T Nation

Learning Zerchers


What's the best way to get one's arms used to holding decent weight in the Zercher position? I want to add Zercher squats to my routine.

Using a towel for elbow padding is not a good option as due to limited equipment I do these the old-school way: deadlift the bar, balance it on my thighs, then put my elbows under it. So far I've worked up my way to 49 kilos, got 18 reps. For reference, I bb hack squat 139 kg for 5-6 reps.


Use a squat rack. If you don't have one, use a preacher bench.


By "limited equipment" I mean pretty much bar, plates and floor. I can get the bar into position no problem, I'm really looking for inner-elbow-toughening advice.

Would doing some light high-rep Zerchers every warmup be a good idea?



is there any specific reason why you insist on zerchers ? Front squats seem to offer pretty much the same stimulus minus the blood stains on your shirt after workout :slight_smile:

btw, you could wrap the towel around the bar (has to be pretty tight) before cleaning it from the floor


Thanks! That I can try.

The specific reason is because cleaning heavy tends to give me a sore right wrist. I can get the bar into the Zercher position from a deadlift, though.

I guess I could also clean out my garage, move the weights there, and buy a pair of sawhorses.


Hmm... if you have a lawn, why don't you try putting 2 mounds of soil where you can place both sides of the weight? You can also use 2 chairs, a long table. Be creative.

BTW, I think a much better warmup would be doing lightweight Zerchers within the same rep range as your work sets.


Bingo. I was going to suggest just about the same thing. I'd go with the Dan John/Dan Gable idea of "if it's important, do it a bunch." Make Zerchers 2x5 with a easy-ish weight the last part of your warm-up every training day.

If the bar placement bothers you, try picking up a pair of bar pads usually used for squats. Those work alright for some cushioning.

I will say, though, that Zerchers are like using the hook grip. It's definitely going to be uncomfortable at first. And for most people, I just don't think it's very necessary. If you're a strongman competitor or even a competitive powerlifter, sure, they have their benefit and carryover.

But for the average guy going to the gym, in terms of risk:reward (but "risk" is the wrong word), it just doesn't pan out. I'll occasionally do some Zercher walks, or do some sandbag stuff in the Zercher position (especially lunges), but not much in terms of barbell squats or good mornings.

With all that said now, I have a buddy who competes in the Highland Games and Zerchers are a staple for him. He actually begins most lower body days with a front squat/Zercher squat superset-type of exercise. Front squats with a weight, and then when fatigue sets in, he lets the bar drop down into Zercher position to bang out a few more reps.


Thanks. Zerchers in every warmup it is! For a couple of months I did overhead squats every warmup which sure helped with that (mainly with flexibility in my fucked-up left shoulder).

What I probably really should do is just clean up the damn garage anyway... I just have this "I'm making good progress so I apparently don't need more equipment" mentality.