Anyone who has attempted and mastered the squat will vouch for how demanding this simple bodyweight exercise can be. The standard two-legged squat and its many variations work on our gluteal muscles, quadriceps, hip muscles, and calves, and are an excellent way to reinforce the lower body and prevent common athletic injuries.

 

Now, imagine squatting on just one leg, while the other stays off the ground and stretched out in front of you. Yes, it’s exactly as difficult as it sounds. The Pistol Squat is an advanced one-legged squat that, apart from being a cool party trick, also works on nearly every muscle in your legs as well as the glutes. It also corrects strength imbalances in the body and add to our overall sense of balance and flexibility. Moreover, the effect it has on one’s hamstrings, quads and core also leads to faster and consistent fat-burning for the entire body.

 

It must be noted that pistol squats are not for beginners, and it will seem impossible without first working your way up to stronger thighs, knees and hamstrings. We would advise that you continue training with regular squats, deep squats and continue leg exercises before giving it a shot.

Step-by-step:

  • Start by standing upright with your left foot flat on the floor flat and the right leg outstretched in front of you, ideally at hip level.
  • Squat down as slowly and gently as possible, trying to go as low as you can.
  • At your lowest, try and ensure that you’re engaging your glutes to sit back. This will allow you to use the full strength of your legs when you’re rising back into upright position. Hold the squat for a few seconds.
  • Now, rise up very slowly – your leg and glutes when properly engaged will provide the balance to do so without falling on your face.
  • It is recommended that you stretch your arms out in front of you on your first few attempts as it will add to your balance. With so much of your weight shifting back onto one leg, your upper body and arms can help keep the weight spread out.

 

This is one repetition. Follow the same process with your left foot off the ground.

 

Pro-tip:

  • Holding a weight plate in your hands or a very light dumbbell in each hand for balance can be tremendously helpful for this squat.
  • Ensure that your back remains straight all the time and that the sole is firmly planted on the ground.
  • It’s important to progress your way to a pistol squat by first warming up with basic squats, followed by variation of one-legged squats, as well as bench, weighted and assisted pistol squats.

 

Compared to the standard two-legged squat, pistol squats can be a lot more challenging for your lower-body muscles, your core, and your nervous system as well. They require much of the determination, balance, and co-ordination that come with advanced yoga poses, and plenty of flexibility, especially in the hips, knees and ankles. Adequate warm ups including several basic and varied squats, as well as ankle and hamstring stretches, are crucial before beginning your pistol squat routine.

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