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Why pistol squats are so difficult (and how to do them anyway)

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Photo: xamyak ((((Shutterstock).

The pistol squat is one of the most striking feats in the world of physical fitness, right next to backflips and perfect handstands. Well, you can’t do the other two, but you can knock out a bunch of pistol squats. Let’s talk about what will be one.

Quadriceps strength

Let’s cover the most obvious first. To crouch up or down on one leg, that leg must be able to support the weight of the whole body. Requires strong quadriceps. That is, the quadriceps, a group of muscles in the front of the thigh.

Suppose you weigh 200 pounds. A normal two-legged air squat requires each leg to be responsible for moving up and down a weight of 100 pounds (that is, half the weight).When you pistol you are asking 1 Feet to take on full £ 200.

Therefore, if you want to play a pistol, you need strong legs. At the very least, you should be able to crouch your weight with a barbell. In other words, the £ 200 person in this example can crouch with a £ 200 bar on his back and ask him to move a total of £ 400 on his two legs.

Well, this is My hypothesis. I don’t promise that it’s an invariant law of nature or something, but it seems to be in line with my experience and that of others I know.It also minimum.. The stronger your legs, the easier the pistol.

The strength of one leg

Just because you’re good at two-legged squats all The strength needed to crouch on one leg. As already explained, moving the body up and down requires mainly the force from the quadriceps. But when you’re on one leg Also requirement:

  • Abductor Strength to prevent the legs from tipping inward (using the muscles of the buttocks and the outside of the hips).
  • Adductioneer Strength that assists the quadriceps and balances the abductor muscles (muscles inside the thighs).
  • Hip flexor Strength to hold the free leg in the “pistol” position (muscle attached to the front of the thigh).

If you want to play a pistol, you also need to work on this. You can target each muscle directly, but the following one-sided (one-sided) leg exercises can be quite effective.

  • Step up, increase the height of the box over time and add weight as needed
  • Lunge (forward and / or reverse)
  • Bulgarian split squats (with hind legs on the bench) or other types of split squats
  • Step down. It controls the descending part of the movement and helps to push it back to the top using the free legs.
  • Shrimp squat Progress, using your free feet behind you
  • B stance squatHas both legs on the ground, but uses one leg more than the other
  • The pistol crouches into the box, sits on the box or bench behind it, and stands up with just one foot. (I sometimes call these “standing on one leg”“)

All of these exercises can be weighted. Hold a dumbbell in your hand to step up, or hang a kettlebell on your shoulder for a box pistol.

While adjusting the strength of the hip flexors (by the way, the leg raises that are seated and hanging are great), you can hold your toes with your hands when getting down to the squat and remove them from the equation for now. ..


If you’re doing all of these one-legged exercises, it can be difficult to just balance with one leg. That’s normal! It is also a skill that you can improve immediately. Stand on one foot and imagine your foot as a tripod (thumb, big toe, heel) or, like me, wearing quad roller skates, your foot.

One-legged exercises can help build this balance, as do standing balance exercises, such as standing on one leg when brushing your teeth. When you stand up stably, try moving around and bending your knees. Keep in mind that you need to move your hips backwards and your chest forwards to keep your balance as your knees bend. This is very important.


Pistol squats are most striking when done “from the butt to the grass” and go down as much as the body allows. This means that your hips are barely touching your shoes, and your knees usually need to move far forward of your toes. (No, you Doesn’t hurt my knee By putting your knees on your toes. )

The most common thing that keeps people from getting into deep squats is ankle mobility. The shins need to tilt forward in order for the hips to be low. The Achilles tendon behind the ankle needs to stretch slightly to keep the foot flat on the ground while the shin is tilted forward. Here are some tips on ankle mobilityIt includes not only stretching, but also simple modifications such as wearing shoes with high heels.

When descending to the pistol squat position, be careful if you feel resistance elsewhere. Depending on your body proportions, you may need to stretch or build strength elsewhere.


Finally, we reach the truth that skilled movements are practiced.The stronger and more agile you are, the less it may practice, but in the end you need to learn how Do a pistol squat. Being able to balance with one foot while standing is not the same as being able to fully balance in a squatting position. You also need to be able to balance as you descend all positions in between. ..

As you practice your pistol, pausing at the bottom can help you regain stability before you stand up. Or you may prefer to bounce off the bottom quickly and undo.

One way to practice before you’re completely down is to go down with one foot, roll on your back, and then Roll forward again, balance with your feet and stand up.. This gives you some momentum, which is useful when you still don’t have any power to accelerate yourself upwards.

After all, there is no one-size-fits-all answer on how to get your first pistol squat. Some people have strength, but lack mobility, or vice versa. Some people are at a disadvantage in one sense, but others are at an advantage. For example, I have a 1 mile long femur. This means that you need to be in a fairly extreme knee-toe position, but you also have enough ankle mobility to get there and be strong in that position. Understand what’s missing and eliminate weaknesses. And if you don’t know your weaknesses, work on everything. You will get there soon.

Why pistol squats are so difficult (and how to do them anyway)

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