4 Tips to Mastering Pistol Squats

Go deep with this single-leg squat that challenges your balance, strength, flexibility, and control.

By Alyssa Shaffer, Muscle & Fitness

Few exercises are as impressive as the pistol squat. This one move can work your strength, balance, and flexibility. “Any unilateral move, working one side or one leg at a time, helps you reach your full strength potential,” notes Megan Dahlman, C.S.C.S., owner of Dahlman Elite Training Systems in Aurora, OR. Pistol squats challenge the quads, but they also work the glutes, inner and outer thighs, and even the small ankle joint muscles; a strong core helps you put it all together, adds Dahlman.

A full pistol squat—in which one leg is forward and parallel to the floor—is great for advanced exercisers who have mastered the stability and balance elements. For the rest of us, a modified version done on a bench or plyo box will challenge you while you gain all the benefits of the full move.


Stand Tall

Stand on a box or bench that’s about at knee level. Let your nonworking leg hang off of one side, with your standing foot flat and your hips neutral.


Get Your Glutes Going

Hinge forward at your hips, pushing your glutes behind you. “It’s crucial to get your hips and glutes engaged so your weight shifts back and all the stress isn’t going into your knee,” Dahlman says.


Go Deep

Bending the working leg, lower hips while bringing arms forward for counterbalance. Your nonworking heel should just barely graze the floor, and your working thigh will be almost parallel to the floor.


Stay On Track

Make sure your working knee tracks over the middle of your foot, not to the left or right of it.


Get There

These progressions can help you build the necessary strength and balance to finally master one of the toughest mechanical moves in fitness: the pistol squat.

1. Split squat

2. Reverse lunge

3. Forward lunge

4. Skate squat (from a lunge position, keep back leg lifted so the foot stays off the floor)

5. Pistol squat on box or bench

6. Pistol squat on floor

See more at: Muscle & Fitness

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Men's Magazine: 4 Tips to Mastering Pistol Squats
4 Tips to Mastering Pistol Squats
Go deep with this single-leg squat that challenges your balance, strength, flexibility, and control.
Men's Magazine
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