What is a Cossack squat?

A variation of the squats, Cossack squats is an advanced bodyweight training exercise. While in the standard version of a squat, the load is placed equally between both the legs, this exercise is done using a single leg while the other leg is kept straight out. 

Though the Cossack squats may look like a simple exercise, it poses quite a challenge and needs you to have a minimum level of coordination and balance. This is because, in a Cossack squats exercise, your knees and hips travel through a larger joint angle.

It is quite different from other squat variations such as split squats, pistol squats, or lunges 

The muscles worked in the Cossack workout include:

  • Adductor Magnus
  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Obliques
  • Calves

How are Cossack squats done?

A Cossack squat is a deep squat exercise that puts your muscles under significant stretch. This is why it is essential to not just know how to do this exercise, but also to be mindful of its correct form. 

Here is a step-by-step explanation of the exercise for you to perfect its technique:

  1. Stand tall with your feet in a wide stance. You can keep your toes pointed forward or a little outwards. Your torso should be fully upright and hands away from the body for the entire movement.
  1. To begin the squatting movement, shift your weight on one foot and lunge on its side keeping your knee over the toe.
  1. Straighten out the other leg by externally rotating it. This means that your toes should come off the ground while the heel stays fixed on the ground.
  1. Reach as much depth as you can and hold the pose for a few seconds. 
  1. Now press into the ground using your bent leg and bring yourself up in the starting position.
  1. Repeat the exercise on the other side.

Sets and reps: Since Cossack squats beginners exercise may seem tough, you can start by doing 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps. 

Which are some variations of Cossack squats?

Here are some variations of the Cossack squats for you to try once you have mastered the traditional version:

  1. Dumbbell Cossack squat: Also known as DB Cossack squat, this is a Cossack squat with weights. To do this exercise, you need to hold a single dumbbell in the front of your chest and perform the other movements similar to the traditional Cossack squats. DB Cossack squats are a great way to tone your overall body and improve your lower body strength. 
  1. Kettlebell Cossack squat: The kettlebell Cossack squats, as the name suggests, are done by holding a single kettlebell in front of your chest. This is a variation of Cossack squats with weights and helps you build lean body muscle. 
  1. Alternating Cossack squat: In the alternating Cossack squats, you need to alternate one rep with the other. This is unlike a variation where you complete all the reps on one side before moving to the other. This variation can also be done as a weighted Cossack squat.

How do Cossack squats benefit you?

A Cossack’s workout is much more than just a bodyweight exercise. Doing this exercise regularly has surprising benefits for your strength, fitness, and health. 

Here is a roundup of some of the most important benefits of this exercise:

  • This is an excellent exercise to develop flexibility and range of motion by working your hamstrings and adductors. This helps in preventing injuries such as groin or hamstring pulls.¬†
  • One of the best Cossack squats benefits is that it promotes healthy and strong joints and bones. This is achieved by giving your leg a significant stretch especially at the ankle, knee, and hips. Regularly doing this exercise is a good way to enhance your bone density. This is essential to prevent injuries such as fractures.¬†
  • DB Cossack squats is a great way to strengthen the lower back. This is beneficial for those people who sit for long hours in front of the screen or those who drive for extended periods. This exercise reduces pain, stiffness, and tension in the lower back.
  • Since dumbbell Cossack squats and other variations of this exercise require you to move your muscles from side to side, it is a good way to target muscles from a different angle.
  • Weighted Cossack squats, by adding more resistance and tension, help burn more calories. This makes it a superb workout for weight loss, which not just gives you a toned body but also prevents obesity-related health problems.¬†
  • One of the most important Cossack squats benefits is that it doesn‚Äôt require any investment in equipment or gym memberships. This exercise can be done practically anywhere.¬†
  • An advantage of this exercise is that with its progressive variations such as alternating Cossack squats and DB Cossack squats, anyone with any level of fitness can do this exercise.¬†

How to do Cossack squats safely?

Since this is a challenging exercise, you need to perfect the form and technique of the Cossack squats. This is essential to prevent injuries and reap the benefits of this exercise. 

Here is how you can master this exercise:

  • Incorporate a warm-up and cool-down session before and after doing the Cossack squats. This helps give your muscles a stretch and prevents strain and injuries.
  • Try to take as wide a lunge as you can. Not stretching yourself enough during the lunging movement will not do much for your balance and strength.
  • Don‚Äôt lean anytime during the Cossack squats exercise. This may lead to slouching or bad posture.
  • If you have a history of pains or injuries, don‚Äôt start doing this exercise without speaking to your doctor.
  • Modify the Cossack squats depending on your general state of health and age.
  • For doing Cossack squats beginners must learn the technique from an experienced trainer to avoid incorrect form and posture.


Cossack squats are not just super effective but are also a necessary natural progression from the traditional squats. This exercise is extremely modifiable and not just helps you lead a more functional and active life, but also improves your performance in sports and workouts. 


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December 31, 2021

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