Why you must try the Kercher Squat exercise – Apr 15 – John Worthey


The squat is often referred to as “the king of all exercises”, famed for its ability to build an athlete’s strength and power, along with numerous other benefits. Depending on your mobility there are multiple variations of the squat, including the back squat, front squat and overhead squat not to mention pause squats, box squats, squatting with bands and chains and many more. But what about the Zercher (ZSQ) 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.


Pavel Tsatsouline (Strength Coach/Chairman Strong First) says ” A safe ZSQ technique is much easier to learn. The Zercher enables you to fully extend your hips on the top. Zerchers work your midsection very intensely. When the load is held in the front your diaphragm has to work extra hard to stabilise your spine and your whole midsection has to get on with the program.

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. Old school gyms and experimenting with various lifts.


Place the bar in a squat rack positioned at waist height, then squat down and position the bar in the crook of your inner elbows.

2. Make sure the elbows are about shoulder width apart and your knuckles face the ceiling.

3. A couple of options are to hook grip your hands (this will flare your elbows out and you can go for a wider stance) this will help stop the bar rolling out of your forearms or due just clench your hands (this will make your elbows stay close to the body) .

4. Keep the bar tight against your body. Position your feet a few inches wider than shoulder width apart and with your toes slightly turned out.

5. At this bottom position, your elbows should be in contact with your thighs. Drive up by squeezing the glutes and pressing through the heels. Remember to force your knees outwards as you drive upwards.

6. To reverse the movement, simply squat down again. As usual, the mechanics of the actual squat from the hip don’t differ. Initiate the movement by bringing your hips back.

7. Keep in mind that the further away you bring your elbows from your body as you descend, the more torque you’ll place on your lower back (and the more abdominal activity you’ll stimulate).

The Zercher  Squat is easy on the wrists, elbows, and shoulders. The back and the front squats demand good flexibility and skill in carrying the bar. In Zerchers is more simplified. You may find the inside of your forearms suffer but just stick with it.