T Nation

First Time Zercher(er)


I am going to be doing zercher squats early next week as my ME lower movement. Probably a 3 or 5RM.
I have never done these before.
I’ve watched some videos and have seen some of ya’ll on here do them.
Any advice, or warnings before doing them?
Should my stance be the same as my low bar stance (moderately wide)?
And should I try and stay as upright as possible, or let a little forward lean happen?
I’ll post a video after I do them, probably Tuesday.

Thanks guys.


You’ll probably same stance as front squats, i used to do these all.the time. Must complain about it pinching skin on arms , pussies.
Now hold at close to body like you are bear hugging somebody, keep upright like front squat.
Some guys rest it on belt during bottom part of exercise .
Fine just explode out off bottom,
oh and if you are into strongman or mma, there is carry over to stone lifts and grappling.
Zercher deads i used to do also , only if you are very flexible and with lite weight, as you round your back to great degree even with good form.
Good luck.


The answer to all of these questions is highly dependent on what you want to get out of zerchers.


Is a stronger posterior chain an option? Cause that’s something I would like…


I am a big Zercher fan. Agree with all the above. Hold them close, they drift as the weight gets heavy, stay upright, get good depth with your elbows between your knees on your way down. I like to pause for a 1count and drive straight up. A fat bar adds a lot of comfort. My Zercher max is about 60-70% of my squat. They stress your upper back and abs.


My favorite posterior chain are SSB good morning, SLDL, and for squat SSB box squat.
Zercher will work it, I find a nice carryover to my squat. Raw,medium stance, Olympic shoes.


Definitely. You really don’t need to do anything specific to get that, as it’s a pretty general goal. As long as you maintain a consistent form/technique with each session, you’ll be good.


Zercher good mornings.

Naturally, you’ll only be able to hinge at the hips so much, but you can still get enough ROM to light everything up on the back side of the body.

If you have any issues with back tightness doing deads, this will quickly reveal them to you and teach you how to keep a rigid back.

If you so much as let any muscle on your back get a little lose when using heavy weight with these, there’s a good chance that weight will pull your arms open and you’ll dump the weight.

I like them for that reason.


Use a powerrack .
good ab strength or maybe a suspected hernia ,piles/ pyles . I used them a lot because I started with sandbags and have shoulder flexibility issues which prevent from squatting heavy safely.
I could around 180kg circa 400lb at one point. You get used too the pain . Don’t use padding because you will loose stability . You will be using singles unless you going quite light. I know Westside used to like them a lot.

Personally I would not do them , high injury risk for very little gain and front squats are much harder.

If you have good flexibility squats for quads, deadlift variations for everything else. At least for maximal strength. If you could do the sandbag version it will limit the load , work your abs like you possibly want and give some quad work too. It’s harder than the barbell version (safer too) as the bag will get much bigger than a barbell.


I believe they test and build a certain strenght that you can’t achieve with other exercises like regular squats and deadlifts. They build your back in a special way and are for me a secret weapon get really strong and not only in a certain movement.


Something else I like to do to build tightness in the back and leg drive during deadlifts is to do zercher squats from pins using my deadlift stance.

I set the pins up so that my hips are just a little below where they would be when deadlifting. I push my hips about as far back as I would when DLing so my knees start at about mid way over my foot.

It doesn’ t work the hams as hard as Zerchers GM’s, but the quads work hard to break the weight from the pins and back even harder to keep the weight from getting loose since you are sitting back a bit.


Dont use zerchers as a ME movement youll tear your biceps if you hold the bar incorrectly.


I actuallly had no issues doing this with seated zercher good mornings. Even worked up to 430lbs for a single that way. I used an axle though, which might have helped.


You need to hold the bar very close to you. Possibly close to the sternum from memory.


I did some today.
I can definitely feel how it would benefit. Didn’t go super heavy, and some elbow sleeves would be nice.
Overall, I like em. There is a short video over in my training log.


I love using Zercher Squats but I would not use at ME. It will do more harm then good. I would look to stick to the 5-8 range keep weight between 60-70% with perfect vertical form for the spine. I think you will see more of a benefit and less chance of a injury.


I was realizing this as I was warming up.
Definitely want to kep it in the arsenal, but as a back off or primer movement for higher reps.


Watched your zercher squat video, they look good. They way you do them is a little like using a sandbag. Higher reps. Eventually you may want to go heavier. I would still recommend the sandbag , it allows the load to be lot lower while making the exercise more difficult. I would not bother with the elbow wraps , you may lose stability. I clasp m y hands they way you were too.


Absolutely keep it in the arsenal. It can do wonders for a leg day that you do not want to have spinal compression. With good form and weight selection it will have great benefits.


I found zerchers to be like front squats in the regard that the discomfort goes away with practice. A couple tips that will help is to keep the lats super tight so you can pull the weight against your body and also to really flex my arms hard. My biceps get a small pump after doing these because I squeeze my biceps so hard.