T Nation

Zercher Variations and Other Inventions


This thread is for posting things that I have come up with-that may very well have been used by others first but that I haven't seen in other places. I have basically trained alone with a power rack, and whatever I can get from the hardware store. A lot of times I will see a "new" exercise on this site that I have been using for 10 years or so.

The first thing I want to get out there is 2 things I have done to make Zerchers more effective and allow more load.

First I put a 6" or 4" diameter PVC sleeve over the bar to thicken it and move it out farther to target the f-ing core muscles, which I will refer to as the "guts" from now on to avoid confusion.

It also makes it easier on the elbow-pit. I know that people have used sandbags and logs for Zerchers before so this is not that "new"


Next, I use a towel over my neck, and grab it to allow greater holding ability (this works for front squats OK too with a cross grip. You can "coil" the towell around your hands if you have to, or even use a strap with handles.


Thats brilliant. I used to try something similar with just a beach towel.



Here is the method that I currently use for reverse bands. I put double bands across the supports of the rack at the racking level. At the top, the bar is just above the bands. (these are old ratty bands just used for the pics). At the bottom of this particular setup the bands reduce about 75 pounds. The next level of bands reduces 90 and the one above that (standard medium) reduces about 135 I think though I will test it at the 5 hole. At the very top it is all bar. It acts a lot like a shirt. Because the mass of the bar can be high, and the lowering is slowed, the lift is slow but you have to push hard the whole way.



Also, you can experiment with different rack positions, but I prefer right at the lock out.


Chain hung double bands

Here I have about a 21 inch chain around the bar. Notice that the chain can be shortened by linking to higher chain links. You can shorten the chain for example by 1-2 links each time.

This is a little different effect than reverse bands. The lockout is still hard, but at the chest you have all bar and you really have to heave the bar off the chest to beat the bands. Because the doubled bands are attached this way the force shoots up around the lockout. I know that people have cautioned against having the bands go slack at the bottom, but in this setup I have found that the chains track the bands so there are no sudden lateral forces.


Chain hung double bands part 2

These bands add about 75 at the top when hung from the full 21 link long chain.


Chain hung bands 3

Here you can see that the chains keep the force on track even if the bands deload completely.


doing zerchers against bands... That exercise belongs in hell.


Two questions about the zercher setup:
--Is lateral shifting of the bar in the pipe a problem? I would worry about it moving one way or the other and then getting off balance.
--Do you feel that the towel changes how zercher squats load the back? Obviously zercher squats have certain problems without the towel, but I'm not sure that apply that load around the back of your neck is really the best solution.

I don't mean this as a critique, although I am skeptical. I'd just like to get your input on how this setup works out as you load up the zercher.


I made the PVC long enough to come right up to the edge, but if its shorter it will shift laterally. Typically I actually do these as bent knee rack pulls from different levels so I'm not moving laterally.

I thought about the towel changing the line of force, but from a physics perspective, in a normal zercher the line if force theoretically runs from the bar to the shoulder. In this setup the line of force will be somewhere between the a) center of the bar and the shoulder and b) the line drawn from teh hands to the neck. The hands to neck line is virtually the same as the bar center to shoulder line, and if anything is a little more horizontal so it just increases the force that is rotating you forward.

Anyway it kills the abs with just a few heavy reps so maybe its different but it seems to be effective.


Oh I've done that too, but the band setups I showed are actually for bench pressing.