The Cossack Squat: Reclaiming Your Baseline Balance

The Cossack Squat: Reclaiming Your Baseline Balance

Do you know the best part of doing the Cossack squat? This is an uncomplicated exercise for building single-leg strength and coordination. It leads to the proper stability of the hips that have been affected due to the unavoidably creeps due to many years of training heavily with two-sided movements like deadlifts and squats.

Keep in mind that we are not balanced like most machines. Here one side of our body will be having more prominent organs present in various places compared to the other side. Of course, we are having a dominant side and that will always be a bit stronger and more coordinated compared to the other side.

This means that when one begins to train heavily using the bilateral or two-legged movements just like deadlifts and squats, it will make sense only when one develops a bias for pushing harder, shifting towards, or in the favour of our dominant side.

Well, this is a part of the deal when one is a human being. There are no measures of the one-sided focused related exercising or drills that can make us perfectly balanced. The major aspect is to always concentrate on the basic foundations which can be beyond the exercise and movement.

When You Feel the Imbalance Is A Lot?

At times, the gap available among the sides and segments would be a bit too large. When this occurs, it is better to exercise or do smart exercises. You must go with the ones that can train all the variables for moving the meter right back to the baseline, and that too at reasonable asymmetry.

The Cossack squat requires one to move in positions that are quite difficult in doing. However, the movement would be quite simple and straightforward. The best part is that it can be done right anywhere using one’s body weight and getting loaded in various ways using whatever kind of weights that are available to you.

What Is Cossack Squat?

Unlike the traditional squat that has the barbell right on your back, the Cossack squat is done by using the bodyweight alone or by using more of the advanced lifters. This is done by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell right in front of the body.

This is like holding a weight while one is doing Goblet Squat. Of course, the load in the traditional squat needs to be equally placed among the two legs, the Cossack squat is just a single leg variation, and this works on the right and left side independently.

Being quite different from other major single-leg variations, they are like the split squat. Here the legs can either move backward or forward but in the Cossack squat, one must move their legs laterally or sideways right from the centre of the body.

In order, for the Cossack squat to be the best effective one, the range of motion should be greater compared to what is seen in other various single-leg variations. This is particularly important for the knees and hip, as they must travel through a better joint angle.

Particularly, the Cossack squat is thought of as an advanced squat variation needed –

  • A higher amount of hip, ankle, and knee mobility
  • A high amount of flexibility in the inner hamstrings and thigh
  • The stronger stabilizer of muscle groups for maintaining balance
  • The greater level of body awareness and better coordination

Of course, the Cossack squat should not be the first exercise that you must learn at the gym, still, it is a great progression compared to the traditional kind of squat and lunge.

Cossack Squat – What Muscles Works

The muscles used in the Cossack squat are –

  • Glutes
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Obliques (which is the side abs)
  • Adductor Magnus (the Inner Thigh)
  • Calves

Basically, the Cossack squat uses the same kind of musculature that is commonly seen in most squats. Certain muscles get activated right in the Cossack squat, compared to the traditional squat like quadriceps, glute Medius, and obliques.

Why Does One Need to Do Cossack Squat?

Now any kind of single-leg exercise would improve your stability and physical awareness. However, there is something valuable about the Cossack squat. It easily supports your trail leg.

Here this support will easily allow you to focus on controlling your movement throughout the whole range of motion that is available. This is done by building mobility and strength right at the end of your range.

Most importantly, as you are dropping down, here you are moving to the limit of your hip as well as the range of motion of your ankle. Many of us always emphasize the necessity of linear movements while moving straight up and down. There is nothing wrong with doing a huge squat and deadlight.

However, you must make sure that you are moving in different directions and the pattern of movements must be correct at least some of the time.

Basically, the Cossack squat is an exercise that you can just add right at the end of your workouts. This will help you to move on to various planes. It would be great to move through these various patterns. This will avoid pattern overload (such things lead to injuries to your soft tissues that occur when you are moving in a single pattern or limiting the free range of motions that are too long).

At times, moving in various positions will help in keeping the connective tissues of your body healthy. The longer you are training, the more of this exercise you would need to do. Frankly, the older we get, the more we would have to move in all kinds of possible ways. Also, the more we are sitting in our work, the more we must move in all kinds of patterns as much as possible.

