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Zercher Harness?

As much as I like zercher squat, I find they are the most uncomfortable exercise you can think of… What’s your stance on Zercher Harness?

I have one, and I personally don’t hate it. However you gotta be careful which one you buy. I have the one from Westside (first pic you posted) and PERSONALLY I can use it fine BUT a powerlifter can’t because the low end is too low and prevent him from squatting all the way down. I have a long torso and short legs so I don’t have that problem: he has a short torso and long legs and he can’t do full range with it.

The second pic doesn’t look to lead to that problem.

HOWEVER, it is not truly a Zercher and it doesn’t bring the same benefits as a Zercher (upper back, traps, arm strengthening). I would say it’s more similar to a front squat than a Zercher squat.


Do you have any articles dedicated to the topic of body proportions other than “The Main Purpose of Client Assessment: Exercise Selection”? I think it’s an interesting topic, especially if it were to go into a bit more nuance.

As a concrete example, I know you prefer the front squat for long limbed lifters if their goal is solely aesthetics, but if a long limbed lifter opts for a wide-stance back squat they might still have similar ROM to someone with a more favourable build and what impact does that have on strength potential and hypertrophy.

I believe the topic becomes the most interesting with people not fully dedicated to any one particular pursuit (looks contra maximum weight lifted) such as with athletes. For instance, this video you’ve posted previously of one of your athletes

That’s a strong back squat, he’s using oly shoes, he has long limbs, a upright torso angle, moderate stance, slightly angled feet, knees over toes (shoot back a bit as he initiates his ascent though). It’d be interesting to hear more about any conscious rationale that went into these decisions (if applicable)

Other than individual leverages and technique (I have the same build, same height, though he’s a freaking beast and 15 kgs heavier, I squat pretty much like him, can’t really squat wide) it’s the kind of squat that has the more transfer to athleticism and power (oly back squat), which makes sense as a bobsleigh and skeleton athlete.

@mattferrari I’ve found using the locked together arms was much more painful on my forearms. I also put chalks on my elbows, and frankly now i’m quite used to it after 6 weeks of heavy zerchers.
Then if it’s too much pain still, try putting on a hoodie, sleeves, or/and using the squat pad or a fat bar.

What’s this?

It’s bobsleigh for crazier people: you’re alone on a sled, on your belly, facing frontwards

Well, luge, skeleton and bobsleigh requires completely different training.

Bobsleigh athletes are essentially football runningbacks. They need to be really fast, yet very powerful/strong and fairly heavy. The reason is that the 3 keys to winning i bobsleigh are:

  1. driving (which is unrelated to strength training)
  2. the amount of speed imparted to the sled in the pus (before the athletes all jump in the sled), which lasts around 30m. This requires a lot of speed, but also strength since the sled is heavy.
  3. Weight of the crew. The heavier the sled is, the faster down it will go on its own. There is a limit to what the total weight of the sled+crew can be; if the crew is light, they have to put weight in. the sled to compensate. And a heavier sled is harder to get moving at first.

In luge the athlete goes down on the sled on his bac, feet first. These athletes need mostly lats and core strength because they start seated on their luge and use handles on the ice to pull themselves forward at the start. They normally are among the strongest in the world on chin-ups.

In skeleton you go down on a similar sled as in luge, but you go on your stomach and head first. This is the craziest of all three. They start similarly to bobsleigh in that they have a running start then jump on their sled, stomach first. This means that they also need to be super fast, but because the sled is light, they don’t require as much strength as bobsleigh guys.

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Funny, because I find that front squat are very uncomfortable too…

Btw, I should have specified that what I am concerned about is leg development specifically

Have you tried using a hip-belt setup for squats and solely emphasize legs?

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Well if you can’t handle front squat either, no need to do them if you’re only concerned with hypertrophy. Do leg presses and hack squats

I train in an home gym

It looks a nice idea but I think you’d limit your capability to overload the exercise in the long term (i.e. I don’t think you’ll ever hit 365-405 for reps on a belt squat)

That’s funny because I think they’re the most comfortable squat to do with a barbell. Do you use elbow sleeves, or rest the barbell on your bare arm? (If the latter, I might agree with you).

No, I tried with elbow sleeves as well… But the pressure really hurts the crook of my elbows.
But I like the feeling much more than a back squat (much more depth and very upright torso) and than a front squat, which honestly feel just so weird to me.

I was just unsure whether the harness would halter the movement pattern or be detrimental as far as leg development (I am an amateur bodybuilder) is concerned

I think a main benefit of the zercher is the work you get holding the bar, using arms and upper back. For me, I can do about 25 or more lbs on the zercher than a front squat, because I am much more stable and comfortable holding the bar in the zercher than the front rack.

I don’t know about how a harness would impact the effectiveness regarding a bodybuilder’s goals, though. I’ll be doing 5x4-6 sets of zercher squats today, supersetted with Bulgarian split squats. I will try for 215 lbs and see how that goes.

Don’t forget the core as well! The Zercher is popular amongst fighters, for a reason. Also some love in contact sports. I too Zercher more than Front squats, simply because I can lean over a bit more.

@mattferrari for how long have you been trying Zerchers? It takes some time to get used to it, like the hook grip, and it will never be really enjoyable. I’m not ultra strong but I’ve worked up to a 150 kgs squat, yesterday I was doing sets of Zercher goodmornings with 120-130 kgs (which are even more uncomfortable) then Zercher back extensions with 60 kgs (worked up to 100 kgs) and all bare elbowed. After 6 weeks of this now I have really much less pain (also switched to the non-locked armed position which feels way better)

I don’t think nobody will ever need that much weight on that exercise. Some crazy strong people use it and they are far from that.

Concerning your leg development well perhaps try back squat with a narrower stance and trying to stay more upright? But honestly front, zercher, back, won’t make THAT huge of a difference for your quads

A fat bar makes it a lot more comfortable. They are easy to find or make.
This was a stupid impulse buy, but it is great for zerchers:

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These must feel nice. I do my zercher back extensions with an EZ bar and it feels way better

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I don’t use zercher since they are very uncomfortable for me too.