Learn how to Do a Pistol Squat: Every thing You Must Know

There aren’t many actions that showcase a mix of energy, stability, coordination, and talent fairly just like the pistol squat.

As a efficiency objective, the pistol squat presents you with a tremendous alternative to problem your self and see what you’re able to with exhausting work and constant observe — all whereas constructing some critical decrease physique energy and steadiness alongside the best way.

Mastering the pistol squat is a highly regarded objective, however getting began and determining how one can progress can really feel overwhelming. Whether or not you need to obtain your very first pistol squat or improve the variety of reps you are able to do, on this article, I’ll offer you step-by-step steering to get there.

You’ll be taught:

Plus, I’ve added a enjoyable bonus problem you possibly can deal with whenever you’re prepared!

What Is a Pistol Squat?

A pistol squat is a complicated, unilateral, lower-body train through which you carry out a single-leg squat, descending till your glute nearly touches your heel (i.e., a “rock-bottom” place) whereas holding the alternative leg out in entrance of you. It requires energy in your quads, glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, and core, and your toes and ankles do a whole lot of stabilizing work.

Basically, the pistol squat is a energy talent — an train requiring each energy and talent — that may be developed by way of constant observe. However there’s a twist. Not like different energy abilities, the pistol squat additionally requires steadiness (a complete lot of it) and mobility. This mixture makes it a very difficult train!

What to Know Earlier than You Pistol Squat

Two questions come up incessantly relating to pistol squats, so let’s tackle these first.

Query #1. Do Pistol Squats Harm Your Knee?

The most typical query concerning the pistol squat is, “However gained’t that harm the knee?”

It is a legitimate concern contemplating many individuals have been taught — usually, adamantly so — that the knees ought to by no means journey previous the toes when squatting. Nonetheless, expertise has proven that for people who don’t have knee points, deep squats can completely be protected.

That mentioned, sure workout routines could by no means be applicable for each distinctive physique.

Pistol squats will not be best for you should you at the moment have (or have a historical past of) ache and discomfort in your:

  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Decrease again
  • Ankles
  • Toes

Query #2. What’s the Applicable Footwear?

Many individuals marvel if they need to put on sneakers or go barefoot when doing pistol squats.

Pistol squats are greatest carried out together with your foot (together with ball and heel) rooted firmly into the ground, with all toes urgent down. Due to this, a shoe with a thick, squishy sole will make it considerably tougher to steadiness throughout a pistol squat. Most people are inclined to have higher steadiness barefoot or whereas carrying sneakers with a really skinny and versatile sole.

Once you’re beginning out, you may discover that carrying a sturdy shoe with a barely elevated heel (for instance, a Nike Metcon or an Olympic-lifting shoe) gives you a slight benefit and might compensate for a scarcity of mobility. That mentioned, we encourage you to work in your mobility so that you’re not counting on a selected shoe so as to carry out a pistol squat.

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7 Progressions to Assist You Grasp the Pistol Squat

Earlier than we dive into how one can do a full pistol squat, let’s begin with the progressions you should use to be sure you’re advancing safely, fairly than tackling the pistol squat earlier than you’re prepared. The next workout routines will show you how to develop the energy and stability needed for protected pistols.

All through this text, you’ll discover I encourage you to create stress in your arms and squeeze your fists. Sustaining stress in your arms and fists will show you how to steadiness. To raised perceive this concept, take into consideration somebody strolling a tightrope — their arms are by no means tender and unfastened at their sides; as a substitute, their arms are prolonged with loads of stress all through.

1. Slender-Stance Squat with Counterweight

Earlier than you will get to a rock-bottom squat with one leg, you could have to have the ability to do it with two! That’s why I like to recommend beginning with a narrow-stance squat utilizing a counterweight.

Right here’s the way you do it:

  • Stand together with your toes collectively.
  • Maintain a lightweight plate or dumbbell (10 kilos or lighter) out in entrance of you to make use of as a counterweight, which is able to assist with steadiness.
  • Descend right into a rock-bottom place whereas protecting your toes firmly planted on the ground. Keep away from lifting your toes, rocking round in your toes, or elevating your heels.
  • Rise up in a easy and managed method. Resist the temptation to “bounce” out of the underside place.

