Cossack Squat Benefits and main muscles trained
Exercise benefits include:
- Single leg strength in the end range of motion
- Improved movement patterns and co-ordination
- Improved groin mobility and adductor flexibility
The Cossack squat is a little known movement that’s great for keeping the hips, knees and ankles healthy. This exercise is incredibly useful when added to your home workouts or other morning rituals.
You can perform Cossacks as an active strengthening exercise while also working on your lower body mobility.
Awh, that glorious adductor stretch when you are deep in the hole…
The goblet Cossack squat is also one of my favorite variations to include for field sports. If you want to dramatically improve your lateral movement patterns, train your legs, and improve your mobility?
You are in the right place!
The Primary and Secondary Muscles
This exercise has all the strength benefits of a a regular single leg squat with an added mobility bonus!
Work your quads, while stretching your adductors and hamstrings. Recruit the assistance of various stability muscles as you work through your end range of motion.
- Hip Flexors
- Back Erectors
Goblet Cossack Squat: The best way to progress
The beauty of the Cossack squat is that it can be performed anywhere… when you develop enough mobility and co-ordination to do it correctly that is.
Before you can really take advantage of this exercises strength benefits you will need to slowly mold your own mobility to allow you to perform this exercise safely.
Make sure to start into this exercise slowly, without weight as you practice your co-ordination.
I would suggest holding onto an extra support as you go into your first rep…
This exercise will get harder the lower you go as your body will simple not be used to working in that range.
That additional support can also help you get started out of the bottom of rep one…
If you are struggling to keep your entire working foot planted on the floor you might have tight ankles. That is, lacking sufficient dorsiflexion for this particular exercise.
If you do not have enough range I would suggest you use some sort of wedge under your heel to mimic an improved ankle mobility.
When using the heel wedge,If you notice an improvement in depth, comfort, you need to start working on your ankle mobility.
I suggest you check out all our guides and search for “ankle mobility” drills.
In the meantime you can continue to use the heel wedge for this exercise so you can still take advantage of its many other benefits!
When you have enough mobility, co-ordination and strength to perform 10 quality reps with just your body weight you have graduated onto the Goblet Cossack Squat.
To do this all you need is an external load such as a kettlebell or dumbbell.
Hold it close to your chest as you would performing a regular goblet squat.
This Cossack Squat gif demo explained in 5 Simple steps
Step 1: The Set Up
Make sure you have plenty of space, and start without any added weight, later on you can add a barbell to your shoulders or hold dumbbells/kettlebell to your chest.
Make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear so that you don’t slip during the set.
Step 2: Foot Positioning
Start with your feet at shoulder width apart. Once you have a visual idea of that distance, step out to the side so that the distance is twice that of your shoulder width.
Point your toes out at a 45 degree angle, and ensure that your legs and feet are symmetrical to each other.
When you do this without any added weight, straighten your arms out in front and imagine you are holding two glasses of water filled to the brim that you are trying to not spill… It might help to pretend it’s wine. Whatever floats your boat!
This will encourage good posture and to keep your chest up “tall”.
Step 3: Completing the Set
Before we move, brace your core, engage your glutes, and take a breath.
Start the movement on your dominant side. The opposite leg should be straightened out as you sit on the foot of your strong side.
Break at your knees and hips, sit as deep as you comfortably can as you begin to feel a feel a stretch on your inner thigh.
You should keep your full foot on the floor while driving your knee as far over your toes as possible. The non working side should also have the full foot on the floor throughout the rep.
Only go as deep as you feel safe. You can build up this level of confidence over time. Your torso angle should not change much and your chest should stay high.
PRO TIP: A cue I find very helpful when completing this exercise is to focus on moving as far as possible to the side you are working, and then lower yourself onto the foot.
Once you are confident in the movement you can complete the set and take a rest rest. Try to stay loose and mobile by walking around or completing dynamic mobility drills between sets.
If you want to start using this awesome exercise but are unsure of how to practically add it into a workout, why not get one of our free programs.
We often use the Cossack as both a mobility drill and a single leg strengthening exercise.
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