How to Do Pistol Squats

It's time to up your squat game. We'll show you how to do pistol squats, which are more complicated and demanding but very rewarding.
How to Do Pistol Squats

Last update: 12 July, 2018

You should always change your routine to avoid boredom and to work other muscle groups. If you want to work your legs, glutes, and thighs, pistol squats are one of the best ways to do this. Although pistol squats are a little difficult at first, with practice, you will become an expert in no time.

What are pistol squats?


They are also known as one-legged squats and they are not for beginners, as they require balance and strong quadriceps and hamstrings. The benefit of pistol squats include:

1. Better balance

To do them correctly, you will need to stabilize your body. To do so, you will gradually need to work at it to improve your isometrics. At first, it is very difficult!

2. Greater flexibility

Some strength training workouts do not take into consideration that flexible muscles perform better. As such, this exercise is great for lengthening your legs.

3. Stronger muscles

Even if this exercise just uses body weight, using only one leg will strengthen your lower body muscles. Naturally, this means more strength in your lower limbs.

4. Better coordination

Undoubtedly, pistol squats allow you to do other activities and move in a way that is more dynamic and coordinated. Changing sides and moving your legs and arms simultaneously can be complicated at first. However, once you master this, you will enjoy many benefits!

Performing pistol squats

Pistol squats are one of the stars of calisthenics, which is the branch of exercise that uses body weight. The main idea behind pistol squats is to support your entire body weight on a single leg.

Start out standing with both legs together. Do not forget to keep your back straight at all times. Lift your right leg and make it as parallel to the ground as possible. Bend your left knee and lower your body gradually. You can balance yourself by extending both arms in front of your chest.

Try to keep your glutes as close to the ground as possible, with your right leg extended. Hold this position for three seconds and slowly come back up. You will probably find it difficult to coordinate your movements and stay balanced at first. We recommend holding onto something vertical (a pole, a door, a vertical bar, etc.).

woman doing pistol squats in workout clothes

Pistol squat progressions

Have you mastered your pistol squat technique now? Congratulations! It is time to make things a little harder. How? By using progressions. Below are a few options.

1. TRX bands

These elastic straps are an interesting way to make pistol squats even more complex. Stand in front of the TRX band at a distance and take it with both hands. Perform the squats using the band.

2. Weight

You can use a dumbbell, kettlebell, or weight plate. Start out light and work your way up. Believe it or not, using one of these is good for improving your balance.

3. Balancing act

Just when you thought pistol squats could not be any harder, we hit you with another progression! Start out the same way as the basic one. Once your glutes are as low as possible, lean back on them and lower your back so that it touches the ground. To get up, you will have to roll forward…without bending the leg that remains in the air! Are you up to the challenge?

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The contents of this publication are written for informational purposes. At no time do they facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.