To be able to do a pistol squat, you to have single-leg strength and stability plus the needed mobility with your ankle, knee, and hip.
Can you get down fully and come up with your pistol squat? How about getting all the way down and then switching your feet?
Pistol Squat Challenge
The Pistol Squat is tough! It’s okay to fail so don’t be upset if you fall on your butt.
To find out why you could be failing, we recommend doing an assessment.
Take a video of your attempt and focus on your hip, knee, and ankle joints.
Adding a specific approach for a certain joint could be the secret sauce you were missing.
For example, the knee (tibia) needs to be able to internally rotate for a pistol squat. Many people will overlook this and think it’s all in my ankles.
To help with your knee and ankle mobility, you can utilize PAILs and RAILs to work on your end ranges.
Knee Internal Rotation PAILs and RAILs
Standing Ankle PAILs and RAILs
Another very common example of why someone might struggle with this is that their center of gravity is too far forward. If we start already leaning forward we can take away space at the front of the ankle and hip.
This is one of the reasons elevating the heels and using a slant board helps so much with squatting. If the center of mass concept is confusing check out this follow-along squat variation so you can feel the weight shifting back.
You don’t want to push from your heels but you want to be able to find them.
In addition to focusing on the joints used, you want to make sure your weekly training has something that is as close to a pistol squat as you can get. We recommended doing these regressions a couple of times a week to work towards your goal.
How To Achieve Pistol Squat With Regressions
To review, here are the regressions:
1. Slowly lower to a bench
You can start with both legs or a single leg. A goblet box squat stopping where your hip flexion ends is a great idea too because you can load it up to get more of a strength adaption.
2. Use a slant board or elevate your heels
This should improve your pistol squat right away. This allows you to challenge the knee and hip flexion more if your ankles are holding you back. This is huge for anyone with weaker quads also.
3. Add assistance to the arms with a TRX or rings
This is great for anyone who is strong but has trouble with stability. You can get more reps and stay stable with less effort. A weighted vest is another option to increase the load.
Find out which version is best for you by trying each regression and progress from there.
Be consistent and train in a progressive manner and you will have a pistol squat before you know it.
Keep showing up!
Our Elite Video Membership has some great classes that will help you reach the pistol squat by improving your mobility and strength.
If you prefer a program that is built specifically for you, learn more here.
Are you a personal trainer or physical therapist that wants to learn how to integrate strength and mobility? Our online Mobility Coach Plus course was made for you: