Created by 1930s strongman Ed Zercher, the Zercher squat positions the barbell in the crook of the elbows instead of across the front delts or upper back. Doing so takes pressure off the spine and lower back and recruits the biceps and core as you squat.

An unpadded bar can feel like a damn katana sword slicing into your arms, so Zercher squat virgins (unlike this guy) should pad the bar with a towel until any discomfort fades. Sub in this squat variety for back or front squats, or leg presses.

How to do it

Set a bar on a rack that’s level with your lower chest. (For added comfort, wrap a towel or squat pad around the bar.) Hook your arms under the bar so it rests in the bends of your elbows. Keep your back straight and biceps flexed as you squat low and drive through your heels to return to the start position.