Purpose for five–8 reps, protecting the reps easy and managed. When you are able to do that, put aside the counterweight and check out it with simply your body weight.

As soon as you possibly can carry out the narrow-stance squat (both with or and not using a counterweight) for five–8 reps, you’re prepared to maneuver on to the subsequent development.

Word: The narrow-stance squat, with or and not using a counterweight, will all the time be a improbable warm-up motion. I encourage you to incorporate 5–8 reps of it earlier than doing any further pistol squat work. 

2. Gradual Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift to Single-Leg Steadiness

Glorious steadiness is non-negotiable for the pistol squat. Like so many different abilities, steadiness is one thing you possibly can enhance considerably with constant coaching. One drill I like for creating steadiness is the gradual single-leg Romanian deadlift to single-leg steadiness.

Right here’s the way you do it:

  • Stand together with your toes about hip-width aside.
  • Firmly plant your proper foot into the ground.
  • Lengthen your proper arm out to your aspect and create stress all through your arm, squeezing your hand right into a fist.
  • Maintain your head and backbone in a impartial place and lock your gaze onto one thing that isn’t shifting, ideally one thing on the ground a number of toes in entrance of you.
  • Maintain your hips and shoulders sq., hinge at your hips, and carry your left foot off the ground, elevating it behind you as your higher physique tilts ahead.
  • Cease as soon as you possibly can’t push your hips again any additional or when your higher physique is parallel with the ground.
  • Reverse the motion to face up straight.
  • As you stand, elevate your left knee till your thigh is parallel with the ground and steadiness for 3–5 seconds in your proper foot.

Purpose for five–8 reps per aspect, protecting the reps easy and managed.

If the total drill is just too difficult proper now, eradicate the single-leg Romanian deadlift portion and simply work on the single-leg steadiness a part of the drill for five–8 reps per leg, holding every rep 5–10 seconds. You are able to do this all through the day whereas finishing different duties, comparable to brushing your enamel or ready to your espresso to brew.

As soon as you possibly can carry out each the narrow-stance squat for five–8 reps and the gradual single-leg Romanian deadlift to single-leg steadiness for five–8 reps per aspect, you’re prepared to maneuver on to the third development.

Word: Very like the narrow-stance squat, this steadiness train will all the time be a improbable warm-up motion or an train to revisit periodically to proceed working in your steadiness. 

3. Alternating Single-Leg Steadiness with Counterweight

The alternating single-leg steadiness drill will show you how to develop energy and steadiness within the backside place of the pistol squat. It’s additionally wonderful for creating the hip flexor energy needed to carry the alternative leg out in entrance of you.

Right here’s the way you do it:

  • Stand together with your toes collectively.
  • With a agency grip, maintain a lightweight weight out in entrance of you as a counterweight and create stress by way of your arms.
  • Slowly descend right into a rock-bottom place whereas protecting your toes firmly planted on the ground.
  • When you’re within the rock-bottom place, slowly prolong one leg out in entrance of you for a couple of seconds.
  • Work to carry regular and eradicate any wiggling.
  • Convey your leg again to the rock-bottom squat place and prolong your reverse leg.

Alternate legs, holding every rep for two–5 seconds for a complete of three–6 reps on all sides. When you possibly can carry out this drill, put aside the counterweight and check out it with simply your body weight.

As soon as you possibly can carry out the alternating single-leg steadiness (both with or and not using a counterweight) for 3–6 reps per aspect, you’re prepared to maneuver on to the subsequent development.

4. Field-Assisted Pistol Squat

You’ve made it this far, and also you’re properly in your method to attaining a pistol squat! It’s time to start out tying every little thing along with box-assisted pistol squats.

In a box-assisted pistol squat, you carry out a single-leg squat all the way down to a field (or chair), then you definately stand again up.

