from the floor onto a plyo box. There are plenty of ways to do both an easier as well as a harder version of the pistol squat but I believe the elevated pistol squat variant to be the most suitable to be used as a standard to train or test for.
johnny bravo is a fictional character, if you haven't watched the cartoon yet, please do …as this workout will immediately make a lot of sense. Johnny Bravo builder is one of my all time favourite Monday workouts. Originally this workout includes weights but as at the time of writing the whole world is in the middle of covid-19 lockdown — leaving only gym owners with access to the gyms — I did my best to create a weights free version of this iconic workout of mine, which so many of you love.
In additional to a pull up bar, you will need gymnastic rings for this workout or figure out some other way how to do and improvise dips, like between the chairs, dips on paralletes, dips on bench. I tried to keep the use of any equipment to the bare minimum but using less then this really wouldn't do the Johnny Bravo workout justice it deserves.
warmup @ 2 rounds
As always you an include any additional warmup exercises or routines you feel are needed, move from one exercise to the next based on how you feel …the goal is to reach high activation with the least energy spent to do so.
Now all of what follows are really simple tests and something that you should already know how to do but since we are doing the testing, think of this as a blank new page …let's make a deal that how you do those tests is with best possible form.
Best possible form probably means you will do less reps then you would want but this will give both you and I an opportunity to make you better and use this perfect form as a new baseline and from now on you do all those exercises same way as you will do them in testing
All I said should be self evident but trust me it is not because humans seem to have in their nature to “cheat a little” to feel better but you really would be cheating your self of quality progress so now is a perfect time to decide you will do all your repetitions better then ever and continue using new more honest form going forward.
You need to log in at this point to access the Johnny Bravo workout it self and to use the features, like dynamic algorithm which will individualise the reps for each exercise to your fitness level based on your test results. The registration is a two step process, it will ask you for weight, height, age, data as well as many things are taken into account not just for this workouts but for any other which I write.
This is an extreme squat challenge, both mentally and physically … and it’s not for everyone but if you love squats, have good technique, have no injuries or other health related issues that would make trying this a bad idea … then this is something you may consider from time to time as total mind fuck.
What you just read is the original introduction for my Squat to Valhalla challenge from 2016 and soon to be re-introduced to the public in the original version but updated with dynamic content to take advantage of tools built into my website.
Similarly to the Johnny Bravo bodyweight version — which I wrote because all but the gym owners have access to proper weight equipment in the time of global covid19 lockdown — I am inviting you to an extreme challenge, Squat to Valhalla - bodyweight edition.
There are no weights used but this doesn’t mean no weight will be used. You will need to find a training partner which will have a vip seat to watch your punishment. Depending on how strong you are or how many people you can reasonably choose from, to help you go through this challenge, you should choose wisely.
While the lockdown measures are in place, partner squats literally mean a partner from your own household, in my case as shown in the video this falls to my better half Špelca. For those who are lacking a training partner alternative solutions are explained further in the article.
warmup @ 2 rounds
gradually accelerate up to 90% of max speed by feel, then slow down
rest same time it took you to finish the 0m interval
You need to log in at this point and log in to access the Squat to Valhalla workout it self and to use the features, like dynamic algorithm which will individualise the reps for your squat challenge based on your test result. The registration is a two step process, it will ask you for weight, height, age, data as well as many things are taken into account not just for this workouts but for any other which I write.
I have just finished one of my hardest workout plans - 90 days of Sparta Builder - which I managed to finish for the 4th time in 7 years. This plan is not something you would ever consider to do more than once every 12 months, it is just too hard.
I have been training light for a week and already have the strength testing that followed behind me. I feel strong and mentally fresh to keep going and take all my strength gains into a completely new plan, which I named TARTARUS.
TARTARUS - will have heavy focus on old school style muscle building, basically I plan to revive golden pumping iron era type workouts, I will also include conditioning into this plan as this is almost my trademark style of workout planing - and - old man strength exercise element to it.
So why am I telling you all this?
Because training just for the sake of training makes very little if any sense to me. I need to have a goal, a challenging one. It gives me focus and demands me to grow physically, mentally and personally.
There is no finish line!
Back squat for 60 reps unbroken with 60kg doesn’t seem like a reasonable thing to do. Repeating that 5 times during the same workout would surely be crazy.
There is something magical about the number 300, it has a legacy of sorts which demands you reach it in a challenging way. There must be a battle involved, with self, with quitting and sacrifice before you reach the 300.
Back squats were just the means to reach the 300 in a worthy, honourable way, representing a heavy fought battle before reaching the victory. There should be a price to pay for such pure emotions in the days to come. Call it battle wounds if you want, be proud of them. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, soon you will feel stronger and walk pain free again. It is a small price to pay for your newly forged invisible piece of ironmind.
Being reasonable all the time or a slave to productive performance is lacking that true raw experience, sometimes it just feels great to face the extreme, sharpen your spirit, toughen your mind and honour the battle for 300.