As you can see by the pictures, the Zercher squat is quite a nasty squat, and the first question most beginners ask is, Why bother with the Zercher squatting technique at all? The reason is that you need variety in your workout routine. Even changes as subtle as going from a back squat to a Zercher squat will alter the muscles being used, the muscles being pulled, and the load you put on your lower back.
Rest your shoulders, hips and wrists with the Zercher Squat
Repetitive-strain and repetitive-damage injuries are a common problem for people that do not mix it up a little. Give your shoulders, hips and wrists a break by using the Zercher squatting technique. It helps you workout your core a little better than many of the abs-specific moves, and the lower center of gravity means you will find it easier to balance, which will reduce your number of potential injuries.
How it is done
Place the bar at a height just below your mid chest, wrap your arms under the bar and lift it off the rack. Allow your elbows to go down a little so they come to a naturally comfortable position. Step away from the rack, open up your stance with your feet slightly apart and toes pointing outwards. Squat, but keep your back straight and rise up again.
Which muscles are you working?
This move will work your Quadriceps the most, as well as your Glutes, Calves and Hamstrings. You use a pushing force, and it is generally reserved for the more advanced weightlifter because a degree of control is needed that is often beyond beginners and intermediates.
Wrapping the bar with a towel
Use Zercher too often and it starts to rub and irritate the thin layer of skin on your arms where the bar makes contact. It is also troubling for beginners and they feel they need a towel wrapped around the bar. The best advice is not to do it! Too many people have had the bar slip, and as a result of either it being unbalanced, or the weight falling, it has resulted in injury.
The biggest reason for permanent damage comes from pushing yourself too far. You can push yourself to the limit with back squats and move a lot more weight. But, you try to push it to the limit with the Zercher technique and you put a lot of stress on your bicep tendon. Do not forget you are resting the weight on your brachialis and/or on your tendon.
If you do want to push your weight up a little, then it is going to be dangerous. Sadly, one of the few ways to push up the weight without using a front squat Zercher harness is by using a piece of wood, which makes the whole process even more dangerous. The picture below shows a piece of wood placed at the crook of his elbows with the bar being placed on it. This is possible, but not recommended because the chances of the bar slipping are increased dramatically.
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