The benefits associated with performing Zercher squats on a regular basis include developing overall strength and muscle mass. As I explained in the article: Zercher Squats for Explosive Power and Muscular Development, the Zercher squat is among the most effective variations of squats for those who wish to build mind-blowing muscle mass and incredible explosive strength.
Zercher squats are performed simply by placing a barbell in the crooks of your elbows, holding the bar tight against your upper body and performing a full squatting movement. It is important to keep the upper body upright and use the glutes and hamstrings to explode out of the bottom portion of the movement.
While the benefits of Zercher squats are many, below are perhaps the three most important reasons you should incorporate them into your bodybuilding or fitness program.
1. Zercher Squats Build Huge Traps
Zercher squats place tremendous stress on the trapezius muscles of the upper back. So much so that you may experience immediate muscle growth in your upper back when you add the Zercher squat into your workout program. The trapezius muscles work hard to maintain the position of the shoulder girdle and upper body while holding the barbell close to your body.
I’ve never seen a person who performs Zercher squats on a regular basis who doesn’t have a massive set of well-developed traps. Take a look at how yoked most strongman competitors are as many of the movements they perform mimic the Zercher squat.
When performing multiple sets of eight to twelve repetitions of Zercher squats, the traps scream for mercy as they contract to keep your shoulder blades pulled back and together. Continuous tension is required for maximal muscle growth and that’s exactly what happens when you hold the barbell in the crooks of your arms and fight to keep your upper body upright while performing the Zercher squat.
2. Zercher Squats Help Give You Bigger Squat
The Zercher squat directly targets the muscles that are needed most when performing the traditional back squat. The hamstrings, glutes and core are the primary muscles used when squatting. The Zercher squat seems to zero in on these muscles and help improve their flexibility, endurance and explosive power.
When performing the Zercher squat correctly, that is deep in the hole with an explosive ascent, the hips, glutes and hamstrings work to propel the body upward while the core keeps the body tight and upright. Adding the Zercher squat to any squat routine can greatly improve the ability to handle maximal weights and increase endurance for greater ability to increase workload.
3. Zercher Squats Strengthen Your Core
There is not a single exercise that you perform, or any movement your body makes for that matter, that doesn’t require the use of your abdominal and low back muscles. Zercher squats place great emphasis on the core by requiring the abdominal and low back muscles to keep the upper body upright during the entire range of motion.
The core strengthening benefit that the Zercher squat provide will carry over to almost every other exercise you perform. A stronger core will help keep you tight while bench pressing, help you handle bigger weights while squatting and help you pull more weight while deadlifting.
Discomfort Performing the Zercher Squat
Make no mistake about it, Zercher squats hurt. It’s not merely the intense muscular contractions, heavy respiratory requirements and painful lactic acid build up that causes pain; these are aspects of squatting that real athletes endure.
The real pain and discomfort comes from holding the heavy barbell in the crooks of the elbows. The knurling of the bar tends to rub and dig into the skin, sometimes causing abrasions. Skin discoloration and unsightly bruising can also occur on the forearms from the repeated abuse that Zercher squats provide.
Certainly you don’t want to bleed on a barbell at a commercial gym and you really don’t want to use a barbell that someone else has bled or sweat on with the possibility of breaking your skin while performing Zercher squats. A common remedy is to wrap a towel or squat pad on the barbell to reduce the discomfort and physical trauma that Zercher squats can cause.
Solution: Zercher Squat Device
I’ve been using and endorsing the Zercher squat device for years now and I believe that there is no better, more comfortable way to perform Zercher squats. The device is designed to handle hundreds of pounds of Olympic plate weights and is built to make it easy to correctly perform the Zercher squat without causing pain and injury to the arms.
When using the Zercher squat device, balance problems, pain and the learning curve are eliminated and the benefits of Zercher squats can be experienced immediately.
If you are looking to build monstrous traps, quickly improve your squat and build incredible core strength, add Zercher squats into your program. To experience these benefits more quickly and without pain or injury, give the Zercher squat device a try. This exercise may become your favorite as you see your traps grow and your explosive strength skyrocket.