The pistol squat is an exercise in which you propel and balance your entire body-weight using a single leg.
Pistol Squats (Aka, Single-Leg Squats)
In recent months, I’ve been getting a barrage of questions on social media about how to build lower body strength at home during the Coronavirus.
It’s understandable, because many lower body exercises are “loaded” (i.e., weighted), such as the back squat, front squat, and barbell or dumbbell lunges.
So, what’s a lower body exercise you can do without any equipment to build massive strength and stability?
SIMPLE. The Pistol Squat.
What is the Pistol Squat?
Also known as the single-leg squat, the pistol squat is a single-leg variation of the squat that doesn’t require anything but your own body.
Because your full bodyweight gets propelled (and balanced) by a single leg, it’s a heck of a lot harder than you’d think.
Also, for folks who can’t bear compression through their spine due to injury or for nonbinary/trans folks who have to avoid upper body training post top-surgery, it’s an effective choice.
When you do it, go as low as you can go (ideally ass to ankles).
If this is hard and you need to start a little easier, then begin by lowering yourself onto a chair or a step—and gradually increase the depth as you’re able.
How To Do The Pistol Squat
To do the pistol squat:
- Balance yourself on a single leg
- Extend your other leg out in front of you
- Gradually lower yourself as low as you can go
It’s that simple! Then explode back up to the top position.
For extra credit points, try not to touch your non-training foot to the ground as it sweeps through the motion.
What make pistol squats so hard?
If you’re a new to this movement, you may be asking yourself, “What make pistol squats so hard?”
The answer is that when you do a pistol squat, you’re required to stabilize your full bodyweight using a single leg—meaning, single point of contact with the ground.
To use an example, when you build a table, the legs don’t need to be overly study because you usually have several of them. However, on a rare occasion you will see a single-legged table.
When this happens, its essential for the single leg to be constructed of robust material and be well stabilized. Similarly, you can usually squat more on a Smith Machine (a barbell on fixed rails) than when you use free weights.
Because the pistol squat requires high levels of power, flexibility and stabilization, it is both a joy—and a challenge—to do.