Cossack squats

Move of the week: cossack squats improves hip and ankle mobility

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Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: cossack squats. 

Building a functional body means improving mobility, strength and flexibility. That’s particularly important in your lower body – after all, your legs carry you around all day. And if there’s one that can do it all, it’s the cossack squat. 

Whether you want to use it in a warm-up or load it up with weights as part of your strength training routine, this move should be part of your lower body workout. Add it in and thank us later.

What is a cossack squat?

The cossack squat involves lowering your hips to the floor as in a squat but instead of going straight up and down, you lean your weight over to one side. 

The exercise is great because:

It improves mobility: by pushing your hips and ankles to their end range.

It stretches the inner thigh: an often neglected muscle group that needs to be loosened. 

It strengthens your glutes: particularly the glute med on the outside of your hip. 

It’s unilateral: working one side at a time challenges your stability and core while fixing imbalances.  

What muscles do cossack squats work?

A cossack squat works most of your lower body, but particularly targets:

  • Glutes (including glute med) 
  • Hip abductors (inner thigh) 
  • Hip adductors (outer thigh) 
  • Rectus abdominals (deep ab muscles) 
  • Hamstrings 
  • Quads 
  • Calves 

How to do a cossack squat

  1. Stand tall with your feet placed in a sumo position – wider than your hips with toes turned out. 
  2. Brace your core and bend your right knee to lower your hips to the floor. Your left leg should stay straight. 
  3. As you get lower, you may want to take your left toes off the floor. If you’re struggling with depth, lift your right heel, but try to work on your ankle mobility to get as low as possible. 
  4. Push through your right foot to come up to standing. 
  5. Repeat on the other side.  

Images: Stylist

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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