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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.

Marck Goran Lorencin

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

original definition of the pistol

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.

Oza @ Gym Justified

lesson of simplicity

Lie down with as much grace as you can manage, then get up as elegantly as you can. Focus on your whole body, flex any muscles you want or need …just don’t stop moving even for a moment's rest.

You can go as slow or as fast as you manage, but you are not allowed to stop even for a moment. I mean this literally, there is no water break, wipe your sweat break, or any other break from the movement. You are allowed only to lie down, then get up without ever stopping. Work hard to move as gracefully as you are able the entire time.

keep going for 60 min

This is a simple lesson. It demands no skill, yet it will test your commitment and expose you to a much-needed mind-body connection.

You remain the only person who will ever know if you managed to master the entire 60 min without stopping for a moment. I am not here to judge. You need to go through it honestly to learn from it.

Certain knowledge holds value and meaning only when you are exposed to it through personal experience.

there was no other way – 151kg


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

Dave saved by pure grit

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.

July 2002 | SFI Endurance = 100%

superfit index™

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.


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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Only minimal support from upper part of shoulders and tip of your heels is allowed. I show this nicely on the photo.

  5. Listening to the music, watching Netflix or even falling asleep is allowed as long as your form remains intact.

stand behind what you preach @ Cirencester workshop

one arm hang • for time

No skill and no technique needed and hardly any risk to try. One arm hang is one of those things one can either do or can’t do.

How long can you hang from the bar with one arm only?

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          60 sec+
> Level 2    Fit human         30 sec+
> Level 1    Homo sapiens      10 sec+
- - - - -
~ sub:level  demi-sapiens      03 sec
… non:level  non-fit creature  00 sec


  1. You need to test your weaker arm. As the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link, so let’s check how your weaker side does.

  2. No use of chalk is allowed, there is no such thing as a slippery bar, there is only lack of grip strength. Notice also I specifically said, hang from the bar.

  3. There is no buts about chalk use. If someone is set to sabotage your test by putting a thick layer of oil grease on the bar, kindly wipe the grease off …or if there is some chalk on the bar, grease it a little, then apply your natural grip strength to the bar.

  4. Just for fun try also the stronger arm even though your result doesn’t count toward completing of the standard.

You will now be able to view equality as you’ve never seen it before. Even your own left–right side are not and never will be completely equal. Not being equally in balance is not the issue, rather the issue is, if your left–right side — arms in this case but applies to other body parts as well — are hugely out of balance, that's something you should be worried about. To be strong and healthy you need to create and maintain good balance.

Sašo and Andrej @ level 2

wall handstand • hold for time

How long can you hold a wall handstand? Here is a really simple way to look at things while being upside down.

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          03 min+
> Level 2    Fit human         90 sec+
> Level 1    Homo sapiens      45 sec+
- - - - -
~ sub:level  demi-sapiens      10 sec
… non:level  non-fit creature  00 sec

Everyone should be able to hold at least close to a minute. This is nothing extreme and more than a reasonable benchmark to consider as a bare minimum from a human (hence Homo sapiens) with basic functional abilities, and if not, why not, and why not better your self by setting a higher (as proposed) standard to aim for.