Let us thank Ed Zercher, a strong man from St. Louis for this squat variation. The Zercher squat is a bilateral squatting exercise. To be clear, squatting is a movement pattern that involves ankle, knee and hip flexion, into hip and knee extension. We can then load this pattern in any way we choose.
The Zercher is one of those ways (see video below).
I’ll admit I spelt this Zurcher for years until @paigemajorcreative confirmed the spelling when adding them to my YouTube library – this was when the history lesson began.
Zerchers were born in the 1930’s and if you’ve never tried them, here’s what you need to know:
👉The front loaded weight allows the chest to remain upright
👉They destroy your core
👉The hips sit “straight down” in comparison to a back squat (hips simultaneously sit back and down).
👉They’re fab if you need to limit upper body mobility for some reason 😏 I like to use a hip thrust pad so the bar doesn’t hulk smash my dainty elbow pits.
As far as load goes, because of where the weight is carried, you won’t be able to lift nearly as heavy with a Zercher as you can with say a back or front squat variation. So, I always encourage clients to start conservatively and build from there based on how things feel.
The pattern does demand a strong core and adequate ankle dorsiflexion. If your ankles lack mobility, you can absolutely use a heel lift via small change plates, wedges or lifting shoes. No shame there. You just need to be sure that your feet are still solidly planted and set up safely.
If you’re looking for a fun new squatting variation outside the norm, give Zercher squats a go. You’ll likely have some fun and feel squats in a new place than maybe you’re used to!
👇Have you done Zercher squats? Why? For fun? You were injured? Drop it below.
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