Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday's Workout: Zerch & Destroy

Back in the 1930s, you couldn't exactly roll into your local Dick's Sporting Goods and pick up a squat rack for your home gym. Even big-name competitive powerlifters and professional strongmen like Missouri's Ed Zercher didn't have one.

So Zercher did the next best thing: He loaded a barbell on the floor, deadlifted it up to mid-thigh, squatted down and balanced the bar on his quads. From there, he reached his arms under the bar and grasped it in the crook of his elbows -- and stood up.

This combo came to be known as the Zercher Squat. For decades, it's been used across the globe by lifters looking to improve their squatting; more than almost anything else, it boosts strength in the deep squat position, where folks are generally weakest and least stable. An added bonus: Zercher squats are fun. In the ten months since I joined CrossFit Palo Alto, we've done a few Zercher cycles, and they've been among my favorites.

We don't do 'em from the floor, though. (Why? Probably because Tim doesn't want to put everyone in traction. Go figure.) Instead, our Zercher squats are done from racks. They look something like this:

As you can see, they are awesomely awesome. And we got to do them again this morning.

The details of today's workout, after the jump...

Strength Skill:
  • Zercher Squats (2 sets of 5, 3 sets of 3)
Felt good and strong today -- and using a thick bar made the crooks of my elbows very, very happy. I would've been happy to go right on Zercher squatting for the rest of the hour, but class wouldn't be complete without a heart-pounding metcon, right?


4 rounds for time:
  • 240-meter run
  • 9 cleans (135/95)
  • 12 Games standard push-ups (hands off the floor at the bottom of the movement)
I went with 115 pounds instead of the RXed 135. On the final round of cleans, I ended up dumping the bar after every rep or two, which told me two things: (1) the weight I picked was heavy enough for me, and (2) I need to get much, much stronger. But otherwise, this WOD actually felt pretty good.

Result: 11:05. I coulda and shoulda done better.