Wrestling Training- Zercher Lifts 1

An image of man straining to perform a heavy Zercher squat where the bar is held in the crook of his elbows.

This post begins the exercise descriptions portion of the In-Season series. In this series I’ll detail some of the exercises that I included in an early in-season lifting program for a college wrestler I train via email.

Wrestling Training- In-Season Power Development is the original post. In it I detail some of the principles I feel are valuable to follow during the season.

Here’s part of the program I’ll be referring to.

Day 1:

a. Kneeling Jump (4×4)
a. Speed Russian Twist (4×12)
a. Plyo Pushup (4×4)
b. Zercher Squat (4×6)
b. DB Windmill (4×8)
c. DB RDL (4×8)
c. Feet Elevated DB Pushup (3x AMAP)
c. Pullup (3x AMAP)

As you can see in Day 1, the first strength exercise is the Zercher Squat. I have this wrestler performing for 4 sets of 6 reps. Here’s a quick video of me performing a Zercher Squat.

The Zercher Squat is simply a free squat performed with the bar held in your elbows. It doesn’t take a genius to see how this carries over to the strength needed to finish more leg attacks.

One issue you may run into is if you don’t have access to a fat bar. You may notice that as you begin to work up in weight a standard bar may dig into your biceps causing discomfort.

While I can’t imagine this will lead to an injury, it may discourage you from working up as heavy as you may like. So, if you don’t have access to a fat bar, use a towel or a squat pad to help minimize any pain in your arms.

Keys To Success

There are a couple of key things to keep in mind while performing the Zercher Squat.

First, you want to keep your chest up as much as possible. The Zercher Squat has a very similar feel to a Front Squat in that there is a lot of forward pull. So focus on keeping your core braced and your chest up.

The second thing you’ll need to consider is your range of motion. As with any other squat, your intention should be to get as low as possible. However, because of where the bar is held, you can’t always get as low without the bar hitting your quads.

Just do the best you can. Again, focus on keeping your torso as upright as possible. This will help keep the bar from coming in contact with your legs.

Finally, keep this in mind- most of the time the weak link in the movement is going to be your ability to hold the weight in your arms.

This doesn’t mean that you need to start hitting heavy curls every time you go to the gym (your arms shouldn’t be stronger than your legs).

Just understand that your arms are the limiting factor in this equation. As a result this squat variation isn’t going to cause an overload on your legs as a traditional squat would. So rotate the Zercher Squat in with traditional squats every couple of weeks. It will give your legs a bit of a break while simultaneously challenging you due to the unique demands it places on your body.

Because you’re not going to handle as much weight, this makes the Zercher Squat a great squat variation to perform on days when you feel banged up but were planning on squatting. You could also use the Zercher variation if you wanted to get a squat in a few days before a match but didn’t want to overload your body.

No matter how you plan to work it in to your program, definitely find a way to do it during the season.

To read the next post in the series on some more ways to implement Zercher style lifts into your training plan Zercher Lifts 2.

A picture of Kyle Dake and Dickie White.
Hi, I’m Dickie (the author of this blog). Here I am with my good buddy, Kyle Dake. While he doesn't have a nice coat like me, he is pretty good at wrestling. Here's what he said about my training system:

Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

-Kyle Dake, 4X NCAA Division 1 National Champion

Want to see what other wrestlers are saying about my training system? Check out my Success Stories page.


Want to learn more about Dickie? Check out my About page.


Want to get started on a program today? Read this post and download your free program- 12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.