The Zercher squat – where the bar is held in the crook of the elbows – can build quads better than the front squat. It can jack up your traps better than shrugs. It can give you a core of steel faster than most ab work. It can even give you bigger biceps.
5 Benefits of Zercher Squats
1. Upper back gains and front squat improvement
The Zercher position increases the involvement of the whole upper back musculature: the traps, rhomboids, and rear delts. So in that regard, the Zercher squat can help solidify the back during the front squat and deadlift. If your weakness in the front squat is "losing" your upper back on the way up – your upper back rounds and the bar drops forward – then the Zercher squat will help you.
2. A harder core contraction
Zercher squats can work your core harder than regular squats. So if your weakness in the squat is your mid-section, the Zercher squat will be a formidable movement for you.
3. Increased glute and quad work
The Zercher squat is the squat variation that allows you to go the deepest. Yes, even deeper than the front squat. That makes it a great movement to build the quads and glutes. But it's also a very solid assistance exercise to increase your strength out of the hole in the squat.
4. Helpful for those with long limbs
Because of the capacity to go lower, this movement is especially effective for people with longer limbs.
5. Biceps action
This movement requires an intense isometric action from the biceps to hold the barbell in place. So while it's not primarily a biceps-building exercise, it will contribute to making your guns bigger and stronger, especially if you use higher reps.