Strengthen Your Lower Body and Core With Zercher Squats

STACK Expert John Papp states the benefits of and explains the proper setup for the Zercher Squat.

What exactly is a Zercher Squat?

In this little-known Squat variation, the bar is placed in front of the athlete and cradled in the arms rather than on the back- or front-rack position. It can be great option if you're looking to challenge your entire body, because it engages more of the upper body than a traditional Back Squat.

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Zerchers can be especially beneficial to wrestlers, grapplers, mixed martial artists and football players, who constantly have an opponent pulling or pushing them.

To do a Zercher Squat, set a barbell in a rack at about the height of your navel. You may want to put a pad on the bar or wrap a sweatshirt or yoga mat around it to make it more comfortable.

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To set up, take one arm, place the inside of your elbow on the bar and take your hand to your chest. The bar should be pinched in the crook of your elbow like this:

Zercher Squat Set-Up

Next, place the other arm under, same as before. Lock your hands together and pull them to your chest as hard as possible. This is what your finished setup should look like:

Zercher Squat Set-Up

Stand up straight, hugging the bar in your elbows, and step away from the rack. Now your setup should look like this:

Zercher Squat Set-Up

Initiate the Squat like any other by pushing your hips back. As you drop down into the Squat, hug the bar as tightly to your chest as possible. The position of the weight will try to pull you forward. Resist this and stay as upright as possible. At this point, you should look like this:

Zercher Squat

Reverse the motion of the Squat, as above, making sure to stay as upright as possible.

Try the Zercher Squat on your next lower-body day, but remember: it's not a complete substitute for other Squat variations such as the Back and Front Squat—because you won't be able to handle the same load in a Zercher.

Watch the above video for a demonstration.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock