Skip to content



Zercher Squat — How to Do It, Muscles Worked, Benefits & Technique


Zercher Squat — How to Do It, Muscles Worked, Benefits & Technique
Table Of Contents

The Zercher Squat is an effective and challenging exercise that works various muscles, including the glutes, hips, and legs. Developed by weightlifting pioneer Ed Zercher in the 1930s, this squat variation has become popular among athletes and strength trainers thanks to its many benefits.

This article will discuss how to perform the Zercher Squat correctly, its variations, muscles worked, and tips to get started.

How to Do the Zercher Squat & Which Muscles are Worked?

To begin the Zercher Squat, you will need a barbell.

  • Begin by standing with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointing outward.
  • Place the barbell or weighted implement in the crook of your elbows.
  • The weight will rest on your forearms and upper arms below your biceps.
  • Then bend your knees and hips to lower yourself into a squat position.
  • Make sure you keep your chest up, back straight, and core engaged as you move down into the squat.
  • Once you have reached the bottom of the movement, press through your mid foot to stand up again.
  • From here, proceed to perform the same movement as above.

The Zercher Squat is an excellent exercise for building strength in several muscles. It mainly targets the glutes and quads but also works the hamstrings, hips, core, and upper back. The muscles in your arms must also work hard to support the weight during each rep.


If you're looking to maximize the tension and strain applied to your quadriceps, look no further than the Zercher squat! This specific type of squat requires that you achieve a deep, vertical position—thus creating greater knee flexion. This enables a better stretch for your quads than other squats, such as hip dominant or slightly less upright ones; it also increases loading.


The glutes are heavily engaged during the squat, especially when you press deeper and lower with each repetition. These muscles act as a stabilizer in the deep portion of the squat to ensure that your form is correct and help provide strength for standing up with power and intent.

Abdominals and Obliques

When weight is shifted away from the midline, your muscles must strain to bear down on it. Front-loading in movements makes them even more exhausting and stimulates the abs and obliques, as you need much better anterior core stability to perform Zercher squats correctly. The increased intensity will push your body further than before!

Lats and Upper Back

Performing the Zercher squat requires you to stand as uprightly as possible by placing and holding the load in front of your body. Your upper back and lat muscles maintain a straight torso while securing the weight around your elbows.

This posture helps improve core strength and can help build overall stability throughout your body.


Engaging your biceps is essential when lifting any type of load. The Zercher squat requires the biceps to be in a constant state of contraction, creating more stability during the movement and allowing you to lift heavier weights easily.

Benefits of Zercher Squats

The Zercher Squats is an excellent exercise for working out various muscle groups and provide the following benefits:

Increased Leg, Glute & Core Strength

Zercher squats allow you to lift heavier weights, which increases the level of strength developed in your legs and glutes. In addition, they require a great deal of core engagement, further strengthening the muscles of your abdomen.

Improved Posture & Flexibility

The Zercher Squat forces you to keep your chest up while maintaining an upright posture during the exercise, improving your overall posture in everyday life.

Furthermore, the Zercher Squat requires a more fantastic range of motion than traditional squats, resulting in improved hip and ankle flexibility. This increased flexibility can help prevent injuries while also improving overall mobility.

Decreases Risk of Injury

By shifting the weight away from the spine and into the arms/shoulders, Zercher squats take some strain off your lower back, reducing any potential for injury caused by lifting heavy weights with poor form.

Challenges Stabilizing Muscles

Because it requires more excellent balance and coordination than traditional squats, Zercher squats force you to recruit additional stabilizing muscles—such as the adductors, hamstrings, and glutes—which can help strengthen your entire body.

By altering how you hold and lift the weight, Zercher squats are more challenging than traditional back squats or front squats, making them an excellent tool for pushing yourself to new limits.

Improved Range of Motion

Due to the unique position of the barbell during Zercher squats, you’ll be able to deepen your squat and expand your range of motion, allowing for a better workout. If you’re looking for a change of pace from your regular squat routine, Zercher Squats can provide a fresh challenge while working for similar muscle groups.

Greater Muscle Activation

As the weight is positioned lower on the body when performing Zercher Squats, more muscles have to be activated throughout the entire exercise, making them especially beneficial for building strength and muscle size.

Speeds Up Fat Burning & Improves Balance

As Zercher squats require more balance than regular squats, they are ideal for improving your overall balance and coordination, specifically for physical activities involving agility.

Additionally, Zercher squats can help you improve your metabolism, speeding up the fat-burning process and resulting in a better physique over time.

Increased Bone Density

In addition to building strong muscles, the weight-bearing nature of Zercher Squats helps increase bone density, which is essential for preventing injuries and issues associated with less bone mass.

Zercher Squat Variations

These variations of the Zercher Squat provide an opportunity to target different muscle groups while still building strength in the same area as the original version. Give them a try and see what works best for you!

Off-Set Zercher Squat

In this variation, you will use a landmine attachment and place one side of the barbell in the crooks of your elbows. You will also have to use a split squat stance instead of a squat stance. This offsets the weight and creates an imbalance that will work different muscles to maintain stability.

How to Do It?

  • Begin by standing in split squat position. Your forward leg will be the one closest to the barbell.
  • Hook both elbows around the sleeve of the barbell.
  • Descend into the split squat to your max depth and explode out of the bottom to the original position.
  • Repeat on both sides for an even workout.

Front Squat

The front squat moves the weight to the front of your body, which changes the angle and how muscles are used.

How to Do It?

  • Begin by holding the barbell across your chest with your elbows up.
  • then lower into a squatting position before pushing back up to standing.

Goblet Squat

This variation uses one or two dumbbells instead of a barbell and is excellent for building strength in your legs and core.

How to Do It?

  • Start by holding one dumbbell at chest height and then lower yourself into a squatting position.
  • Push back up to standing and repeat.
  • Make sure to keep your core engaged throughout the entire movement.

Box Squat

This variation uses a bench or box as a guide and helps with form while still getting in a full-body workout.

How to Do It?

  • Start by setting the bench behind you.
  • Lower yourself into position while holding a barbell or dumbbell, then push back up to standing.

The Right Way to Incorporate Zercher Squats Into Your Routine

When doing any strength training, it’s essential to focus on form. The Zercher Squat is no exception. It’s recommended that you begin with light weight and gradually increase as your form improves.

Start by adding 10-15% of your body weight onto the barbell and use this for practice reps until you are comfortable with the movement. Once ready, add more weight in small increments—5 to 10 pounds at a time—until you reach a challenging but doable weight for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

It’s best to take a few days between sessions so your muscles can recover and adjust to the new weight before increasing again. With practice, you’ll be able to find your ideal weight for the Zercher Squat and get stronger with each workout!

Follow the Zercher squat tips mentioned below to get started:

Start Light: As with any exercise, starting with a weight you can handle is essential. This will ensure you can perform each rep with good form.

Engage Your Core: Your core should be tight throughout each rep to provide stability for the spine and lower back.

Keep Your Chest Up: Make sure your chest remains high throughout each rep to help keep the weight balanced.

Brace Your Arms: Your arms should be tight and support the weight throughout each rep.

Concentrate on the Hip Drive: As you stand back up from the bottom of the squat, drive your hips forward to complete the movement.

The Bottom Line

Overall, Zercher squats are an incredibly beneficial exercise that can help improve your posture, strength, balance, and coordination and provide numerous other health benefits. This is the exercise for you if you’re looking for a challenging way to mix up your workout routine.

So if you’re ready to take on the challenge of Zercher Squats, it’s essential to ensure you have the correct form and technique before attempting any heavy weights. This unique variation on traditional squats can significantly add to your fitness regimen with practice and patience. Happy squatting!

Reading List

Healthier and Happier Life is One Step Away.

Get information on health, fitness and wellness with our weekly newsletter.

Write a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Comment are moderated
  • 8 Tips to Living More Fully in 2023: A Guide to De-Stressing & Mindfulness

    We live in a time of relentless hustle, where modern life is often synonymous with stress and burnout. Making cons...

  • There's More than One Way to Eat for Longevity, According to New Research

    Human health is always a vital concern of all times. Whether you are young or old, when it comes to death, everyon...

  • 7-Day No-Sugar Meal Plan for High Blood Pressure

    Managing high blood pressure can be difficult, often requiring drastic lifestyle changes to help keep it in check....

  • Personalized Nutrition: Regain Your Power Over Weight Loss & Improve Your Health

    Are you tired of constantly being confused by the competing information about nutrition, diets, and successful wei...

  • How to Choose the Best Barbell for Your Weightlifting Needs

    If you are a weightlifter or trying your hand at it for the first time, you might be a little confused about which...

  • The Ultimate Guide to Choose the Best Pull-Up Bar for Your Door Safety

    Pull-up bars are the most convenient exercise tool, but they can cause serious damage to your doors. Although you ...

  • Greek Yogurt — 8 Reasons Why Greek Yogurt is the Best Food to Lose Weight Fast

    Did you know that Greek yogurt can help you lose weight faster? That's right! Eating Greek yogurt daily can be a g...

  • What is Thermogenesis: A Complete Guide on How to Burn More Calories

    Taglines like "increase your metabolism," "thermogenesis," and "thermogenic" are commonplace if you've ever shoppe...

  • It's Hard to Convince Your Child to Put Down the Phone and Go for a Run. Here's How to Go About It.

    Playtime, such as rushing through the park, finding a place to hide, and jumping on the swings, is usually the hig...

  • Nearly Half of Active Military Troops Use Sports Supplements, According to Research.

    The new study published in the International Society for Sports Nutrition Journal investigated the use of a catego...

  • Start your fitness journey today!

    Take an extra 10% off your order.

    reach out

    Toll Free: (833) 366-6733

    5700 Crooks Road, Troy, Michigan 48098

    *By submitting this form you are signing up to receive our emails and can unsubscribe at any time.

    Related Products to This Article

    Join over 235,000 other people who get our weekly health and fitness tips Free of spam, static, and fluff.

    *By submitting this form you are signing up to receive our emails and can unsubscribe at any time.

    Only in the DMoose App.

    Get exclusive access, member rewards, and more.