Pistol Squat

Moving from two legs to one leg not only requires greater strength but also presents a considerable stability challenge. Pay attention to controlling the movement and avoiding momentum. In particular keep the knee pointing in the same direction as the foot during the progression exercises and the full pistol squat.

  1. Stand on one foot with your weight on your heel.
  2. Keep the non-working leg straight and contract your glutes.
  3. Raise your arms in front to chest level.
  4. Breathe in only enough to pressurise your core.
  5. Push your hamstrings back and allow your torso to lean forwards to counterbalance as you lower into a full squat on one leg. The non-working leg should be straight and not in contact with the ground.
  6. Pause at the bottom to avoid any momentum.
  7. Return to standing, breathing out with a hissing sound.

N.B. Pistols should be performed barefoot or in flat shoes.

If you are unable to perform a pistol squat as described, don’t worry! It’s a big jump in difficulty from a standard squat to a pistol squat.┬áHere are two complimentary methods to work up to the full pistol squat. Use one or both, but be patient.

Box Pistol Squat

The box pistol enables you to start from a standing position and lower only to a depth you can control by sitting on a box or other solid object. Over time progressively lower boxes can be used until the full pistol is achieved.

  1. Stand on one foot with your weight on your heel.
  2. Keep the non-working leg straight and contract your glutes.
  3. Raise your arms in front to chest level.
  4. Push your hamstrings back and allow your torso to lean forwards to counterbalance as you lower on to the box.
  5. To return to standing, keep your shin as vertical as possible, tense your glutes and breathe in only enough to pressurise your core. As the depth of your squat increases it will become more difficult to keep your shin vertical.
  6. Lean forwards and stand up, breathing out with a hissing sound.

Pistol – Bottom Up Method

  1. Start in a rough squat position, whatever is comfortable, but keep your back rounded.
  2. Roll on to your back then rock forward to land in the bottom position of a squat. You can use your hands for an extra push whilst rolling if you need to.
  3. When you hit the bottom of the squat try to immediately land in good form as described in the squat tutorial above.
  4. From the bottom squat position use your strength to push up a little way.

Once you have the hang of the above try to land on one leg in the bottom of a pistol squat. The form is as the two legged squat except you will be on one leg with the none working leg straight out in front, slightly off the ground, toes pointed. At first it may be difficult to keep your balance. The spine is not loaded so you can round forwards a little if you have to. Using your hands to momentarily correct the position is fine to start off with. Once you can balance and control the position with your knee facing the same way as your foot, try pushing up a couple of inches. Over time you will develop the strength to push up to standing.