How To: Pistol Squat – 5 Exercises to Build to a Pistol Squat – with Progressions

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Hello Everyone!

Welcome to today’s tutorial: How to Pistol Squat. This has been a popular video request. A lot of people want to master a single leg/pistol squat, but they don’t know where to start. If this is a skill you’ve wanted to accomplish you have come to the right place!

Benefits of Pistol Squats

Pistol squat photo tutorial: single leg squat

Pistol squats are one of the best exercises you can do for your lower body. They are very effective for building strength through the glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, core, hip flexors and hip adductors. They also help to decrease muscular imbalances, improve balance, and increase functional mobility.

Why You Can’t Pistol Squat and How to Fix It:

A lot of people ask me why they can’t pistol squat. There are three main components of a pistol squat:
1. Strength

2. Balance

3. Mobility/Flexibility

In order to pistol squat you need to work on all three of these areas. In the video below I will take you through five exercises, with progressions to help you build the strength, balance, and mobility needed for this skill.

You need to have enough single leg strength to lift your entire body. While there are many ways to build lower body strength, I demonstrate some effective techniques, with transferable skills in this video. We are focusing on single leg exercises to also improve balance while building strength.

Often, I see people who have the physical strength and balance to complete this skill, but they don’t have enough mobility and range of motion. Keep in mind, each of these skills can be improved on, but it takes time and practice. You should also practice each skill on both legs.

Flexibility and Balance fluctuate. Some days balance skills will feel easier than others. Balance and flexibility can be impacted by how much sleep you got, and even how hydrated you are, but the best way to progress these skills is by practicing.

You need to be consistent in going through these skills, but the feeling of accomplishment that you feel when you achieve your first pistol squat will be worth it! There is a mental benefit that comes with working on a difficult skill. Enjoy the progress and notice each gain along the way.

The Video Tutorial:

  1. Seated hip Flexor lift: builds strength and mobility through the core, quads and hip flexors.
  2. Single Leg Sit to Stand: builds strength to lift your body weight with one leg. Progress this skill by eventually sitting and standing from lower surfaces.
  3. Elevated single leg squat: Builds strength, and the elevation allows you to go more deeply into the squat to progress your range of motion.
  4. Supported single leg squat: puts together each component of the movement while using support.
  5. Deep Yoga Squat: Improves mobility and flexibility necessary for the full movement. Progression: add the leg lift, and eventually practice the full movement from this position.

I hope that you find this video helpful! I would love to hear how you progress with your goals and through each exercise. Are there any other exercises that you would like to see a video tutorial for? Let me know in the comments.


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Pistol squat photo tutorial: single leg squat

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