Cossack Squats

This article was provided by Training-Conditioning

Did you know there is a type of squat that can better prepare your athletes for competition? It’s called the Cossack squat, and it can help increase athletes’ strength and flexibility through a full range of motion.

In a blog for DeFranco’s Training, Joe DeFranco, CSCS, NASM-CPT, explains why going beyond the “regular” squat is important for athletes. He writes that sports are played in three dimensions—think about the volleyball player who lunges to the left for a dig or the baseball player who stretches off the plate to snag an out. While still useful, DeFranco points out that traditional squats don’t completely prepare athletes for these types of motions, increasing their chances of injury, especially groin pulls.

The Cossack squat adds this third dimension. In a blog for TrainHeroic, Mike Dewar, CSCS, NSCAS, USAWL2, explains that this exercise enhances hip, knee, and ankle mobility while also strengthening the glutes. This will not only help athletes move properly during competition, but will also allow for better movement in other squatting exercises as well.

“Unlike the side lunge, this squat variation really forces an athlete to work the hip throughout the entirety of the end range, which is important for runners, wrestlers, and other full range of motion athletes,” writes Dewar.

But the benefits of the Cossack squat extend even further. According to a blog by Strength and Flexibility Coach Angie Fliehser, this squat not only stretches the hamstrings and hips, but it also helps to strengthen the core and improve balance—all of which are important to help athletes play their best.

As with any exercise, it is important that your athletes learn the correct technique in order to decrease the chances of injury and to gain every benefit. Here are the steps to correctly carrying out the Cossack squat, laid out by Fliehser:

  1. Begin with a wide stance.
  2. Keep the leg you are squatting over aligned from hip to knee and down to the foot.
  3. Keep the foot on this side flat on the ground.
  4. Point your other toe upward with the heel down, rotate at the hip so your knee is pointing straight up.
  5. Sit down into your hips, keeping your back flat.
  6. Push up to standing through the planted foot, distributing the weight evenly.

When implementing the Cossack squat, Dewar suggests starting with 10 sets per leg. To further increase strength and hypertrophy, he also recommends adding weight for 3-5 reps, such as a kettlebell. Other variations include using straps for assistance or using a barbell to add weight. However, this exercise can also be done with just bodyweight, which according to Dewar, makes it perfect for warm-ups or even as an active recovery movement.

To see the Cossack squat in motion, check out this video from Onnit Academy.

The YouTube video has sound, so please make sure that your volume is turned up and that you have access to the site. Note some schools block access to YouTube.

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