THE ROLLING PISTOL PROGRESSION LADDER

If you like rolling and you like squatting, this is definitely the progression ladder for you. Pistols will build your leg strength through a full range of motion and if you master this ladder, you'll certainly have the legs of someone who can Pistol Squat. That has to be a good thing.

LET'S TALK ABOUT IT...

On this ladder we work through a series of progressions that take you towards a full Pistol Squat. Good Pistol Squatting is the mark of strong and mobile legs, and are one of the very best things to do if you want to develop strong, lean and sexy thighs and arse. If you have healthy knees and want to see both your leg shape and performance boost over the next few years, dedicate to taking yourself to the top of this ladder slowly and carefully and I’m sure you’ll be delighted with the results. It starts with an easy two-leg rolling Pistol Sqaut, bonus tip if you struggle getting started, get a thick gym mat or a few towels to make it easier in the short term.

TO MASTER THIS LADDER -- dedicate to all 4 of the squat progressions on The Strength Sessions Programme, and supplement with the Kettlebell Swings if your setup allows.

PROGRESSION 1: TWO LEG ROLLING SQUAT

CRITERIA: 

–> Heals must stay grounded throughout the squat (not so much on the roll, that would be silly).
–> That’s it.

WAFFLE

Why did I even include this as a progression I hear you ask? It’s really just a drill I use in classes for warm up and to get the rolling bit in your head. Never mind, it’s done now.

You may have a few mobility issues that need attention, work on those if you struggle to squat down low, but 95% of people can do this strength wise.

PROGRESSION 2: ROLLING PISTOL. STATIC. WITH HANDS.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Working heal must stay grounded
–> Bottom position must be held for one second
–> Spare leg must be held straight

First month: basics month. That means simple. That doesn’t mean less effective -- remember that. Every time we bring the programme back around to basics month, you should be filled with a tremendous anticipation as it's one of the best months to really test your strength and show how you've improved at the classic moves. Simply get fundamentally better at this stuff and your body will show it.

PROGRESSION 3: ROLLING PISTOL. STATIC. NO HANDS.

CRITERIA: 

–> Working heal must stay down
–> Position must be held dead still for 1 second
–> Spare leg must be locked

WAFFLE

Here we simply roll into the bottom of the Pistol Squat and hold still. Finally, there’s actually a little bit of real strength needed here. There’s a bit of balance and skill required too, just to annoy you balance-challenged folk. The more mobility and control you have, the easier these will be strength-wise.

PROGRESSION 4: ROLLING PISTOL. ONE LEG DOWN. TWO LEGS UP.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Your working heal must stay grounded on the way down
–> You must land gently
–> Your front leg must remain locked all the way down
–> Both heals must be down as you squat back up

The next step towards doing actual Pistol Squats is to actually start going up and down on one leg — we had to get there some time right?! Here we start with a proper eccentric Pistol Squat, proving you have the strength to lower yourself down to the mat, on one leg, under control. For now we simply use both legs to come back up. As long as you can lower all the way down on one leg under control, you earn your stripes for this level.

PROGRESSION 5: ROLLING PISTOL. ONE LEG DOWN. ONE LEG UP. WITH ALL THE CHEATS.

CRITERIA: 

–> Your working heal must stay grounded all the way down, and then (even more importantly) all the way up
–> You must land gently
–> Your front leg must be locked all the way down
–> Your working leg must dominate on the way up

WAFFLE

The next level: we start to come up back up on one leg (but on this progression you’re allowed to cheat your arse off). It has to be clear that one leg is dominating, but the hands and the spare leg can help you ‘cheat’. You’ll be surprised how many people need this at first. If you’re not used to Pistols, you’re probably not used to squatting below parallel…and it takes some getting used to I’m telling you -- and it takes some propere strength of course. Don’t get greedy with these, if you start missing reps and getting ahead of yourself, you may lose a kneecap or two — don’t say I didn’t warn you. Start cautious, only move on once you’re ready.

PROGRESSION 6: ROLLING PISTOL. ONE LEG DOWN. ONE LEG UP — BUT WITH HAND-ASSIST

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Working heal must stay grounded all the way down then, and particularly all the way up
–> Must land gently
–> Front leg must be locked all the way down, but we allow some sloppiness on the way up
–> ‘Spare foot’ must not hit the deck

From now on, only one foot is allowed to touch the floor, you got that?!

