How to do Pistol Squats with a Chair

If we alternate this exercise with other leg exercises in our workout routine, we'll achieve more toned lower body muscles, along with other great benefits. 
How to do Pistol Squats with a Chair

Last update: 14 September, 2018

Pistol squats, or single leg squats, are a variation of the classic squat that requires both balance control and leg strength. 

In order to perform chair pistol squats successfully, you’ll also need to develop your flexibility and coordination. With the following tips you’ll be able to do professional pistol squats in no time.

How to do a pistol squat

As we mentioned before, you must do a pistol squat with only one leg. During this, you must stretch the other leg forward, and avoid touching the floor. 

pistol squat proper form

A good way to improve and maintain your balance is to extend your arms forward, as you descend using your leg. Keep the other leg parallel to the floor.

If it’s too hard for you to do a pistol squat, you may ask a friend to hold your hand as you descend, or you can hold on to a bar to help you with your balance.

Benefits of pistol squats

Pistol squats are the ideal at-home exercise, perfect to improve balance and strengthen the legs. This type of squat teaches the body to exert force through the entire range of movement in the leg, while also putting your ability to the test.

It’s an excellent movement to do at home, given that it makes you work on your strength without any equipment. Let’s see some of the benefits these squats have to offer.


Having to strive for stability by using one leg and both arms to maintain your balance, you’re  strongly encouraging the muscle development in this area. 

You’ll be working on your balance in a dynamic way, and you’ll be able to see a significant improvement each day you do it. Even if it’s hard to notice at the beginning, if you’re persistent you’ll be surprised by your progress.


In order to perform a pistol squat, it’s vital to have flexibility, especially in your lower body.

So, to do a pistol squat the right way, you need to keep a straight torso and avoid moving your center of gravity.

Once you’ve achieved this, you must also work on your hips and knee joints to help you descend more easily. If you don’t have much flexibility, you’ll need to work hard to reinforce it while you perform this exercise.


You’ll mainly improve your glutes and leg muscles, as these are the muscles supporting all of your weight on your foot.

You’ll create so much tension and as a consequence, your abs and lower back muscles will automatically strengthen. 


You’ll need constant coordination between the different parts of your body that are involved in performing pistol squats. Although it may seem easy, simultaneously doing the movements with your legs and arms is not so simple. But with hard work your body will quickly learn to move efficiently and perform the squat.

girl squatting at a park
By doing pistol squats you’ll work each muscle far more deeply, than with a regular squat.

How to do a pistol squat with a chair?

To perform a pistol squat with a chair you’ll need (of course), a chair–or any object that resembles one and stand it just behind you. The difficulty of this exercise depends on the height of the chair: the shorter the chair, the more difficult it will be.

Do the same movement that you’d do for a regular squat: keep a  straight back and torso as you lower down to touch the chair with your glutes

Once there, lift one leg, hold for a few seconds and go back up to your initial position. Finish this with one repetition.

What muscles are you working with chair pistol squats?

Chair pistol squats are a very complete exercise when it comes to the muscles you’re working. Although it’s not a complex movement, you’ll be working all of the following muscles:

  • Gluteus maximus
  • Quads
  • Thighs
  • Soleus
  • Hamstrings
  • Biceps femoris

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Carroll LA, Kivlan BR, Martin RL, Phelps AL, Carcia CR. The Single Leg Squat Test: A “Top-Down” or “Bottom-Up” Functional Performance Test? Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2021 Apr 1;16(2):360-370.
  • Dawson SJ, Herrington L. Improving Single-Legged-Squat Performance: Comparing 2 Training Methods With Potential Implications for Injury Prevention. J Athl Train. 2015 Sep;50(9):921-9.
  • Khuu A, Loverro KL, Lewis CL. Muscle Activation During Single-Legged Squat Is Affected by Position of the Nonstance Limb. J Athl Train. 2022 Feb 1;57(2):170-176.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.