Are you bored with the regular squat exercises you have been doing and would like to try out a new squat variation? The Zercher squats could be the exercise for you. It is a strength training that involves using weights to target the leg, core, and upper back muscles.
The exercise is named after Ed Zercher, a strength trainer, who patented the workout in the 1940s. He designed the exercise to fit people across all age groups, yet challenging enough for the torso, legs, and core. It does not require constant supervision, making it suitable for everyone.
The Zercher squats bring a variation to the regular barbell squats because it requires the trainer to hold the barbell in the crooks of the elbow. The position challenges the body differently and is more effective for improving your strength.
Targeted Muscles: Legs, core, and upper back.
Exercise Type: Strength.
Exercise Mechanics: Compound.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate.
Required Equipment: Barbell, Weights.
- Set a barbell to a suitable height in a squat rack. Ensure it suits your height. Also, ensure the barbell is at the waist height.
- Face the barbell, squat underneath it, and let it position in the crease of the elbow. Position your elbows in line with your shoulder.
- Engage your upper back and lats by rotating the shoulders outwards.
- Lift the barbell off the rack and take a few steps away from the rack. Stand upright with your feet spread hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly while maintaining a neutral neck and head.
- Begin the squat by bending the knees, ankles, and hips. Keep the movement until your thighs are parallel to the floor. When at the bottom of the movement, pause for a moment to allow your legs to feel the tension.
- Return to the starting position by pushing yourself upwards. Ensure to squeeze your glutes, maintain a high chest and straighten your knees. Also, be sure to maintain a neutral spine. This marks the end of one rep.
- Repeat the reps as many times as you desire.
MUSCLES WORKED BY THE ZERCHER SQUATS
The Zercher squats are a compound exercise that works many muscles simultaneously. It targets a group of muscles, in the upper back, legs and core. Specifically, it targets the following muscles:
- Upper Back
BENEFITS OF THE ZERCHER SQUATS
YOU CAN PERFORM IT WITHOUT A SQUAT RACK
Unlike the regular barbell squats, which require you to use a squat rack, the Zercher squats can be performed without a rack. The exercise will allow you to deadlift the weight into the starting position, after which you will perform the squat movement. Therefore, it is less complicated than the standard barbell squats.
IT WILL INCREASE QUAD MUSCLE HYPERTROPHY AND STRENGTH
The Zercher squats target the quads more than the glutes and hamstring because it engages the torso. Therefore, it will force you to move your knees forward more than you will shift your hips backward. This will put your knees at a greater angle when you reach the bottom of the squat. The greater angle will force you to work your quads more.
IT WILL REINFORCE YOUR TORSO
The Zercher squats is a challenging exercise for the postural and upper back muscles because it attempts to maintain an upright torso. When performing the exercise, your postural muscles will try to limit your performance because they are limited in strength. As a result, it will try to tip you over. Therefore, it will force you to compensate with other muscles, which, in the long run, will reinforce your torso.
ALTERNATIVES TO ZERCHER SQUATS
The barbell deadlift exercise is a suitable alternative to the Zercher squats because it targets the same group of muscles. It is a suitable exercise for muscle growth and strength. It has a range of benefits to the body, including strengthening the bones, improving your grip, improving the core stability, and challenging the body muscles.
It is an easy exercise to perform and presents minimal risks to the body. It is versatile, meaning you can perform it anywhere. Also, it is suitable for everyone, regardless of gender or age. The exercise will be of significance to you if you are looking for a strong lower back, a good physique, and a stable core.
- Load a barbell with an appropriate weight then roll it against your shins.
- Bend your knees and hips slightly and grab the bar using an overhand grip. Ensure your hands are positioned slightly beyond your shoulder width.
- Maintaining a neutral back and an upright torso, push your hips forward as you lift the barbell off the floor. Ensure you stand upright at the top of the movement. Also, keep your hands close to your rib cage.
- Begin the downward movement by flexing your hips and knees. Complete the movement by returning the barbell to the floor.
- Repeat the exercise as many times as you desire.
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN PERFORMING THE ZERCHER SQUATS
RAISING THE HIPS TOO QUICKLY
Most trainers tend to lift their hips too quickly when performing the Zercher squats. This mistake is common with beginners, who tend to “bounce” up when they reach the bottom of the movement. This can lead you to rely on motion when returning to the starting position and will exert immense pressure on your elbows. As a result, it can hurt your tendons and compromise your form.
Instead, control your motion and master the correct form of performing the workout. Performing the exercise correctly will guarantee you its maximum benefits.
Many trainers tend to lean forward at the bottom of the squat. This will happen if you allow the weights to pull you forward. It will compromise the efficiency of the workout and will put immense pressure on your torso. If you keep leaning forward while performing the exercise, it can lead to back injuries over time.
Avoid this mistake by tensing your biceps and core muscles. Also, maintain your balance.
The Zercher squats are a perfect workout for trainers looking for a stronger back, legs, and core. It is an easy exercise to master and presents few risks. It does not require supervision once you have mastered the movement. It has few risks which can easily be avoided by mastering the correct form of performing it.
Try this exercise if you want to deviate from the regular barbell squats. I reckon you will like it.