Zercher Squats – The Update


Ok, so I did a month of Zercher Squats. As a challenging “strongman” exercise, it rocks. As a bodybuilding exercise… I’m still debating…

The problem is, by the time you’ve developed some strength and you get up to your 4-6 rep max or so, it really does get difficult to hold the bar. When you’re up to the heavier poundages it really is a tremendous challenge to the core as well. You have to work very hard to maintain an upright torso.

Now, having lots of trainer friends in the “functional training” field, I understand the value of this, but Im not sure about the value of the exercise as a regular staple in a bodybuilding regimen.

I like the Zerchers, and Im sure you can use them to put some size on your legs, and certainly to develop functional strength and toughness, but after my little zercher experiment, would stick with front squats ahead of zerchers as a long term staple if I wanted that bar-in-front effect. I simply feel that I can hit the quads for hypertrophy more efficiently that way.

For as much as a lot of functional trainers rag on bodybuilding exercsies, the fact is you have to train specific to your sport’s needs. Some exercises may be awesome for “functional strength” but if they require so much total body effort and technique just to execute the movement properly, then the isolation and concentration that you need as a bodybuilder is lost.

By the way, I only partially redeemed myself (after my weak initial workout – see last blog post), the way I see it. Ive front squatted 315 for reps on numerous occasions, but after a month I only got up to 225 lbs on Zerchers and i found the bar falling before I had maxed out my reps. I have to admit, these are tough.

Zerchers are the type of exercise I’d use occasionally for variety as a boredom buster. I recommend that bodybuilders try some different stuff from time to time – even strong man exercises or odd object lifting – but don’t forget your core focus is still aesthetics and hypertrophy.

Until Next time, train hard and expect success,

Tom Venuto

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December 14, 2007

Dan @ 9:52 am #

Thanks for the update Tom! Honestly one of the biggest things I was curious about on Zerchers after reading your last post was how hard it would be to hold the bar at higher poundages. You confirmed my suspicion! Still, I think I might give these a try sometime. Thanks again for the great posts, and keep ’em comin’!

January 10, 2008

Jayoul @ 11:04 am #

Great to hear Tom that you have tried these out. I have tried them out like you and found it hard as the poundages went higher and the safety aspect is always more present with these I think incase your arms fail and the bar falls which could lead to NASTY accident or at the very least a loud bang. I since do these on a Smith Machine and I notice it much better that way and set a limit to the depth I go for safety so when I reach failure I can simply let go and not worry about it. These have been quoted by Louie Simmons in Dead lift secrets as the following ”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” which I would AGREE fully on and it WILL improve your squat technique aswell.

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