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What is Zercher Squat?

It is no secret that squats come in different forms and variations. You can do them conventionally, close stance, wide stance, front, overhead, and more. Out of all the forms you can do however, maybe the most unusual, unknown, and awkwardly effective is the Zercher squat.


Many people that know of the Zercher squat avoid it because it is honestly uncomfortable as well. But it is an exercise that will weed out the folks who are serious about making progress with their strength and gains. The exercise truly works.

Zercher squats are not the most popular movement as stated (or highly unknown), but they should be known, especially if they want to develop a bigger upper back, glutes, quads, and biceps. A Zercher squat may appear very unorthodox and maybe a little overkill because at first glance it might not seem like it is doing anything special as compared to a regular squat, but that is why you should give it a shot and find out for yourself.


A Zercher squat really forces you to use your entire body much more than a conventional back or front squat. “Zercher” refers to where you hold the barbell, which is in the crook of your elbows. You may have heard of a Zercher deadlift as well. The barbell is held the same way.


The difference between the Zercher deadlift and squat is the squat is a up and down repetitious movement, and the deadlift is more of a cycle movement where the weight is picked up off the ground in a serious of different movements.

Starting with the barbell in an elevated position, you simply pick the loaded barbell up off the rack with the crook of your elbows. Locking your arms around the barbell in front of you, then simply start to perform up and down squat motions.

A good rep and set scheme to start would be 4 sets of 6-8 reps, especially if you have never done the movement.


Benefits of Zercher squats are:


  • Stronger and bigger upper back
  • Bigger biceps
  • Stronger and bigger glutes and quads
  • Strengthened front squat
  • Extremely taxing/great metabolic movement (burns a lot of calories)


Always take caution when doing a movement that is of a Zercher nature. This movement does round out the back/lower back a bit (because you are picking it up from the floor on each rep) but can be helpful if you keep the weights manageable and safe because the back will be able to get stronger while in a vulnerable position. 


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