Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Zercher Squat: All kinds of Awesome!

If you spend enough time in improvise mode when you train, there are certain exercises that will seem to pop up regularly in your repertoire. It's hard to beat one arm push-ups, single leg squat work, or some sort of planking when the ability to go to a proper place of fitness diminishes. That's the BW-side of strength training. When I decide to start picking up stuff to get strong, then it's really hard to not stop Zercher squatting.
It's called a pump rotor. Approximately 4" diameter, solid steel. Weight: about 160 lbs
The reason's pretty simple: you can zercher squat just about any object that will fit in the crooks of your elbows. Sandbags, rocks, barbells, odd stuff, or heavy pipe can be Zerchered. Plus, you don't need to lift nearly as heavy an object with the Zercher to get a challenge since the object being lifted is in front of the back rather than directly over it.
The practicality of the Zercher squat doesn't end there. The human body is capable of lifting stupid amounts of weight with the back squat but how much heavy shit do you really pick up land put down like that in real life? Most often, the said pain-in-the-ass heavy object that needs moving is going to be in front of the body, not above it, nicely put in position with the help of some sort of rack. Life's rarely that convenient. No, you're going to grab it in a manner that looks sort of like (although not exactly the same) as a Zercher Squat.
The Zercher's also a lot more of a full-body exercise than many of the other squat variations too. The arms and the upper back muscles really get pulled into the torture session. The abs are also pulling some major overtime here too since they've got to stabilize the spine. I also find this squat variation a lot easier to go ass-to-grass (ATG) on this one, if you're into that.
By the time I got around to taking this picture, I wasn't that into ATG!

What I think that I love most about the Zercher Squat is that it works so well in conjunction with farmer's walking. As soon as I finish up my squatting, I just start walking with the weight (usually the sandbag) in my arms, cradling my little bundle of miserable joy! It's a brutal combination!
It makes sense that the Zercher is so awesomely convenient. Ed Zercher's workout area, according to straighttothebar.com looked as much like a scrapyard as it did a gym. Zercher regularly trained with oddball pieces of steel that he picked up here and there. Clearly, he was one of a few strongmen who relied very heavily on improvising. With strongman and the whole "old is new" mentality out there amongst strength trainers, The Zercher Squat offers a perfect blend of practicality and performance. Give it a try and you won't be disappointed.

Good description of Zercher execution

13 comments:

Jim Arkus said...

Fantastic.. exactly the kind of thing I've been looking for in the last few days. Thanks!

John Cintron said...

Justin

That looks really bad ass. What kind of pipe is that? How much does it weigh? Really cool pictures!

John

Justin_PS said...

Oops, forgot to add a description of that piece of steel. Thanks, John. I corrected it!

Thanks for the compliments guys!

Chris said...

Isn't the point of the Farmer's Walk to build grip strength though?

John Cintron said...

Justin

That looks so cool. how am I going to convince my wife to let me bring that into the apartment.lol 160 I weigh about 175 thats a nice amount of weight

John

Justin_PS said...

Is it, Chris? I dunno... what I do know is that Zercher Walks fry the biceps and the upper back muscles like you would not believe!

John, I'll make a deal with you: you find me a way to convince my wife to let me get a dog and I'll find you convince your wife to get a burned-out rotor.

Deal?

John Cintron said...

Justin

A dog can't be hard. The burnt out Rotor she would kill me. I have in our bedroom. Two weight vests, chains,3 pairs of kb's ,perfect pushups and iron gym plus and abwheel. I carry the stuff to the gym in the next building. So how hard can a dog be.Just give her extra TLC and do something romantic that will work with your wife that is what my wife likes.

John

Scott Larones said...

It's interesting that the older man leg pressing a lot of weight appears to have kinda scrawny looking legs. What's more interesting to me is, why the heck are you ATG squatting in joint constricting blue jeans? ;)

Justin_PS said...

That's not ATG and those aren't jeans. That's scrap metal that I'm squatting at work and I just got done work when I was doing that. My joints weren't hindered either.

Furthermore, are you really going to pick on the legs of a, what I presume to be, 80-year old man? Isn't the fact that he's daring to do a leg press with a BARBELL at his obviously-advanced age far more notable than the fact that his legs are skinny?

Scott Larones said...

They look like blue jeans to me, and you referenced that you were doing ATG, so sorry that I presumed that you were doing ATG in blue jeans. My statement was said in jest anyway.

I’m not sorry for commenting on his legs. The lack of visual muscularity for a male who’s able to press large poundage is mystifying to me.

And one more thing, you’re a good writer, better than most.

Justin_PS said...

Scott, I don't take a lot very seriously. I wear Dickies at work. I get wet a lot and they dry faster than jeans.

I don't know if you're new to my place here but I don't put a lot of emphasis on having the perfect clothing, setting, or equipment. I'm big on getting the most out of the time that I have with the items at hand. Sure, I'd rather work out in something that I don't risk blowing the ass out of but right after work, then and there, was the only time I had to work out. So, I make the most of it.

Thanks for stopping, your compliments, and hopefully I'll see more of you soon.

Chris said...

If you haven't had the pleasure of flipping through it I highly recommend Kubick's Dinosaur Training, the section on grip strength is phenomenal imho.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff.I work at a foundry and most of the time the only way to carry the cut up scrap is in the crook of the arms.I do alot of sledgehammer work,run a air hammer and grinder and shovel steel shot for 10-12 hours a night.Zerchers have helped me build strength i can use every night at work.