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Zercher Squat

This squat pattern has a great application in contact sports, as well as those performers doing partner work of carrying heavy props. The front loaded nature put a lot of work into the quadriceps and unlike most squat patterns the carrying position puts lots of work into the biceps and front of the shoulder which is vital for heavy or fast lifting of partners. Having the weight held in this position moves your centre of gravity forwards and this challenges the back to a very large degree.

Other cues

Keep shoulder blades slightly pinched

Keep fists clenched tight

Zip up your abdominals

Keep breathe braced, especially at the transition between down and up

Targeted muscles trained


Thoracic extension

Lumbar extension

Gluteus maximus

Biceps brachii

Anterior deltoid

Key movements trained

Elbow flexion

Shoulder flexion

Knee extension

Hip extension

Thoracic anti-extension

Lumbar anti-extension


Due to the position of your centre of mass, which is being pulled forwards by the weight, you back muscles in the lumbar and thoracic regions are working very hard to maintain an upright posture and effective form.

There are similarities in terms of patterning for the Zercher and Goblet squats. However, Zercher Squats will allow you to add more load to the exercise, if your goal is to push more load within a front loaded pattern.

Intra-abdominal pressure is high during this exercise, therefore it will test the strength of your abdominal wall. Ensure you maintain a braced trunk on the lowering and transition phase to ensure the effect bracing of the lower back.

Caution will need to be applied if your have recent injury or pain history to the elbow, biceps or front of the shoulder and professional advice should be taken before undertaking this exercise.

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