Thursday, January 5, 2012
That's Ed Zercher right there (or so google would have me believe), doing a feat of strength, skinny old man legs n' all. Mr Zercher was apparently a famous weightlifter/strongman in the 1930s whose legacy to us all was the--c'mon, you got this--the--the--that's right! the Zercher squat!
For those of you who don't know and who just cannot be arsed to watch the videos I painstakingly search youtube for just for your benefit, sigh, a Zercher squat is a front barbell squat with the bar held in the crook of the elbows. This is officially my new favorite exercise. But I've only done them once for practice and once for real, so, y'know, that might change. Right now I think they are the most fun you can have with 85% of your clothes on.
Oh! and that's one point I want to bring up right away. I initially tried these after failing very sadly at regular front squats. I just could not get the bar into a position that wasn't either digging into my clavicles or choking me. After I whined online about that (and made the obligatory bad sex joke about choking because, yes, I *am* just that immature), one of my online weightlifting buddies suggested the Zercher as an alternate quad-specific squat. However, she warned, they are uncomfortable on that inner elbow area. Oh! I said, I'll just do them wearing a hoodie. (As all my friends know, I own very many hoodies.) However, I didn't actually need a hoodie--a long sleeved t-shirt worked just fine, at least at the piddly weights I started out on. But, yeah, do wear sleeves to do these or, as another friend suggested, wrap a towel around the bar. Anything to cushion the pressure. This is NOT, I will have you know, analogous to using the pussy pad to back squat, an activity we here at MMINAE do not and will not countenance. You are not a sniveling wuss for wearing sleeves or wrapping the bar to Zercher. If you use the pussy pad, however, we can't be friends anymore. Oh, okay, we can, but I'll mock you. Just a little.
Besides hitting up the quads without making you feel like you have a barbell in your trachea, the Zercher has other benefits. It is supposedly the safest squat for your spine, so if you have back problems that preclude regular back squats, it might be a good alternative for you.*** However? Skip to around 2:30 of this video. (Or watch the whole thing. You got something better to do?)
Did you SEE how rounded his back was on that "Zercher deadlift"? Eek. My spine almost herniated a disk just watching that. From this I can conclude, Zercher squat=good for spine, Zercher deadlift=not so fucking much. In fairness, this dude went onto make more SquatRx videos, so apparently he ain't crippled himself yet.
Another benefit of the Zercher in my scant experience is that you can go low. By which I mean to say, I can go low. ATG, as they say. I found it extremely satisfying to feel my elbows slip between my thighs and have the bar actually touch the tops of them and KNOW I was down as far as I could possibly be, to know with that cue that there was no way I could accidentally/unconsciously cheat any of my reps.
The final benefit of these, at least in my gym, is that they will make people look at you and think, "WTF is she doing?" They are a fairly obscure exercise, but one that looks kinda old skool and badass. Extra points, I guess, if you do them wearing a hoodie with Ed Zercher's likeness on it. BRB, adding that to my gift guide!
***We here at MMINAE do not give out unsolicited medical advice nor do we take any responsibility for you doing something fucking stupid. Clear this shite with your orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist, okay?