Zercher squat

The Zercher squat is a barbell exercise in which the bar is placed in the crease of your elbows as you perform a normal squat. This movement can be awkward at first but is extremely effective in building both size and strength.


  1. Impossible to perform without fully engaging your entire body
  2. Builds the quads, glutes, hamstrings, biceps, and upper back
  3. Can be an alternative to spinal loading

Zercher squat Images


Zercher squat Instructions

Zercher squat muscle diagram
  1. This exercise is best performed inside a squat rack for safety purposes. To begin, first set the bar on a rack that best matches your height. The correct height should be anywhere above the waist but below the chest. Once the correct height is chosen and the bar is loaded, lock your hands together and place the bar on top of your arms in between the forearm and upper arm.
  2. Lift the bar up so that it is resting on top of your forearms. If you are holding the bar properly, it should look as if you have your arms crossed but with a bar running across them.
  3. Step away from the rack and position your legs using a shoulder width medium stance with the toes slightly pointed out. Keep your head up at all times as looking down will get you off balance and also maintain a straight back. This will be your starting position. (Note: For the purposes of this discussion we will use the medium stance described above which targets overall development; however you can choose any of the three stances discussed in the foot stances section).
  4. Begin to lower the bar by bending the knees as you maintain a straight posture with the head up. Continue down until the angle between the upper leg and the calves becomes slightly less than 90-degrees (which is the point in which the upper legs are below parallel to the floor). Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement. Tip: If you performed the exercise correctly, the front of the knees should make an imaginary straight line with the toes that is perpendicular to the front. If your knees are past that imaginary line (if they are past your toes) then you are placing undue stress on the knee and the exercise has been performed incorrectly.
  5. Begin to raise the bar as you exhale by pushing the floor with the ball of your foot mainly as you straighten the legs again and go back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Caution: This exercise is not to be taken lightly as you are applying a lot of pressure to your arms when lifting the barbell. It is always a good idea to have a spotter as they can help you keep proper form. Also, make sure that your back is kept straight as bending it can cause an injury.