Begin with a field top that means that you can squat till your thighs are parallel with the ground. As you progress, slowly decrease the peak of the field to make it more difficult.

Right here’s the way you do it:

  • Place the field behind you.
  • Stand near the field together with your toes collectively.
  • Firmly press your proper foot into the ground. Think about you’re rooted to the bottom by way of your toes, the ball of your foot, and your heel.
  • Balancing in your proper leg, carry your left leg and prolong it out in entrance of you, flexing your left foot.
  • Lengthen your arms out in entrance of you and squeeze your arms into fists, creating stress by way of your arms.
  • Descend right into a single-leg squat till you sit down on the field behind you.
  • When you’re seated, squeeze your fists a bit tighter, interact by way of your core, and use the energy and steadiness of your proper leg to face again up.

Purpose for five–8 reps per aspect.

As soon as you possibly can carry out this drill with a field top that has you squatting beneath parallel, you’re prepared to maneuver on to the subsequent development.

5. Pistol Squat to a Field

The pistol squat to a field is totally different from a box-assisted pistol squat. On this drill, you gained’t sit down on the field — you’ll simply frivolously faucet it together with your glutes earlier than standing again up. That is the subsequent step in constructing energy and steadiness, taking you one step nearer to your pistol squat.

For this drill, you’ll want a field top that means that you can squat till your thighs are parallel (or simply beneath parallel) with the ground.

Right here’s the way you do it:

  • Place the field behind you.
  • Stand near the field together with your toes collectively.
  • Firmly press your proper foot into the ground. Think about you’re rooted to the bottom by way of your toes, the ball of your foot, and your heel.
  • Balancing in your proper leg, carry your left leg and prolong it, flexing your foot.
  • Lengthen your arms out in entrance of you and squeeze your arms into fists, creating stress by way of your arms.
  • Descend right into a single-leg squat till you possibly can frivolously faucet the field together with your glutes. (Keep in mind, you’re not sitting all the best way down!)
  • As quickly as your glutes make contact with the field, squeeze your fists a bit tighter, interact by way of your core, and use the energy and steadiness of your proper leg to face again up.

Purpose for 3–5 reps per aspect.

As soon as you possibly can carry out this drill with a field top that has you squatting beneath parallel, you’re prepared to maneuver on to the subsequent development.

6. Assisted Pistol Squat

You’ve been working so exhausting to get right here. It’s time to place all that observe to the check with the assisted pistol squat.

The assisted pistol squat is an superior method to prepare the motion sample and get you practising full pistol squats with just a bit little bit of assist as you proceed to fine-tune the energy and talent required.

You’ve gotten a couple of choices for help: one thing sturdy, just like the aspect of a squat rack (as proven within the demo video beneath); a suspension coach, comparable to a TRX system; and even your exercise accomplice’s hand.

Right here’s the way you do it:

  • Stand together with your toes collectively.
  • Firmly press your proper foot into the ground. Think about you’re rooted to the bottom by way of your toes, the ball of your foot, and your heel.
  • Seize the aspect of the squat rack (or your chosen help choice) together with your proper hand.
  • Lengthen your left arm out in entrance of you and squeeze your left hand right into a fist, creating stress by way of your arm.
  • Balancing in your proper leg, carry your left leg and prolong it, flexing your foot.
  • Descend right into a single-leg squat.
  • When you attain the rock-bottom place, squeeze your left fist a bit tighter, interact by way of your core, and use the energy and steadiness of your proper leg to face again up. On the identical time, use your proper hand on the squat rack to get as a lot help as it’s worthwhile to pull your self again up.

Purpose for 3–5 reps per aspect. Most people discover it’s greatest to alternate legs every rep to provide their working leg a bit break.

As soon as you’re feeling snug with this drill, it’s time to attempt full pistol squats!

7. Pistol Squat With Counterweight

You made it! Are you prepared? After all, you’re!

When trying your first pistol squat, a counterweight might be extremely useful for locating and protecting your steadiness. Seize a dumbbell, a kettlebell, a weight plate, or anything that’s simple to carry. We advocate a lightweight counterweight. For most people, 5–10 kilos is ideal for beginning out.

