Bodyweight Exercise: How to do Pistol Squats Safely

A Guide for Beginners and Advanced Athletes

Bodyweight movements have become increasingly popular among fitness enthusiasts, and one of the most challenging and effective exercises is the pistol squat. This movement involves squatting on one leg while holding the other leg straight out in front of you. It’s a challenging exercise that requires balance, flexibility, mobility, and strength, making it a pinnacle bodyweight exercise.

In this article, we will discuss how to do pistol squats safely and effectively. We will also provide tips and variations to help you progress to a full pistol squat.

Firstly, it’s important to note that the pistol squat is not for everyone, and it might take a significant amount of time and commitment to achieve it. The movement involves lots of mobility in the ankle, knee, and hip joints, and it requires the right amount of strength, flexibility, mobility, and balance. Therefore, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to progress to a pistol squat safely.

The first step is to ensure that you can perform a full squat or low squat pain-free with your heels on the ground. This movement will help you develop the strength and mobility necessary for a pistol squat. Once you’ve achieved this, you can move on to practicing one-leg squats with a chair behind you to limit the range of motion.

Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and facing away from the chair. Lift one leg off the ground and extend it in front of you parallel to the ground. Slowly lower yourself down by bending your working leg and pushing your hips back, while keeping your non-working leg extended in front of you. Use the chair to limit the range of motion, so you don’t go too low.

Once you’ve mastered the one-leg squat with the chair, you can move on to a full squat to roll on your back and use momentum to come up. This movement helps you develop the explosiveness and strength necessary for the pistol squat. Start in a full squat position and roll backward until you’re lying on your back. Then use the momentum to come back up into a standing position. Repeat this movement until you can perform it comfortably.

The next step is to extend one leg forward and come down slowly with control. As you lower yourself down, your non-working leg should remain straight out in front of you. Once you reach the bottom of the squat, roll back and use momentum to come back up. Repeat this movement until you can perform it comfortably.

Another variation is to come down slowly with control, then put your feet down in a squat position and press yourself up with two legs. This movement helps you focus on the eccentric part of the pistol squat, which is coming down in a squat position. It’s an effective way to build strength and muscle in your legs.

Remember, it’s crucial to maintain proper form while performing pistol squats to avoid injury. Ensure that your knees track in line with your toes and that your hips remain level. If you’re struggling with your form, seek the help of a personal trainer to correct any issues.

In conclusion, the pistol squat is a challenging but effective bodyweight exercise that can help you develop strength, flexibility, mobility, and balance. It requires a significant amount of time and commitment to achieve it safely, but it’s worth it. Remember to start with the basic movements and progress gradually to the full pistol squat. And most importantly, maintain proper form to avoid injury.

Pistol Squat Tutorial and Variations