What Are Pistol Squats?

Here’s the thing, we all know that bodyweight exercises tend to have a reputation of being pretty easy, but a lot of us see bodyweight exercises as pure veil if we don’t have a home gym or if we’re on a vacation.

Bodyweight exercises are really effective, but that does not mean that this will come with ease. Some bodyweight exercises are notoriously difficult and the pistol squat is definitely one of these exercises that is notoriously difficult, but if you can master it then this is certainly very impressive.

What Are Pistol Squats

What Is A Pistol Squat?

The pistol squat is where you will be balancing on one leg and you need to squat whilst keeping your chest up, and then you move back to the standing position. Yeah, it is as hard as it sounds. This is an exercise which needs coordination and also balance along with a lot of leg strength and even more confidence too.

The pistol squat is beneficial in a lot of ways that aren’t just visually pretty impressive. It helps more with unilateral strength and it also helps with improving hip mobility too.

Don't confuse pistol squats with shrimp squats. Although the two are similar in terms of their form, there are differences between pistol squats and shrimp squats including difficulty, the intention, muscles used, and range of motion of each exercise. 

How Can Pistol Squats Benefit Athletes?

So, let’s break this down. For strength athletes it is true that the mobility along with the single-leg strength used in the pistol squat can also help improve other exercises. The pistol squat will noticeably improve your performance when trying the deadlift and also the back squat.

If you are someone who plays other sports then you can definitely expect to be a lot more explosive - you should expect to be juking a lot faster and you should expect to be jumping much higher.

Additionally, if you are one of the many CrossFitters then the pistol squats are part of certain workouts of the day, so you will have more than enough practice at attempting this move.

The pistol squat is by no means an easy exercise, but this is an exercise that will come through hard work and a whole lot of practice. After all, practice always makes perfect - and with this exercise in particular perseverance is key.

How To Do The Pistol Squat

The key to mastering the pistol squat is getting that technique spot on. So, here is our outline of how to do pistol squats with that perfect technique.

  1. Start just by standing on one leg - when you do this you need to ensure that your toes are pointed forward and that they are slightly turned out too.
  2. Do the same with the other leg - make sure that both of your quads are flexed and ready to attempt the pistol squat.
  3. Ensure that you use your foot that you are keeping on the floor as a grip - you can do this by turning your toes and your knee outward slightly and this is where you should feel your glutes activate. You should notice that this will help you to stay stable during your pistol squat.
  4. Time to squat down - be sure to brace not just your core but your back muscles too, and hinge your hips forward slightly. When you squat down you need to make sure that you let your knee pass over your toes as low as you can go.
  5. Stay balanced - do this by reaching with both hands straight in front of you, and this will help you to add a counter balance to the bodyweight. You might even find that holding a light plate will work well here too.
  6. Time to sit back into that squat - wait until you feel that your body weight is evenly distributed over the foot that is on the ground and then carefully sit back into the squat. When you do this you need to make sure that your torso has a slight forward lean.
  7. Use your single-leg strength well - when you are in the deep squat position, you should use your single-leg to press through the floor which will in turn engage your abs.
  8. Time to stand up - when you go to stand back up you should put pressure on your entire foot and then you should stand up straight. You need to make sure that you come to a standing position and then take a breather before going into your next rep. Doing this will ensure that you are in the best starting position possible.

What Are The Benefits Of The Pistol Squat?

This exercise is notoriously tricky, but it does come with a whole host of benefits. This exercise will help you to improve your balance, and it will also help you to improve your coordination. This exercise will also be a huge help in improving your single-leg strength.

The pistol squat is an especially good exercise for helping you to improve your unilateral strength. We all prefer one side to the other, or we naturally have a stronger arm or a stronger leg.

Or, you might even notice that when you are standing you will lean more to one side than the other and this is not something to worry about. Most of us do it. But, gradually over time this can really lead to slight imbalances.

The pistol squat is key in helping to even out these imbalances as each leg and all of the supporting stabilizer muscles are forced to work completely independently.

The pistol squat will also really help you to improve your balance along with your coordination too. Here’s the thing, we all know that balance and coordination is a skill that we all possess but they can be made better and enhanced by practising single-leg work. The pistol squat is the perfect exercise to help you to achieve this.

In Conclusion

Naturally, the pistol squat will really help you to build up your muscle strength because your leg will be under a lot more tension. This is because it will not be sharing your body weight with your other leg.

The amount of weight that you will be putting on that one leg will have nearly doubled. This can in turn lead to muscle growth and a whole lotta stress gains too.

Kevin Harris