Build your core strength and boost your squat, deadlift, and bench performances with this unusual exercise.
While the farmer’s walk is the most popular and widely used loaded carry, Zercher carries are also quite effective. “Zercher” refers to a style of exercise where the load is being held in the crook of your elbows. This transfers the load largely in front of you and increases the demands on the upper back while also greatly increasing core tension.
Louie Simmons himself has said that the Zercher carry teaches you to squat properly. It also strengthens the upper back, traps, arms, and core more than other squat variations. And if you give yourself time to get used to the discomfort in your elbows, you’ll find that you can load this exercise as much, if not more so, than the front squat.
Here are the key points in doing the Zercher carry effectively:
- Avoid leaning back. Try to keep your torso as upright as possible. What we want is to strengthen the core. If you lean back, you’re essentially supporting the load with your spine and the core doesn’t get as much stimulation because the load is moved back over the center of the base of support.
- Hold the bar in the crook of your elbows, keep them high, and walk while tensing your abs as if you were about to get punched in the stomach.
- Walk at a controlled pace. Going too fast will normally lead to a reduction in tightness or faulty technique.
- Carry the load for 10 to 50 meters, with 30 meters probably being ideal.
If your midsection is “soft” while squatting and deadlifting, the Zercher carry will fix it. It’ll also improve the overhead press by not only increasing stability, but by increasing shoulder and upper back strength.
Similarly, that added shoulder and upper back strength will have a positive impact on the bench press. Finally, your biceps strength and pulling performance will also go up.