How to do Cossack Squats | Benefits, Techniques and Variations

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How to do Cossack Squats | Benefits, Techniques and Variations

cossack squatsCossack squats are advanced version of normal squats which integrate mobility and strength in one exercise. The following article contains in depth information for a beginner regarding how to do a cossack squats? , what are the benefits of cossack squats? , which muscle groups are targeted?, are there any variation and alternatives?

Why You Should Do A Cossack Squats?

If you can pull off hip exercises and thinking about trying something challenging then Cossack squats is your answer. It’s modification of normal squats with emphasis on hips , knees and ankle mobility .The target muscles of this exercise are quads, hamstrings, glutes, adductors while also giving additional benefit of working on abdominal muscles and lower back.So if you have goal for advancing your leg workout then this is your one stop choice.
Cossack squats is not a beginner exercise but it can add an adventure to your regular routine.

How to do a Cossack Squats and how you can add it in your routine?

So first,
  • Take wide stance enough for you to balance but wider than normal and keep your toes pointing outwards.
  • Breath in and move your weight to any one leg, let’s take left one so bend your left knee and keep your torso straight and upright as much as you can.
  • Your right leg will remain extended and feeling the stretch on that leg keeping your right foot toe facing upright.
  • Your left heel on which you are focusing weight should be on ground.
  • Hold the position for few seconds and then release and come back to starting position.
  • Repeat the above steps for opposite leg here for the right one.
You can add cossack squats on your leg day exercises as addition to weighted squats and leg press .You can also use this exercise as a stretching exercise on your non workout days.

Cossack Squats Benefits

Let’s now discuss the main reasons to do cossack squats and why you should have prior experience of performing squats and lunges to reap the benefits of cossack squats

Below are six benefits of Cossack Squats.

  1. It will build strength and hypertrophy in lower body muscles.
  2. It can be used as warm up for other squat variations.
  3. It can improve range of motion and can build greater level of motion.
  4. It can add a variation to your daily routine.
  5. Improve joints and connective tissue of lower body.
  6. Helps to prevent injury due to increased mobility.

Types Of Cossack Squats

1. Assisted Cossack Squats

This modification is for those who cannot perform exercise and are quite inexperienced in squat body movement.
You can use a TRX strap as an assist to get your reps done. Set the straps to medium length hold it comfortably with your both hands and now perform the steps and complete the exercise.

The TRX strap will help you in balancing as you go down and come up.

2. Weighted cossack squats

how-to-do-weighted-cossack-squatsIf you find normal version easy then you can add challenge by using a Kettlebell or dumbbell as weight to maximize the effort.


Hold the weight with both of your hands in front of you near your chest while completing the motion of cossack squats.


This additional weight in front will act as counter weight to improve your overall balance in exercise.

3. One arm overhead cossack squats

In this modification you can use a dumbbell in your opposite hand with respect to the leg on which you are focusing weight in that rep.
All you have to do is move your dumbbell over your head as you go down and bring your hand to normal position as you come up.
Repeat the procedure by keeping opposite hand and legs.

Alternatives to Cossack Squats

Below are three alternatives to cossack squats if you are person who loves novelty and fun

1. Stretching

Now this is obvious as there’s a stretching part in cossack squats . You can do any stretch focusing on hip, groin and hamstrings . Performing a isometric static hold before or after exercise session can improve your calisthenics skills and increase your mobility and performance

2. 90/90 hip mobility

The 90/90 hip mobility can improve your mobility on hip joint and increase overall knee  mobility and squat performance. You increase your internal and external hip movement through 90/90 mobility or cossack squats.

3. Side lunge

The side lunge helps in improving same sets of muscles as cossack squats as it has similar plane of motion.
It can be a nice alternative to someone with less mobility and performance

Side Lunge v/s Cossack squats (How are both different)

Actually they both are quite similar if you are newbie, but they have a slight difference
Both side lunge and cossack squats focus on same sets of muscles
In Cossack squats the starting position is wider than your shoulder and your feet don’t move while you perform the exercise
In side lunge you start with your feet together and then step aside your feet laterally to bend your body In cossack squats you go as deep as you can but in side lunge you keep your thigh in parallel position to the ground.

Cossack Squats: Target muscles (Muscles used in Cossack squats) are:

  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Adductor Magnus ( inner thigh)
  • Obliques ( side abs)
  • Calves

What’s different than Normal squat is that cossack squats works more on glute medius, quadriceps and obliques.

1. Quadriceps

what are quadricepsThe quadriceps is made of four different muscles henceforth the name quads . The cossack squats movement activates quads when you move down. The knee has to push forward in order to complete the exercise and when you come back to normal position the quads have to work harder to finish the rep.

2. Glute medius

Glute is made up of three different muscle and glute medius is on upper lateral part. Cossack works greatly on this muscle . The function of this muscle is to provide external rotation and lateral movement of leg due to constant reps and lateral motion of exercise this muscle gets strengthened.

3. Obliques

what are obliques musclesWhen you go down you need to avoid your body getting twisted so that’s when the obliques get activated in order to maintain your upper body position. This results in activation of obliques throughout the range of motion.

Challenges and reps for Cossack Squat

Below are two different types of programs focusing mobility and hypertrophy . Cossack squats is not a beginner level exercise and it is used for improving mobility with strength.

Mobility sets and reps

For increasing mobility and improving movement you can train yourself with 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps . Keep your reps slow and control to form muscle memory of the motion.
If you’ve achieved the form then you can add weights and can also pause at bottom to increase challenge.

Hypertrophy sets and reps

For increasing the muscular growth you can perform 3_4 sets of 5_10 controlled reps.
Don’t perform the reps with weights that you cannot control and maintain form of exercise with each rep.

Final thoughts

Cossack squats tests your lower body mobility while also combining strength training. It’s great variation to add some spice to your regular workout . By adding it you can enjoy new range of motion . It’s a single leg movement so you need some prior experience in normal squats and lunges to add this exercise to your routine.

All Images by : www.freepik.com

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