Right here’s the way you do it:

  • Holding your counterweight, stand together with your toes collectively.
  • Firmly press your proper foot into the ground. Think about you’re rooted to the bottom by way of your toes, the ball of your foot, and your heel.
  • Get a agency grip in your counterweight and prolong your arms out in entrance of you, creating stress by way of your arms.
  • Balancing in your proper leg, carry your left leg and prolong it, flexing your foot.
  • Descend into your pistol squat.
  • When you get to the rock-bottom place, squeeze your counterweight a bit tighter, interact by way of your core, and use the energy and steadiness of your proper leg to face again up.

Now, attempt the identical factor on the opposite aspect!

Don’t be stunned in case your pistol squat feels so much stronger on one aspect — being stronger or having higher steadiness and coordination on one aspect is widespread and to be anticipated. Proceed coaching each side.

When you’re able to ditch your counterweight, it’s time to attempt a pistol squat with simply your body weight.

Learn how to Do a Correct Pistol Squat

Now comes the actually enjoyable half — the total pistol squat! Should you’ve labored by way of the progressions, a whole lot of this may really feel acquainted to your physique by now.

Right here’s the way you do it:

  • Stand together with your toes collectively.
  • Firmly press your proper foot into the ground. Think about you’re rooted to the bottom by way of your toes, the ball of your foot, and your heel.
  • Balancing in your proper leg, carry your left leg and prolong it out in entrance of you, flexing your foot.
  • Lengthen your arms and squeeze your arms into fists, creating stress out of your shoulders to your arms.
  • Descend into your pistol squat.
  • When you attain the rock-bottom place (or as little as your physique safely means that you can go), squeeze your fists a bit tighter, interact by way of your core, and use the energy and steadiness of your proper leg to face again up.
  • Repeat for reps, or change sides.

You probably did it! Congratulations!

Now that you just’re conversant in pistol squat progressions and the pistol squat, let’s go over some widespread errors and roadblocks to refine your method and assist hold you robust and protected.

3 Widespread Pistol Squat Errors to Keep away from

There’s no denying it: The pistol squat is a difficult train, and method errors can simply slip into your coaching. Let’s go over three widespread errors and how one can keep away from them.

Mistake #1: Bouncing Out of the Backside Place

The primary widespread mistake is bouncing out of the underside place, or in different phrases, descending in a short time into the rock-bottom place and trying to make use of the physique’s momentum (as a substitute of energy) to face again up.

This strategy is kind of dangerous and might make your joints very sad. As an alternative of utilizing momentum, decelerate. Attempt to improve your energy and management your tempo so you possibly can carry out your pistol squats safely.

Mistake #2: Transferring Round on the Stabilizing Foot

The second widespread mistake is rocking and rolling round or lifting the toes on the stabilizing foot. That is usually a type of compensation for a scarcity of steadiness — besides it does the alternative.

The much less floor space your foot has involved with the ground, the tougher it is going to be to steadiness. Concentrate on enhancing your steadiness with the drills outlined above so that you’ll really feel robust and steady when standing on one foot.

Mistake #3: Making an attempt Pistol Squats With out Sufficient Mobility

Lastly, I usually see of us try pistol squats with out having the required mobility to carry out them appropriately.

Offering an answer for each mobility problem standing between you and a pistol squat is past the scope of this text. Nonetheless, I’ve included some warm-up workout routines (together with video demos) beneath that you could be discover useful for enhancing your mobility. Should you’re experiencing mobility limitations, we advocate working with a coach or a physiotherapist that can assist you tackle your particular wants.

Heat-up

  • Body weight squat x 10
  • Deep squat with rotation x 10 per aspect
  • Ankle rock x 10 per aspect
  • Squat to ahead fold x 10
  • Downward canine with heel drop x 10 per aspect

Are you a well being and health skilled? Be sure to keep away from these 5 teaching errors whenever you work with feminine purchasers.

