THE PISTOL SQUAT PROGRESSION LADDER

EXERCISE BREAKDOWN: PISTOL SQUATS

HOW TO DO IT
**disclaimer – man I’m sh** at these. I really know how to do them but they are still hard. I use counter weights or I fall on my arse every other rep. If you’re like me, don’t be proud. Use counter weights and build strength – don’t waste your time falling all over the place too often.

START WITH WEIGHT ON THE WORKING LEG – rest on the ball of the foot of the other leg, all the weight on your working leg though.

INITIATE WITH HIP FLEXOR PULL – Don’t just drop down and hope to land right. Feel like you actively pull yourself into position with the Hip Flexors of your working leg. This will lead to better positioning and control.

KICK OTHER LEG OUT STRAIGHT – If you can. If you feel like your Quads are going to cramp, you’re doing it right, it won’t always feel like that, you will get used to it. The straighter it is, the More-Athletic you will be and the easier it will be to balance (more weighty forward, less fall-y backwards).

KEEP SPINE TALL, REACH ARMS FORWARDS – You may need to round your spine on these – unless your super athletic, but don’t think about this. Get as tall as you can. Reach your arms forward hard to counter balance.

SIT ALL THE WAY DOWN. PAUSE AT THE BOTTOM – Bum should touch your Hamstrings or only be very slightly off. There should be no doubt, you are at the bottom and you have nowhere else to go!

FEEL GLUTE STRETCH – If you can feel the muscle in your bum stretch at the bottom then even better.

DRIVE THROUGH HEAL TO COME BACK UP – As with any squat – imagine your stamping through the ground or on someone you hate! Push the ground away and you’ll activate the Extensor Chain.

GLUTE LOCK AT THE TOP – Look the leg at the top for full range of motion, feel your quads working, feel your Glutes on. Then punch the air to celebrate if it was the first time you did a full clean rep. Otherwise, just get on with your next rep.

HOW IT GOES WROING AND HOW TO FIX IT
You fall over sideways – This is balance. Get something to hold onto and practice a lot.

You sink down passively – The ‘Hip Flexor Pull’ can take a while to get your mind around, but it will put you in a better position and give you more control. Think and practice until you get it.

You fall over backwards – If you lose balance, you may fall over backwards. If you don’t use your arms or counter weights to reach forward hard you may fall over backwards. If you lack the mobility at the ankle (like me) or Hips – you may not be able to do these and you will fall over backwards. If you don’t reach your spare leg out in front – you may fall over backwards. The solution is practice, using counter weights, and working hard on your flexibility so that you can get into the required position consistently.

o – if you use too much weight, don’t have enough strength or run out of gas, you will probably fall over backwards. Have a rest before your next set!

You can’t straighten your front leg – Either your Hamstring is tight, or – more likely – you need to strengthen your Quads and get used to this position. Work on V-Ups and L-Sits and you’ll adapt.

You can’t come back up again – get stronger. Use shorter range of motion while you learn if necessary.

WICKED CUES
Upper Body Still, Push the earth away – “Chuck Norris doesn’t do push ups, he does earth downs”. The same principle applies here. Don’t think about getting back up. Think about holding position and pushing the ground away. Coming up will take care of itself.

Sit back, Reach Forward – Initiate with Hip Flexor Pull – Get your bum back, reach your arms and other ‘spare leg’ forwards and you’ll get these.

PROGRESSIONS
Add weight

Jumps

REGRESSIONS
Hold onto something –

Skater Squat

Less Range

Candlestick

Assistance Weights

WHY DO IT
Compound Leg strength, full range of motion – even most good athletes aren’t going to get this much range of motion open normal squats. These will take your leg development to another level if you do them well. Quads, Hammies, Glutes will all have to adapt in a new way.

Hard without weight, doesn’t take much – If you don’t have a lot of kit but want to get strong, these will be a powerful tool to you. They are pretty tough bodyweight. With 20-30k weight you have to be a serious athlete to build to 10 or more reps.

Body Balance and Athleticism – Because these are a single leg activity, they force each side to work independently. This is important for exposing and working through any imbalances you have one side to another. You’ll be a stronger and better athlete for making your legs work independently of each other.

If that’s not enough, remember that done well – these look pretty cool and demand you get your mind on the job, if you don’t focus, you’ll probably end up on your arse.

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