Pistol Squat Tutorial – 3 Progressions For Your First Rep

Pistol Squat is a move of strength and balance.  It trains your leg, hips and core.  Let’s take a look for the move.  One leg extended off the ground.  Another leg do the work of squatting.  At the bottom of the exercise, your hamstring and calves are touching each other, then you stand up.  This move relies on your strength of One side of your leg and your core, including your abs and limbs for balance.



Let’s take a look for the common mistakes.  Some are: the knee are bending inward/outward.  This is not correct and difficult to exert force.  Besides, from the side view, if your knee is way beyond your toe, then it would be hard for you to exert force, and also cause much pressure on your knee.  On the other hand, if your upper body lean backward, it is not a good position for you to strike the balance to stand up as well.  Let’s take one more look on the proper execution again.


Pistol Squat is not an easy exercise.  Most people require practice for them to reach the first rep.  Now, let’s introduce you some of the progressions.




First and foremost, you must be able to do a Closed-Legs Squat with Full Range of Motion.  At the bottom, your leg and calve should be touching each other.  When you can fulfil this requirement, you can move on to the training progressions.


1. Bulgarian Split Squat

First Progression: Bulgarian Split Squat.  This focuses on one side of the leg, requires balance and strength.  To do this exercise, a stuff with appropriate height is needed for support.  About knee-height stuff for your back leg to land on.  Using the back side of the foot to step on the stuff.  This allow you to focus on the front leg.  The range of motion for this move: Try to reach your bottom, around 90° between you leg and foot.  When you can do 12 reps or move, you can move on the next progression.


2. Assisted Pistol Squat

The second progression: Assisted Pistol Squat.  Use two hands to hold on something solid, then do a pistol squat.  Since with the helps of both hands, when your legs are not strong enough, you can assist with your hands.  When you have improved, the less the helps needed.  The hands help you with the strength and balance.  When you can handle this move with 10-12 reps, you can try to use only One hand to assist.


When you just use one hand, You will realise the difficulty improved drastically.  Since the help decrease, the strength and balance from your lower body and core will increase drastically.  When you can do this 6-10 reps, You can try to minimise the force exerted from the hand, until it is loose, but you still can do the Pistol Squat, then you are good to go to the next progression.


3. Elevated Pistol Squat

The next progression:  Elevated Pistol Squat.  Elevate yourself by standing at the top of the staircase, bench etc.  You can minimise the burden of the extended leg by lowering it down slightly.  The move is almost completed as normal one, so it is hard.  You may struggle to do 1-2 reps at first.  But once you practice more, learn how to exert the force and strike the balance, you will be able to do a complete Pistol Squat.  Then you can do it at the flat ground.  When you can do 5-10 reps/set.  Then it is a leg exercise that you can do regularly in your leg routine.  Alright, that’s it for the today.

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