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Zercher Squat – Effective Exercise For Gaining Quadriceps Mass

The Zercher Squat is an unusual strength exercise for developing the muscles of the thighs, in particular the quadriceps. Ed Zercher (Canadian athlete) invented them in the 30s of the last century. They have become widespread due to their effectiveness. Today the Zercher squat is an important part of the training program for many professional athletes.

Exercise anatomy

Quadriceps take the main load by doing the Zercher squat. The hamstrings, calves, and buttocks are included too. The biceps and shoulder muscles work to hold the barbell. The back muscles and abs stabilize the position of the body.

The effectiveness of the exercise is associated with the work of large muscle groups and the unusual amplitude of motion. A non-standard strength load leads to the rapid gain of muscles.

You can do Zercher squats in or out of a power rack. In the first case, you take the barbell from the power rack and start to do the exercise. In the second case, use less weight. You lift the barbell off the floor. Therefore, the amplitude becomes larger. It makes the exercise more difficult. In addition, the likelihood of injury increases. In any case, try to control the exercise technique.

As regards the work of the joints, the main condition for their safety is the absence of jerks during the movement and the correct position of the back. Keep your back correctly, and don’t jerk. It will help prevent joint trauma. The back should always be flat with a natural arch in the lumbar area. Thanks to that, the load will not pass from the muscles to the spine. The knees should not go beyond the toe line.

Of course, there is a risk of injury by any strength exercise with large weights. Adherence to the correct technique and careful attention to your own body will minimize the chance of trauma.

Zercher Squat is an excellent exercise for both women and men. However, women should use the minimum weight and the assistance of a trainer or partner. It should be noted that this type of squats is created for professional athletes. The Zercher squat is a difficult and traumatic exercise. If you are not confident in your abilities, ask a partner to help you.

You can use the Zercher Squat to overcome stagnation in classic barbell squats and deadlifts.

Injuries to the knees, elbow joints, or spine are contraindications for exercise.

Zercher squat technique

Do exercise in the power rack to improve safety. Adjust the height of the stops. The barbell should be level between your belly and chest. Next, install the required weight on the barbell. Take your hands together by placing one palm in the other. Place the barbell in the bend of the elbow joints, between the shoulder and forearm.

1Carefully lift the bar off the rack, keeping your forearms to your chest. Hold the bar firmly on your bent arms

2Move slightly away from the power rack and place your feet wider than your shoulders. The toes are turned outward. Straighten your back and neck. Look ahead. A slight deflection should appear in the lower back. It’s the starting position

3Inhale and slowly sit down, bending your knees and pulling your hips back. It’s important, that the knees are directed on the same side as the feet. Make sure that your back remains straight and the lower back arched. Lower yourself until an angle of 90 ° or fewer forms between your thighs and calves. The elbow joints touch the knees at the lowest point

4Push off the floor and stand up while exhaling

Do 8-12 reps and return the barbell to the power rack. Relax and go to the next set.


Workout tips and tricks

Use the following tips to make the Zercher squat as effective as possible:

  • Beginners need to master the standard barbell squats. And only then try to the more complex version

  • Don’t lean back in the upper phase of the movement. It’s dangerous due to the likelihood of falling on your back

  • The knees should be directed the same as the toes. That is, the hips and feet should be in the same plane

  • Beginners should work out in a sweater with long sleeves. This will prevent the rubbing of arms with a barbell. If you want to protect your skin, wrap a terry towel around the bar. It’s true for workouts with moderate weights

  • Do exercise with comfortable weights. It’s best to start with a lightweight. When you fully master the technique and then gradually increase the load. The right weight will allow you to do at least 12 reps

Exercise frequency matters. At first, you should replace regular squats with Zercher exercise. However, it’s not more often than once a week. In the future, you can do Zercher squats 2 times a week. It’s enough for the harmonious building of the body.


The Zercher Squat is an advanced exercise for the complex strengthening of the musculature. It’s also a powerful quadriceps exercise. The main thing is to follow the exercise technique. Zercher squats give quick and notable results.

I'm a professional fitness instructor and nutritionist, runner, husband and father. I do my best in providing the right guidance when it comes to the grounds of sexual health, nutrition and common fitness.

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