Perhaps the single most important factor that makes the hanging kettlebellZerchersquat so effective is the overall comfort level and natural feel it produces in comparison to the barbell version. This is perhaps the element of the hanging kettlebellZerchersquat that most surprised me as I was relatively certain before attempting these that the load would have to be substantially reduced compared to the barbell version.
Although the hanging kettlebellZerchersquat feels incredibly comfortable and natural, it simultaneously provides a moderate level of instability that the lifter must learn to control. Similarly, the hanging nature of the load forces the lifter to flex the daylights out of their lats and upper back.
If your upper back rounds or your shoulder flex forward the weight will also drift out away from you providing immediate feedback about your posture and spinal alignment. In fact, to accommodate the bulky weights and fit them between your legs requires the lifter to open their hips and spread their knees apart (a critical component of proper squat mechanics).
While an excessive weight dominance would cause the barbell to tilt, more than likely most individuals have one side they favor slightly when performing Teacher squats even if it’s just by a few percent. Fortunately, the hanging kettlebellZerchersquat involves ipsilateral loading meaning that each side must work equally and independently.
In fact, you’ll most likely notice that one side is significantly easier due to common asymmetries involved with core and spinal stabilization. Although the core will most likely fatigue before the legs will, once you return to more traditional symmetrically loaded Teacher squats you’ll notice you’re able to handle significantly more weight due to an improved ability to brace your core and create inordinately high levels of full body tension.
Here I’m performing 8 unique landmine variations using the Clean & Jerk attachment from Promotion with several of my awesome clients including Leslie Pitch, Ben Lie, and Mitch Ellis. Although this training tool is typically used for more traditional variations, I’ve found that using the middle railing provides many unique options including Teacher squats variations as well as fat grip options that crush the grip and forearms including rows, presses, and more.
The angular force vectors also feel quite comfortable and natural making these very user-friendly and easy on the joints. Besides being very comfortable and user-friendly, they feel incredibly safe and natural for the low back, knees, and hips.
Because we can lean into the movement and drive with our hips (due to the slight anteroposterior loading) these are also incredibly sports specific as most athletic activities involve a combination of both vertical and horizontal forces rather than just one or the other as in the case of barbell variations. Another very effective option for performing landmine Zerchersquat variations is simply slipping hanging ab straps onto the collars of the barbell as I demonstrate here alongside my awesome physique athletes Leslie Pitch and Eric McIntyre.
In fact, when it comes to single arm Teacher squats, these are tough to beat as they provide an incredibly intense stimulus to the core while also allowing heavy loading to the hips and legs. Be prepared for your upper back and arms to take a pounding as well as you can go unusually heavy on these while still feeling safe and controlled.
For folks who have trouble with the barbell digging into their elbow crease or biceps tendon, these also provide nice relief although they do pull slightly against the skin if you don’t get them in the appropriate position. In fact, this variation provides even greater core activation due to the anti-lateral flexion and anti-rotation component created from the pivoting landmine station.
Although I don’t frequently incorporate smith machine movements into my routines I do periodically use it for implementing unique variations such as Band 2:1 eccentric loading as well as a handful of other drills (read more here). Recently I’ve found the smith machine to be one of the best ways to overload single arm Teacher squats in a safe and effective method similar to the hanging ab strap variations shown above.
Although there’s not a significant amount of instability since the bar is fixed into a specific path, the core activation produce from This is inordinately high due to the extreme offset/single side loading. Even the slightest amount of excessive anterior knee drift will make it literally impossible to descend into the squat.
Similarly, the hanging nature of the bar forces the lifter to flex the daylights out of their lats and upper back. If your upper back rounds or your shoulder flex forward the bar will also drift out away from you providing immediate feedback about your posture and spinal alignment.
In fact, you may find that the trap bar feels even more natural to hold in the Teacher position than a traditional barbell. However, one key point that many lifters will notice is that the good morning feels much more natural with the trap bar compared to a traditional barbell.
In fact, I’ve noticed I can handle heavier weight on the Teacher good morning using the trap bar than I can with a traditional Olympic barbell. Here’s one of my awesome clients Leslie Pitch showing how it’s done with 95 pounds which would be verging on being overly heavy for her with a straight bar.
Teacher lifts will build the traps, strengthen the abs, increase glute and quad activation, improve the front squat, and even work the biceps. Drawbacks include restricted breathing, discomfort, and risk of a rounded lower back during the dead lift.
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. But that drawback is actually a benefit for athletes involved in sports where you need to perform in a state where you lack oxygen: CrossFit, MMA, wrestling, boxing, etc.
Note that with the Zerchersquat, it's easier to keep an arched or neutral lower back position. But in the dead lift, especially if you have short limbs, it's hard to have the lower back arched when you set up under the bar.
You should attempt to arch before you start the lift though, but it will likely stay a bit rounded or neutral. But the neutral or rounded back might not be a huge problem if you keep the weights conservative.
There's even a theory in training (Chinese weightlifters for example) that strengthening the rounded lower back position is actually a way to prevent injuries by building muscle strength in that more vulnerable position. Competitive athletes, everyday lifters, and anyone wanting size and strength should use them.
To build the quads: Teacher squats done on leg day, sets of 6-10 reps, going down under control, pausing briefly in the bottom position, going up smoothly focusing on keeping a stable torso angle. Focusing on keeping the lower back tight and not raising the hips too fast.
To improve metabolic conditioning for fighting sports: Do the Full Teacher Cycle (starting each rep from the floor) for high reps, 15-20 reps. Do not drop the bar on the floor after you lift it. To maximize your capacity to pull in and use oxygen: Teacher carries for 1 minute, 20 burpees or thrusters or kettle bell swings.
To look like a total badass in the gym: Full Teacher Cycle working up to a maximum single. Start the bar on pins at a height where you'd have approximately a 90-100 degree knee angle.
Go back down to the pins slowly on each rep. Sets of 6-8 reps, as heavy as you can to build maximum size. Seeing it as only a leg exercise would be an obtuse way of thinking to the people who've built stronger backs, traps, arms, and abs with them.
I figured it might be a good alternative to double front squats where I find it hard to load my legs as much. By the time you get enough weight to challenge your legs the strap would cinch your elbows together.
I have not heard of that, but if you want to try regular ZS and have limited space some companies to make shorter barbells: Rogue C-70 Bar These are ~16inches shorter than a regular barbell so if you're trying to make ZS work in a small space (apartment?) Alternatively you might just consider including more unilateral exercises with your existing kettle bells to emphasize more leg work.
I figured it might be a good alternative to double front squats where I find it hard to load my legs as much. If you wanted to get fancy, you could get the ends threaded and then be able to screw a flange on as a collar of sorts, but if you get 2" pipe, you could make do with spring clips that are used on Olympic bars.
Low weight, but hanging the bells on rubber bands adds a lot of stabilizing to your work. In it, the author, CK, had some great questions on Kettle bell Front Squats.
If we use a KB rack, the elbows are tucked in and down close to the sides, unlike a bodybuilding type crossed-arm BB FAQ or a clean grip BB FAQ. But yes, in terms of absolute load via weight on the bar on the body, back squat rules.
But, as I mentioned earlier, there are many variations of the back squat, and in terms of work, it can be argued that larger ranges of motion produce more work… For me, bells are about repeated ballistic movement with an offset mass, as in swings and snatches.
Side bends place no risky stress on shoulder joints. Windmills, when performed correctly are EXCELLENT shoulder exercises.
I can guarantee you this though, the more comfortable you are with this exercise, the better the rest of your double kettle bell work will be.