The Importance of the Zercher Squat
– Excerpt lovingly borrowed from a recent article in BoxLife Magazine
"But what about the Zercher squat? That’s right, the Zercher squat. It’s not a disease or an abnormal movement from Cold War Russia, but actually one of the most underrated yet effective exercises that can take an athlete’s power and muscular development to the next level. Louie Simmons, legendary powerlifter, strength coach and owner of Westside Barbell has this to say on the benefits of the Zercher squat: 'It teaches you exactly how to squat. It teaches you to push your knees apart. Push your chest up. Push your buttocks out. The whole nine yards.'"
"The Zercher squat is named after its creator Ed Zercher, a strongman and power lifter from the 1930s. Apparently Zercher’s home gym resembled a junkyard more than a workout area, and was filled with toys such as anvils, wrecking balls and other assorted pieces of machinery. One can imagine the old-time lifter experimenting with different movements before creating the Zercher squat."
"As Louie Simmons states, the Zercher squat is a great exercise for squatting mechanics, especially for beginners. It reinforces a hip dominant action, forces an athlete to maintain an upright posture throughout the movement and allows for a deeper squat then the majority of people can achieve in the more traditional squats. By taking the barbell (thus the load) off the back the Zercher squat all but eliminates the compressive forces acting on the spine. It’s a great exercise to substitute in for the back squat on de-loading weeks/cycles to allow your spine some time to recover. Furthermore, the mechanics of the movement mean that the core is being forced to work overtime. Since the weight is loaded anteriorly (towards the front), you are forced to maintain a more upright posture, thus placing greater emphasis on the anterior stabilizers—such as the abs. Zerchers place far greater levels of activity in the posterior chain than the more traditional front and back squat, making it a brilliant developer of the glutes and hamstrings."
WORKOUT OF THE DAY
A1) Zercher squat: 5 x 5
A2) Vertical push
A) Intermediate & Advanced
A1) Zercher squat: 3-5 reps @ 80-85%. Totalling 15-18 reps
A2) Vertical push
B) Advanced Only
B1) 6 x 15 seconds on : 45 seconds rest
Front squat @ 55% 1RM
– Focus on fast, explosive reps
C) All Athletes
Working with a partner, complete 3 rounds each in 'I go, you go' format:
10 Back squats @ Bodyweight