The Zercher squat is in this programming for 2 reasons.
- It can be fun and a nice change up from front squat (it works basically the same musculature).
- It can be a good replacement if you find the front squat too uncomfortable.
Zercher Squat — Setup
1. Bar height
- Set the bar in the rack about the height of your belly button.
- Approach the bar and hook the arms under the bar into the crooks of your elbow.
- Squat the weight up from there and take 2-3 direct steps backwards.
- The stance for the Zercher squat is typically more narrow than the back squat, but this is a personal preference.
- Choose the stance that allows you to reach depth without getting in the way of your elbows or belly
- Your balance point is the midfoot, so the torso angle in the Zercher squat is more vertical than the back squat. Very similar to the front squat.
- Because the bar is on our front, we need a more vertical torso to keep the bar over midfoot.
Zercher Squat — Execution
1. Inhale and squat
- Remember: Full lungs and a tight core are what allow you to protect your spine.
- Breathing is the same as the back squat.
- Exhale at the end of the movement when you are back at the top of the rep.
Zercher Squat — Coaching Cues
- Eyes look just below straight ahead. DO NOT lead the movement with your eyes by looking up at the ceiling.
- Cranking the neck (cervical spine) is a great way to ensure a future injury in any exercise. Lead the movement with the chest and elbows.
- Keep the knees out.
- Just like with the back squat and deadlift, the knees should be tracking out over the toes throughout the whole movement.
- Keep the torso erect.
Zercher Squat — Adjustments
Low back pain is a sign of a weak core. The point of these exercises is to point out weak points and imbalances in the body so that you can fix them. You may find that the limiting factor for many movements is a weak core. Take solace in the fact that this is super simple to fix and will have secondary benefits on other aspects of your life. The remedy is to lighten the load and embrace progressive overload. Put your ego away and lift the weight that is appropriate for you on this specific day. You’ll get to the big weights when it’s time. Enjoy the process.
Elbow pain is inevitable when training the Zercher squat. Luckily it is not necessary to do this variation. If you have issues, switch to a different squat variation that produces less stress on the elbows. You can also decide to pad the elbows with a yoga mat or something similar to ease up the elbow pressure.
Caveat: This exercise guidance should never usurp the advice of your medical professional. If there is a question in your mind as to the suitability of this exercise for you confer with your doctor. WATM is not liable if you do something ill-advised after reading any of our fitness content.
Zercher Squat — Further Resources