The Zercher Squat

The Zercher Squat Is a Simple, Effective Exercise For Building And Tightening The Lower Body Muscles.

The Zercher squat is a simple exercise for building and tightening the lower body muscles that you can perform without any equipment, and that’s why it’s such a useful exercise to incorporate into your routine. We’ll show you how to perform this exercise safely, as well as some tips for incorporating the Zercher squat into your routine on your own.

What Is The Zercher Squat?

The Zercher squat places the barbell in the crease of the elbow where the lifter ‘hugs’ the weight as close to their body as possible. A common technique is to overlap the hands to add additional upper body strength.

The Benefits of the Zercher Squat

Keeping the weight in front of your body is going to force you to brace your core to stay in a good position. Lose core tension and you’ll likely see the bar roll right out of your elbows shortly after. This is one major benefit of the lift. You have to keep an active brace. Carryover from this is not hypothetical. It’s absolutely real and noticeable.

Another major key associated with front loading the Squat is that you have to engage your upper back to avoiding rounding the shoulders forward. Retracting and activating the muscles of your upper back will help you keep the weight close to the body and strengthen that area for carryover into postural and athletic health.

Lastly, your legs will be tested in ways they may have never felt before. Of course, your hamstrings, glutes and quads will get the brunt of the work – and more than you may be used to – but there is a real opportunity for you to strengthen the smaller stabilizing muscles of the hips, adductors and abductor groups.

With the elbows bent around waist height, you have to make sure they don’t bump into your knees, so this is a reminder to screw your feet into the ground and really activate your hips and knees during the lift to make room for a good range of motion. In doing so, you’ll start to feel a huge difference in your less dominant leg muscles which will definitely be great for your overall performance in and outside the gym.

How To Do The Zercher Squat Safely

Pro Tip: If you are not able to use weight just yet ? try using just bar. If you cannot handle the bar it is ok, you can perform without any equipment.

Step 1. Set Up: Start by walking up to the rack

Step 2. Put the bar in the crease of your elbows

Step 3. Keep elbows tight to your sides

Step 4. Squeeze hands together or have palms facing the ceiling

Step 5. Get hips under the bar, grab a big belly breath and squat it up from the rack

Step 6. Take a couple of steps back, settle the bar, and grab more air if you can

Step 7. Squat down until elbows touch thighs or fall in between

Step 8. Stand up, Repeat and get massively athletic

Tips for performing the Zercher squat at home or in a gym with equipment

  • You can overlap the hands to add additional strength to the setup position.
  • Be sure to resist the weight as it attempts to pull your body forwards.
  • This lift should be felt in the legs, upper body, and core.

Variations on the Lift

Double Kettlebell Front Squat

Simply rack two dumbbells in the front position and perform in a similar fashion. Due to the kettlebells being independent of one another, there is a unique challenge to controlling the back and torso positioning.

Front-Loaded Squat

Handing odd objects in the arms while squatting is a challenging back, leg, bracing, and upper body taxing lift. The barbell may be uncomfortable, therefore a lifter can try to use a heavy sandbag, log, fat bar, slosh-pipe, or human.

 Front Squat

When looking for a similar movement that challenges the legs and posture in a similar fashion, look no further than the front squat. This movement offers many of the same squat loading and mechanics as the Zercher squat.


The Zercher squat is a simple, effective exercise that you can do anytime, anywhere. It’s ideal for anyone who wants to build and tighten up their lower body muscles, and that’s why it makes an excellent addition to any training routine.