Archer Squats: How To, Alternatives,…

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You don’t always have to stick to classic leg exercises to see results. Discover how to do archer squats and what results they offer.

Archer squats, also known as Cossack squats, are a squat variation where you start with your feet wide apart and squat sideways.

You may have to tilt your upper body and point your arms forward to balance yourself during the exercise.

Compared to regular squats, archer squats focus more on your inner thigh muscles, mobility in hips, knees, and ankles, and flexibility.

If you don’t have any of these goals, you likely want to go for other compound leg exercises that don’t involve as much of a balance aspect.

How to do an archer squat

Take the following steps to do an archer squat:

  1. Stand upright with your feet wide apart and your legs stretched.
  2. Slowly fold one knee and lower your hips as far as comfortable. Keep your other leg stretched and if needed, tilt your upper body and point your arms forward for balance. Try to keep your spine more or less straight.
  3. Return to starting position in a controlled motion by stretching your leg again.
  4. Complete a set of archer squats on one side and repeat the same number of repetitions on the other side.
How to do an archer squat

How far you will be able to go down during archer squats will depend on details like your flexibility, mobility, and knee health.

Something else to note is that you generally want to keep your main support foot flat on the ground. Even if you feel the urge to raise the heel.

Archer squats muscles worked

Some of the main muscles archer squats work include your quadriceps (front thighs), inner thighs, outer thighs, glutes (butt), and hamstrings (back thighs).

Your calves and erector spinae (lower back) will have to work to nice extents too.

Compared to regular bodyweight squats, archer squats will focus more on your inner thigh muscles and to some extent your outer thighs too.

An important thing to keep in mind is that just working your muscles with a few archer squats is often not enough to see results.

More specifically, you need to work these with enough repetitions and weight for whatever you are trying to achieve.

For certain goals like muscle growth and strength increases, this could be hard to do because of the balance aspect of archer squats.

With a weighted vest or equipment options like dumbbells, kettlebells, and potentially even a barbell, you could theoretically make something work.

However, even with these, archer squats are generally not the most effective exercise option for muscle-related results.

Benefits of archer squats

While archer squats are less optimal for achieving goals, they also offer extra advantages over some of the regular squat benefits. Some examples are:

  1. More inner and outer thigh focus: Working your hip adductors and abductors more can be helpful in some situations.
  2. Flexibility and mobility: Archer squats can help you move your flexibility and mobility limits. In turn, these fitness components offer a variety of secondary benefits.
  3. Coordination and balance: Similar to the previous benefit, challenging your balance and coordination with archer squats can help improve your skills in these areas.
  4. More resistance without equipment: Because they put all of your weight on one leg, archer squats offer more resistance without equipment. This can help stronger individuals get more results.

In combination with the already solid benefits of regular squats, these effects could convince you to do archer squats more often.

Archer squat alternatives

From everything above, you may conclude that archer squats are not perfect for your training goals and/or preferences.

In that case, you can consider some of these archer squat alternatives:

  • Regular squats
  • Weighted hip adductions
  • Weighted hip abductions
  • Balance board exercises
  • Stretching
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Step-ups

What archer squat alternatives you want to do depends on details like what you are trying to achieve, what you like doing, and what fitness equipment you have.

Are archer squats a good exercise?

Archer squats can be a good exercise for strong individuals who want a challenging way to improve flexibility and mobility.

On the other hand, people who only want to improve muscle size, strength, power, and/or endurance likely want to turn to archer squat alternatives.

The balance and mobility challenges involved will likely interfere with getting optimal results in these other areas.

Even if you want to work your inner thigh muscles more, you likely want to turn to exercises that are different from archer squats or at least implement more effective options too.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.