There are many movements in the gym that just seem uncomfortable. Maybe you have seen some where it just seems like the person does not know what they are doing. It is easy however to be naïve and almost arrogant to the point where just because you might not know what the exercise is, you would assume that it is pointless.
If you ever see someone doing Zercher deadlifts they most likely look like they know what they are doing because they are probably a monster.
Zercher deadlifts are a movement that no one wants to do in the gym, but they should be doing it, especially if they want to get big. A Zercher deadlift may appear very unorthodox and maybe a little overkill because at first glance it might not seem like it is doing anything special, but that is why you should give it a shot and find out for yourself.
For anyone familiar with a Zercher deadlift, it is actually done in a “cycle” movement. “Zercher” refers to where you hold the barbell, which is in the crook of your elbows. You may have heard of a Zercher squat as well. The barbell is held the same way.
Many confuse the two however because a Zercher deadlift is more than just squatting the weight down and back up (that is a squat). A Zercher deadlift is always lifted from the floor. Now, this may seem hard to imagine because very few people can cradle the barbell from the floor in the crook of their elbows and maintain a safe body position. This is where the fun comes in.
Starting from a regular deadlift stance, you simply pick the loaded barbell up off the floor like a conventional deadlift. From there you squat down and rest the barbell on your quads. In the squatting position you should easily be able to get your arms under the barbell and set it in the crook of your elbows, hooking the barbell with your arms. From the squatted position you now stand all the way up, squat back down and follow the steps in reverse.
That is one Zercher deadlift cycle.
Perform 3-4 sets of 3-6 reps/cycles, especially if you are a beginner.
Benefits of a Zercher deadlift are:
- Stronger and bigger upper back
- Bigger biceps
- Improved conventional deadlift
- Strengthen front squat
- Extremely taxing/great metabolic movement (burns a lot of calories)
Always take caution when doing a movement like a Zercher deadlift. 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.