My Favorite Exercises – Cossack Squats

It has been a slow week up at MAP North, with the holiday weekend and a big tournament at the Schwan Super Rink allowing for only three days of training. Under the circumstances, yesterdays called for a day of fun. American Gladiators was set up, and a floor hockey tournament ensued. American Gladiators is a personal favorite of mine, and a MAP tradition, that pays homage to one of the best shows to ever air on television. Our version of American Gladiators is not quite as high tech as the show, but we still have ample firepower.

The floor hockey tourney was a great one, with the Ricke Bobby All-Stars taking the cup after an amazing playoff run that saw them come from the last place seed to the first. I suppose the obligatory “started from the bottom, now we’re here,” Drake quote is due at this point.


Notice the third player on the squad. Coincidence that we won? I think not. Actually, all credit should be given too Carter Wagner and Jacob Ricke, who were the real studs on the team.

Back to the post at hand – Cossack squats are quickly becoming my favorite exercise. They allow for much progression and can be used in a multitude of different ways. What’s a cossack squat? Watch below.

Here’s why I love them so much.

1) Mobility – A big part of my training is incorporating mobility exercises into my athlete’s workouts. I believe that proper mobility markedly decreases injury chance, as well as increasing an athlete’s strength. If the body can move correctly, it will therefore be stronger, and less susceptible to injury. The cossack squat is great for producing hip mobility, as it forces the body into a position that really opens the hips, especially through the groin and the medial hamstrings.

2) Progression – The cossack squat can be progressed through a large amount of variation, which makes it an extremely valuable exercise. The bodyweight version can be used to increase mobility, and as a finishing set after a hard leg day. I use the body weight version as a warm-up exercise to increase the mobility of the hips to allow for proper squatting later on. If depth is the focus, a band can be used that pulls the athlete forward, allowing for increased depth and a true hips to ankle squat. Weight can be added in a goblet hold, or a front rack hold, to increase the intensity of the exercise. With weight held out in front of the body, the exercise is fantastic as a hypertrophy set. A goblet hold allows for heavy weight to be used, making the exercise a good single leg strength training exercise. To heighten the stress on the core (even though the exercise is already a good core stressor), a single arm overhead hold can be used, typically in a kettlebell or dumbbell form.

3) Functionality – Yes, functionality, the completely overused buzzword. However, in this case it makes real sense to call the cossack squat functional. The squat is a single leg squat at heart, with a huge lateral component. Both single leg strength, and lateral pushing strength and important in hockey. The depth of the squat challenges the strength of the hamstrings and glutes, and forces them to activate at extreme joint angles, which is important for hockey players as they often are quad dominant and have weak hamstrings. The groins are emphasized during the squat, and strengthening and lengthening them is important as they are often a problem area for hockey players Lastly, the anti-rotation and anti-flexion core component of the the squat are perfect for producing the core strength required in hockey.

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