At this level, you can still cheat by tapping the floor with your hands, but your non-working leg is no longer permitted to help you. Use your arms to help all you like at this level (they can only do so much), but the more you use them, the harder you’ll find the transition to the next level!…

PROGRESSION 7: ROLLING PISTOL. FAST.

CRITERIA: 

–> Working heal must stay grounded all the way down then, and particularly, all the way up
–> Bum must land gently
–> Front leg must be locked all the way down, but we allow some sloppiness on the way up
–> ‘Spare foot’ must not hit the deck
–> Hands must not hit the deck
–> Both legs must be able to do this to pass the rung

WAFFLE

To me, there are two main points of pure joy as you climb this progression ladder, two fundamental moments, two times you ‘cross the Rubicon’. The first being right here. The second when you finish the ladder.

This step is the first time where you drive all the way up from the bottom of a Pistol Squat to the top with just your woking leg. Sure you’re using the momentum from the roll so it’s not a real Pistol, but it’s still an impressive move that only pretty strong folk can do! Once you’ve got this down, you know it’s just a matter of time and practice until you no longer need the momentum.

PROGRESSION 8: ROLLING PISTOL. MEDIUM SPEED.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Speed of roll must be ‘medium’ (judge's decision final)
–> Working heal must stay grounded all the way down then, and particularly all the way up
–> Bum must land gently
–> Front leg must be locked all the way down, but we allow some sloppiness on the way up
–> ‘Spare foot’ must not hit the deck
–> Hands must not hit the deck
–> Both legs must be able to do this to pass the rung

Slower roll, easier to control, but more brute strength required. Accept it. Battle through it. The slower you can do it, the closer you are to real Pistol Squats.

PROGRESSION 9: ROLLING PISTOL. SLOW.

CRITERIA: 

–> Speed of roll must be so slow that it looks a bit silly, like it’s not helping you at all (but we know it is).
–> Working heal must stay grounded all the way down then, and particularly all the way up
–> Bum must land gently
–> Front leg must be locked all the way down, but we allow some sloppiness on the way up
–> ‘Spare foot’ must not hit the deck
–> Hands must not hit the deck
–> Both legs must be able to do this to pass the rung

WAFFLE

Get that roll as slow as you can as you need to be ready to lose the roll on the next progression. I know it’s a bit subjective this, but to pass this stage of the ladder, you must be able to demonstrate 3 clearly different speeds of Rolling Pistol Squats.

PROGRESSION 10: ROLLING PISTOL. WITH DEAD STOPS.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> You must stop dead for a freeze-frame on the way back up.
–> Working heal must stay grounded all the way down then, and particularly all the way up
–> Bum must land gently
–> Front leg must be locked all the way down, but we allow some sloppiness on the way up
–> ‘Spare foot’ must not hit the deck
–> Hands must not hit the deck
–> Both legs must be able to do this to pass the rung

On this progression, you still roll back but you pause on the way up so that you don’t use any momentum. This takes another level of strength again, the dead-start strength to drive ‘out of the hole’ (as they say) and squat all the way back up.

Once you can do this, there’s only two final elements you need for a real Pistol Squat. Mobility and balance (oh, and a straight front leg! — 3 more elements then). Some will have this already, and the rest will be a mere formality; others folks though, will have to practice long and hard to develop the mobility and control to do the real thing repeatedly.

PROGRESSION 11: ACTUAL PISTOL SQUATS.

CRITERIA: 

–> Must stop dead at the bottom for a freeze-frame moment
–> Front leg must remain straight throughout
–> Must not fall on arse
–> Full range of motion must be used

WAFFLE

Here we are then, the final stage and the final rung of this ladder (for now at least), this is the much coveted Pistol Squat. Here you have to have the strength and control to squat all the way down (arse to calf), pause, and then power back up.

Once you can do that…congrats! You got a full Pistol. Be the person who can do a lot of reps of this, and there’s not doubt about it, you’ll have great legs. Unless they’re fat — then switch your focus to your food!

If you get stuck at this level then make sure you have a good L-Sit so that you can keep your spare leg straight, then work hard on your ankle and hip mobility to stop you from falling over backwards! This stuff matters.

COPYRIGHT -- MORE-ATHLETIC LTD -- 2018 -- WHATEVER

MORE-ATHLETIC BODY

--> TRAIN WITH US.

--> GET BETTER RESULTS.