When most people train, even when they alternate muscle groups and modalities, they’re still stuck in one plane. Our movements take place in three different planes: sagittal, frontal, and transverse—but the bulk of weight room exercises are in the sagittal plane, moving straight up-and-down or front-to-back. If you want to work to your full training potential, you won’t ignore the benefits you can get from the other types of movement, like the side-to-side of the frontal plane and rotation of the transverse plane.
Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. makes sure that his leg training is multi-planar, which he demonstrates in this smart leg day finisher. “The clock Cossack series does two things I absolutely love,” he says. “First off, it’s completely taking you out of the sagittal plane. Normally, we only move forwards with our leg training, as we do in lunges, and squats, and deadlifts, but we forget that our legs are meant to help us change directions, and that our hips are critical in helping us create rotation. Learning to move laterally and rotationally and also create and manage energy in those planes is key to athleticism in our leg training. It’s also more beneficial than we realize in terms of stimulating core and glute strength and growth.”
That glute work comes in different forms in each of the three sections of the series. “In each instance, your entire core and both your glutes have to work to help you control all the force you generate pushing out of the Cossack,” says Samuel. “That control is key to helping you find a good standing position coming out of each rep.”
To take on the clock cossack series, you’ll need plenty of room to work and a set of kettlebells. If you need a pair to try the workout at home, check out this option from CAP Barbell.
Men’s Health/Eric Rosati
- Start holding a pair of kettlebells in the rack position, gripping the handles with the weight rested on your forearms.
- Pivot on your foot to step back and perform a rotational cossack squat directly behind you, then return to the starting position.
- Perform a second cossack rotational cossack squat with the same leg, this time to a 45-degree angle, the return to the starting position.
- Follow with a standard lateral cossack squat with the same leg.
- Repeat the series on the opposite leg.
The varied movements makes the series tough on more than your legs. “The constant changes in how your body has to create and manage both transverse and frontal plane force, coupled with the front rack hold you’re force a ton of core control,” says Samuel. “Your abs never get to turn off in this drill.”
Just make sure to take your time on every rep, since balance will definitely be a challenge when you’re first stepping outside of the dominant plane. Add the clock Cossack series to your leg day with 3 sets of clusters for each leg.
For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.
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