by Call Me Cross

The online fitness space has been host to a lot of bullshit as of late. Shredded teenagers on gear who say that if you buy their programs you can look like them naturally, freaks who eat liver shirtless, and science-based influencers who say that if your bench press isn’t optimal you’ll never grow. Of course, this is merely just the tip of the iceberg, as there are a lot more problems like fake naturals, crappy supplements, photoshop, fake weights, etc…. It seems like the online fitness space has forgotten what it is about in the first place, fitness and enjoying the gym. Now it is just about vanity and fame. Whatever happened to training for fun, and lifting for lifting’s sake?

Thankfully, one man has risen above the rest to remind us why we train. This man’s name is Kyriakos Kapakoulak, or simply “Grizzly”. An athlete from Greece, Kapakoulak has been uploading to his YouTube channel since 2011, with his videos being rather simple. Most aren’t even a full minute long and are merely just clips of him doing extremely unorthodox lifts with extraordinary amounts of weight. One example would be his sled push/pull of 500 kg (1102 lbs). His channel has no advertisements, collaborations, product placements, or any of the gimmicky content creator vibes others on YouTube have. It is just a 195 kg (429 lbs) man who wants to lift heavy weight for that sake alone.

Many people have made memes of Kapakoulak, giving him nicknames such as “The Bloatlord” and “M’Bloat”. There have even been compilations of him simply screaming for ten hours all over the internet. There has been a lot of confusion and laughter regarding his heavy and unorthodox style of training, and perhaps for good reason. His form on certain movements such as the squat isn’t stellar, but the fact that he can do Zercher front raises with 340 kg (749 lbs) is a sight to be seen. That level of strength is something that even the most successful strongmen like Brian Shaw have been awestruck by. Kapakoulak was asked what he trained for on his Instagram, and his answer is perhaps the most profound piece of lifting advice ever given, “For the difficult.”

Kapakoulak’s pearl of wisdom has been followed up by another, “You have to live it.” If we are to look at these phrases, we can understand why one should train. Training for powerlifting, aesthetics, or for any sport can all be described as difficult. Albeit, they are all difficult in their own ways, but the difficulty is present. But in order to be successful in any of these athletic endeavors, one must live it. You can’t just half-ass it, you have to fully live it, and you have to embrace the difficult.

I have participated in a myriad of physical endeavors and sports, and trust me; sometimes you don’t want to train. Perhaps former Navy Seal turned ultra marathon runner and fulltime badass David Goggins put it best, “I don’t want to do half the shit I do.” Well, I can certainly relate to that, and yet athletes all around the world persist. We do these things because they are difficult, and we must train for our goals. And so while my goals have changed throughout the years, facing the difficult has been constant. When one trains for the difficult, you are ready to face it with a wicked smile and open arms. This is precisely why one should train for the difficult and why we should voluntarily expose ourselves to difficult things. One cannot predict when the difficult will appear, but when it does, you can be ready for it.

For this reason, Kyriakos Kapakoulak is perhaps the both the biggest enigma in fitness, yet also the most pure athlete on YouTube. There is no commentary, no drama, and fitness guru tips. There is just a man who trains because he loves it. He lives the difficult, and it is something that we can apply to perhaps any endeavor in life.