Exercise Anatomy

The Zercher Squat

Learn the right way to perform this underrated but effective exercise.

Variance is king in CrossFit. Therefore, squatting with the load in different positions, using different stances and even trying new implements can keep your training progressing while allowing you to have fun with new movements. Zercher squats, in which the bar is held in front of the body in the crook of the elbow, are a beautiful way to demand upright posture, train variance and grow your strength.

1. The Setup


Begin with an axle bar (a bigger diameter will be more comfortable) held in the crook of both elbows. Hands can be clasped together high and close to the chest to “rack” the barbell. The bar shouldn’t pull on the biceps.

Given the bar’s placement, the challenge of this move is in preventing the bar from pulling you forward. With core and upper-back strength coming at a premium, stay rigid through your torso.

2. The Movement


With your feet flat on the ground at about shoulder width, initiate the movement by sending your hips back and then down. Keep tension in your body as you pass through a complete range of motion.


With an upright torso being critical to the movement’s success, athletes should “spread the floor” to externally rotate at hip level to avoid forward inclination as much as possible.

3. The Return


Press through the whole foot until standing fully at the top. This completes one rep.