The name Ed Zercher probably means very little to most people in the world. However, Ed created what might be one of the best strength building techniques out there. He is hailed as the creator of the Zercher position, most commonly used in the Zercher squat.
There are plenty of articles out there about Ed, his legacy and movement ‘how-to’s. However, today we are just talking about the pros and cons. We also have some advice for adding the Zercher position to your workouts.
Using the Zercher position (holding the barbell in the crook of the elbows) can be very beneficial. Here’s why:
- Your upper back, especially the traps, will become stronger due to the forward position of the bar.
- Maintaining the correct posture during the movement requires bracing your core very firmly. This not only helps make your core stronger, but also shines a spotlight on a weak core.
- The quads, glutes and biceps will all be activated in different ways due to the unique position of the barbell.
- The position can be helpful or more comfortable for people with long limbs or a poor front rack position.
Like any movement, the Zercher position is not without its drawbacks.
- To get the bar into a Zercher position, you usually bring it up from the floor. This can be listed under benefits if done properly. However, if done improperly it comes with some serious risks of injury. I typically suggest loading this position from the rig to make it a little safer.
- If you have a weaker core and lower back issues you might want to focus on building that core stability first before trying the challenging Zercher movement.
- The Zercher position can make breathing difficult, due to the bar/arms pressing into the chest.
- It can be uncomfortable on the arms, especially if using a standard barbell without any kind of padding. An axel bar will help this issue but only slightly. Personally, I usually label this as a positive aspect. This is because it creates an uncomfortable situation that forces you to accept the pain and work through it. However, I recognize that most people do not feel the same way.
How To Use The Zercher Position In Your Workouts
Pick one exercise a week to do in the Zercher position, and build up from there. As far as picking which movement, you have plenty of options. Squats, lunges, holds, carries, step ups, deadlifts – the list goes on.
I will add a word of wisdom. If you are not used to them, go lighter than you think you need to. These can bring out the inner baby of even the most seasoned lifter.
Not sure you are doing the Zercher correctly? Contact BNCF today for your free intro. As a member, you get access to world class coaching, convenient location and more.