Using All Kinds of Pattern in Movement

  • Here place your feet right at one to the two-feet length just outside of your shoulder-width apart. You might have to make sure that your feet are wider. Just play around with the stance for figuring out what you are comfortable and strong with.
  • Next ground the foot right on the side where you are going to squat first. Make sure that you are going to push your big toe firmly right into the ground. Then you must create pressure right against the ground just outside the foot and this is directly below the outer edge of the ankle.
  • Also, try to turn your toes outright at the first. However, try to work towards keeping them in a pointed straight. This will challenge your mobility and even the stability will be a new level.
  • You can use other foot right on the opposite side for helping you and then push yourself into the squat position.
  • Lower yourself right into the squat without letting any part of your feet or heels lose contact with the floor. Certain variations will allow your toes to be on your trail leg for lifting and rotating up. However, keeping them down would be better for challenging the adductors’ mobility.
  • Next push off the foot that you have squatted towards to push your hips up and back right to the middle.
  • Next without pausing, try to lower yourself to the other side. Make sure you are keeping the same point of contact and ideas right in your mind.

Benefits of Cossack Squat

1) Strength Gains

Now whenever our muscles are stressed and become small, the individual fibres would tear and then try to rebuild themselves for getting stronger than before. Here the Cossack squat will put a huge amount of stress on your glutes, quadriceps, and hips.

Keep in mind that these muscles are necessary for getting or doing explosive movements like jumping, running, and even doing other kinds of exercises like deadlift or squat. Increasing and maintaining lower body strength is important for doing all kinds of daily activities.

Here whether you are a weightlifting record-holder or an individual that is brand new to fitness, it is necessary to have a robust lower body. This will provide a stable base that you can depend on for accomplishing your health goals.

2) Improving Your Range of Mobility

For gaining the required strength, it might be easy for ignoring mobility and flexibility. Sometimes we neglect for improving our range of mobility. Here we end up limiting our strength potential.

Now the Cossack squat will force us to squat deeper compared to all other squat variations. This ends up opening the hip joints. Also, it improves lower-body flexibility. When we try to lengthen our muscles by doing various stretching, we would end up activating a huge amount of muscle fibres, especially while exercising. This means that we would be able to lift more weight, be able to jump higher, and even run further.

3) Improving Muscle Imbalances

Here you might be able to train both your legs in an equal way using the Cossack squat. Also, you can use this exercise for training one leg at a time. Frankly, if one of your legs is stronger compared to others, then this exercise can be used for an evening the muscle imbalance.

Cossack Squat Mistakes People Commonly Make

Learning Too Far and Forward

While doing the Cossack squat, you must make sure that you are keeping or placing your weight back. Here you must have the feeling that you are sitting back right into the glutes for maintaining a proper form and even balance while exercising.

Rounding the Back

Make sure to keep your back in a straight manner when you are exercising. When you are rounding your back while doing the Cossack squat will put unnecessary stress right on your spine. Furthermore, it will round up your back leading too far and forward.

Making A Quick Move

The Cossack squat is not something that is meant to be done as an explosive motion. If you are moving too quickly, it will compromise your form and lead to huge risk and injury. Rather, it is better to do this exercise in a slower and controlled manner.

What Is Weighted Cossack Squat?

For adding weight to this exercise, you would have to hold the weight out right in front of you. This is done to counterbalance and keeping you upright or holding yourself right close to your body.

You can change it up by holding weight right behind your head. You can even hold a weight right behind your head for testing your dexterity for being upright. Now if you want to change it up, then you must try holding your weight behind your head.

By holding a weight behind right behind your head will test your dexterity for staying upright. You might have to train the back strength of your upper back and mobility. Also, your trunk will work even harder for keeping your posture and stabilizing you. So, it is a win, win, and win.

Watch Your Limit

Here the point of the exercise is not to just bend and fold yourself into the position that you cannot reach. You must find the edge of your stability and mobility right in this motion. Then you must challenge it slowly, and that too without losing the posture and rigidity, and even compensating it in a certain way.

Constantly practicing it will help you to reach the bottom position. However, your knees, ankles, etc will not accompany you if you are putting a huge amount of force.

Competing Your Cossack Squat Is Easy

Frankly, the Cossack squat might seem to be a tough exercise. It is not like that always. Initially, you might find it difficult to do, but as you practice, you would gain the experience and strength to continuously endure.

Hence, if you are planning to do the Cossack Squat, start it right away. This exercise will really help in improving your body movements.


Saravavan Nadarajan (Vanan)

Vanan, fitness expert and leader at EzFit Singapore, specializes in holistic training—home-based, boot camps, and corporate fitness—with over a decade of industry experience.

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