The Zercher Squat is a great exercise...and one that you'll almost NEVER see anybody doing.
It works the legs AND the core very strongly, because of how you hold the weight. It originated as a way to do squats before power racks were widely available.
Instead of supporting the weight on your shoulders, you instead cradle the bar in the crooks of your elbows. This position puts tremendous tension on the supporting muscles of the midsection.
Two of the reasons you'll almost never see this exercise being done is that first, it is extremely tough on the core area to perform. Most people immediately decide it's too hard and don't ever do it again.
Second, it's not very comfortable on the arms. This can be mitigated with a barbell pad or a towel wrapped around the bar.
So normally, you would perform this exercise with a barbell...either from the floor, with the bar starting in the rack or on a bench. I've also done this exercise with a dumbbell (starting from the floor or a bench).
THIS version of the exercise is basically the same as a barbell version only you'll be using the low-pulley cable stack instead of a barbell.
This has a few differences from the barbell Zercher Squat exercise...
1. You don't need a rack to do it and you don't have to start with the bar on the floor.
2. You also get forward-pulling resistance with the cable version because of the angle, which increases tension on the core area.
So start by putting a bar attachment on the low pulley and setting a moderate weight on the stack (you can increase this one you get an idea of how much you can lift). I prefer the straight bar attachment for this.
Squat down in front of the pulley then put the bar in the crooks of your elbows.
Now get yourself set in the bottom of the squat, with your arms bent.
Then stand up! You'll notice that I'm leaning back a bit as I come up to counter the forward pulling of the pulley.
If you've never done Zercher Squats before, this is an easy way to give it a try and really feel the benefits of this underused exercise.
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