Hip mobility is of paramount importance for all levels of BJJ athletes — high-level competitors and weekly grinders alike. Other than head positioning, hip positioning is one of the most instrumental areas in controlling a roll. If you can control your hips — their movement, pressure, balance, etc. — you can always reign your body in.
Importance of Hips in Live Rolling
If an opponent grabs your arm, you can move your hips to a position that creates solid posture by simply bringing your hips closer to the arm. If they grab your head to break you down in say the front headlock, you can align your hips beneath your head so as to keep a powerful spine, capable of extending and exploding from the hips. This same control of your hip movement is also instrumental as a top player when pinning leg entries, trekking your way through the guard and eventually controlling your opponent’s upper body.
The Cossack Squat For Hip Strength, Stability, and Mobility
Those above scenarios were mentioned in order to understand the significance of your hips when moving on the mats. The main focus today is to examine the cossack squat and its role in developing hip strength, mobility, and stability for BJJ. It’s one of the most “bang for your buck” exercises, and I advocate performing it as often as possible. It has a host of positive effects on our physiology that I will look at below. It’s a broad-ranging movement because of its ability to build not only stability and strength, but to increase our mobility and flexibility.
Below I will cover some universal cues for most movements and will then look at specific cues for this exercise.
- Navel in tight
- Ribs locked down
- Shoulders down
- Wide horse stance
- Feet point out
- Chest up, elbows tight
- Drive knees out
- Rock weight to one leg in lateral direction
- Drive knee over foot
- As this occurs straighten other leg bringing toes to shin
- Helps mobility of hips, but this also strengthens and stabilizes!
- Positive effects on physiology
Benefits of The Cossack Squat for BJJ
Besides the general increases in hip stability, strength, and mobility, this exercise has some tremendous specific benefits to our system. For one, it builds active control of our limbs in space while keeping a strong center of gravity, something that is essential for BJJ. Cossack squats help increase ankle dorsiflexion by strengthening the tibialis anterior on the front of our shin. If you geeked out on John Danaher’s leg lock series, I’m sure you remember him mentioning how most straight leglocks attack this area.
This increase in dorsiflexion allows us to actively engage our shin muscles so we can bring our toes toward the shin. This movement of the lower leg is essential in being able to crease strong hooks that you can use as tools for kuzushi and sweeps from the bottom.
Having more dorsiflexion also helps our wrestling directly because dorsiflexion is the limiting factor in the depth of our squat depth. The deeper you can squat and get low, the more effective your wrestling will be. It’s physics and biomechanics! It also has positive upstream effects on your knee and hip health.
Some Final Thoughts
I like to do anywhere between 6 and 10 reps at a time. Remember, it’s about active control and constant awareness of your positioning. Weight is not the goal! Quality of movement is always our paramount theme.
Add this throughout your day and not just during your training time. You will see strong gains in your hips that aren’t limited to strength alone! Connect with more of my performance training work at https://www.mobillitytraining.com/ and let me know how this helped!