Troubleshooting Roadblocks

Even with step-by-step steering, you may run into two widespread roadblocks. Let’s troubleshoot!

Roadblock #1: Problem Holding the Reverse Leg Up

Some of us get all the best way to a pistol squat, solely to understand it’s not the squatting that’s giving them bother. As an alternative, they’re struggling to carry the alternative leg in place.

If that’s the case for you, attempt practising pistol squats off a field.

Resolution: Pistol Squats Off a Field

Pistol squats off a field help you hold practising and constructing energy with the motion and supply a bit wiggle room so that you don’t have to carry your reverse leg up fairly as excessive.

As you proceed practising your pistol squats, you’ll develop hip flexor energy, which is able to show you how to hold your leg prolonged.

For this drill, you’ll want a field that’s about 12 inches tall — simply sufficient to provide your leg a bit room if it must drop down.

Right here’s the way you do it:

  • Holding your counterweight, step onto the field and stand together with your toes collectively.
  • Firmly press your proper foot into the field. Think about you’re rooted to the bottom by way of your toes, the ball of your foot, and your heel.
  • Grip your counterweight firmly and prolong your arms, creating stress out of your shoulders to your arms.
  • Balancing in your proper leg, carry your left leg and prolong it out in entrance of you, flexing your foot.
  • Descend into your pistol squat.
  • When you get to the rock-bottom place, squeeze your counterweight a bit tighter, interact by way of your core, and use the energy and steadiness of your proper leg to face again up.

Purpose for 3–5 reps per aspect, alternating sides between reps.

Roadblock #2: Hassle within the Backside Place

Some of us can get down right into a pistol squat however really feel very unstable in that rock-bottom place. They wrestle to come back up out of it. If that’s the case for you, we advocate the seated pistol drill.

Resolution: The Seated Pistol Drill

The seated pistol drill is a superb method to develop energy, stability, and confidence within the rock-bottom place.

Right here’s the way you do it:

  • Sit on the ground and prolong your left leg out in entrance of you, flexing your foot.
  • Bend your proper knee and draw your heel in near your glutes, protecting your proper foot flat on the ground.
  • Lengthen your arms out in entrance of you, and squeeze your arms into fists to create stress by way of your arms.
  • Interact by way of your core, press your proper foot into the ground, and carry your hips and left leg off the ground (get that left foot up too!).
  • Maintain for 3–5 seconds, then return to a seated place.
  • Swap sides.

Purpose for 3–5 reps per aspect, alternating legs between reps if it’s worthwhile to.

 

Bonus Problem: Rollback Pistols

In any case this difficult work, let’s have a bit enjoyable with a drill known as the rollback pistol! It is a nice method to embody some playtime in your coaching. It might even have helpful carryover to your pistol squat observe as a result of it requires a whole lot of consciousness to “stick” the touchdown.

Right here’s the way you do it:

  • Stand together with your toes collectively.
  • Lengthen your arms out in entrance of you, and squeeze your arms into fists to create stress by way of your arms.
  • Slowly decrease your self down into your narrow-stance squat.
  • Gently land your glutes onto the ground behind you.
  • Tuck your chin into your chest and let your self roll backward; then, utilizing a bit momentum, roll ahead.
  • As you roll ahead, prolong your left leg and bend your proper knee.
  • Root your proper foot firmly into the ground.
  • Interact by way of your core, squeeze your fists, and use your energy to carry your left leg off the bottom.
  • Maintain for a second or two, after which tuck your chin and roll again once more.
  • This time, attempt the opposite aspect!

Searching for your subsequent squat problem? Strive these 5 superior squat variations.

Whereas pistol squats might be intimidating initially, with constant coaching — and a few persistence — you possibly can completely get there! Take heed to your physique, work by way of the progressions we coated, and take on a regular basis it’s worthwhile to be sure you’ll be robust and protected whenever you’re able to deal with the total pistol squat. And bear in mind to have enjoyable — benefit from the course of and get pleasure from all of the superb issues your physique can do!

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