Pistol Squats: How to Progress, Benefits, Plus 8 Workouts

The single-leg squat is one of the most difficult movements to master and also one of the most common in CrossFit competitions.

Pistol squats are one of the most common movements in CrossFit, but one of the hardest to master. Also referred to as single-leg squat, this exercise must be conquered by anyone who considers themselves a CrossFitter.

Pistol squats are part of the what differentiates CrossFit from other sports. Just like a muscle-up and kipping pull-ups, if you see someone doing a pistol squat, that person is probably a long-term CrossFit athlete.

Just like it is common to see pistol squats on many WODs, it is also difficult to master the standards of the movement. Continue reading to find out how to progress to pistol squats, mistakes to avoid, benefits and also 8 WODs that has pistol squats in it.

How To Do Pistol Squats

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, keep your head straight at all times looking forward. Extend both arms in front of you and one leg. Bend the knee of the leg touching the ground and perform a deep squat with one leg straight in front of you. Try to bring the butt as close to your heel as possible. Use the strength on your leg to get back up through your heel and stand up returning to initial position. Repeat on the other leg.

How To Progress

The pistol squats will use up all the strength you have on one leg while also challenge your balance skills. The difficulty level is incredibly high, but there are a plenty of ways to progress your squat into a pistol squat.

First and foremost, you must build leg strength by performing normal squats, with both feet on the ground. Progress to air-squats, and then to the Bulgarian split squats, which will begin to look more like a pistol squat.

After building enough strength on your lower body, start practicing the different movements involved in a pistol squat. First, concentrate on the isometric contraction, by standing on a box with one bended knee, and lifting the other leg straight ahead (the final part of the pistol squat). After that, utilize the same box to perform the eccentric contraction which is lowering your body with one leg, and finally the concentric part (lifting your body).

You may use the box, or a chair, to assist you. Just perform the pistol squat as you normally would, but with the chair behind you to sit down on it. This will eliminate the deep squat part of the exercise.

Performing rolling pistol squats might feel like cheating, but it is one of the best ways to progress that your full strength before being able to perform the standard movement of the exercise. Just simply roll back to create momentum after squatting deeply with one leg, and use the momentum to get back up on one leg.

Now that you can perform the pistol squat, perhaps you are losing balance or is still unsure if you are doing them correctly. Two tips from WODprep can help you finish off any problems. The first is to grab your foot instead of just lifting it before squatting. The tension should help you maintain balance.

Also, you can step in before the squat. The momentum forward will help with ankle flexibility and balance your full body so you do not fall over.

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