What is a zercher squat

Oct 18, 2023

The Zercher squat is a lesser-known variation of the traditional squat exercise that targets the lower body muscles while also engaging the core and upper body. Named after strongman Ed Zercher, who popularized the movement in the 1930s, the Zercher squat offers a unique and challenging way to build strength and improve overall fitness.

How to Perform the Zercher Squat

To perform the Zercher squat, you'll need a barbell and a squat rack. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Set the barbell on the squat rack at a height that allows you to comfortably lift it.
  2. Stand in front of the barbell and position yourself so that it is resting against your forearms, just below your elbows.
  3. Grasp the barbell with an underhand grip and lift it off the rack, keeping your core engaged and your back straight.
  4. Take a step back from the rack and position your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out.
  5. Lower your body by bending at the knees and hips, keeping your chest up and your weight on your heels.
  6. Go as low as you can while maintaining good form, ideally until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  7. Push through your heels to return to the starting position, exhaling as you rise.
  8. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Benefits of the zercher squat

Benefits of the Zercher Squat

The Zercher squat offers several benefits that make it worth incorporating into your workout routine:

  • Increased lower body strength: Like traditional squats, the Zercher squat targets the muscles of the lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. By regularly performing Zercher squats, you can build strength and improve muscle definition in these areas.
  • Improved core stability: Holding the barbell in the crook of your elbows requires significant core engagement to maintain stability. This exercise can help strengthen your core muscles, including the abs, obliques, and lower back.
  • Enhanced upper body strength: The Zercher squat also engages the muscles of the upper body, including the biceps, forearms, and upper back. As a result, it can help improve overall upper body strength and muscular development.
  • Improved functional fitness: The Zercher squat is a compound exercise that mimics movements used in everyday activities, such as lifting heavy objects from the ground. By incorporating this exercise into your routine, you can improve your functional fitness and make daily tasks easier.
the zercher squat

Tips for Performing the Zercher Squat Safely

While the Zercher squat can be a highly effective exercise, it's important to perform it with proper form to avoid injury. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Start with lighter weights: If you're new to the Zercher squat, start with lighter weights to get comfortable with the movement and ensure proper form.
  • Keep your back straight: It's crucial to maintain a straight back throughout the exercise to avoid straining your lower back. Focus on keeping your chest up and your core engaged.
  • Use a pad or towel: Placing a pad or towel on the barbell can make the exercise more comfortable by cushioning your forearms.
  • Gradually increase the weight: As you become more proficient in the Zercher squat, gradually increase the weight to continue challenging your muscles and promoting strength gains.

Remember to always consult with a qualified fitness professional before attempting any new exercises, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or injuries.

How to perform the zercher squat


The Zercher squat is a unique and challenging exercise that can help you build lower body strength, improve core stability, and enhance upper body strength. By incorporating this exercise into your routine and performing it with proper form, you can reap the many benefits it offers and take your fitness to new heights.