What’s Preventing You From Doing Pistol Squats?
Pistol Squat: A Very Important Exercise That Will Help You Build Muscle
How To Do Pistol Squats?
The first thing you need to do is to decide if you want to perform pistol squats or not. If your goal is to gain mass, then you must choose between performing pistol squats or other exercises such as pull ups, pushups, dips etc.
If your goal is to lose fat, then you have to choose between doing pistol squats or other exercises such as crunches, leg raises etc.
However, if your goal is to increase strength and power, then you will do better with pistols than any other exercise. So, it makes sense to start with pistols before moving on to other exercises.
Why Should I Perform Pistol Squats?
There are many reasons why you should perform pistol squats. They include:
They build core strength and stability. (See my post on Core Strength) They develop upper body power and balance. (See my post on Upper Body Power & Balance) They improve grip strength and hand dexterity.
(See my post on Grip Training) They strengthen the legs, hips, back, glutes, quads and calves. (See my post on Leg Training) They are functional and will improve your overall athletic ability.
What Muscles Do Pistol Squats Work?
There are many muscles that pistols squats work. They include:
Glutes: The Glutes are the biggest muscles of the body and pistols squats work them very well. Quads: Your quads get a lot of action during the exercise. Hamstrings: Your Hams get a lot of action as well.
Calves: You calf muscles are used to push your body up from the bottom of the squat. Lower Back: Your lower back is engaged when you keep your back straight and tight. Abs: Your abs are engaged to keep your body stable. Upper Back: Your upper back is engaged to keep your body straight.
How To Progres From Stick Pistol Squats?
How can you progress from stick pistol squats?
There are many ways to progress from stick pistol squats. They include:
Get a box or bench and put it behind you about mid-calf height. Put your feet back far enough so that your knees are at a right angle at the bottom of the pistols squat, and then rise up onto the box or bench. This will take pressure off your legs and make the exercise much easier.
You can also put the box or bench at mid shin level, just below the knee. This will make the exercise a lot easier as well. Turn your toes out. This will take some of the pressure off the inside of your feet and make the exercise slightly easier. Move your legs wider during the exercise. (See my post on Wider Feet) Turn your feet in. (See my post on Pointed Feet)
How To Do Pistol Squats Right?
How should you do pistol squats for best results?
There are two things you should do for best results. These include:
You should keep your weight back on your heals and try to stay as far back as possible without falling over. It is better to take smaller steps than bigger steps if you are having trouble with balance. You can bring your legs closer together but only enough to keep your balance.
Your knees must stay out during the entire exercise. If your knees cave in, you will fall on your butt and this is no good! Your lower back should be straight and tight (See my post on Lower Back). Keep your head up and your eyes looking forward throughout the entire exercise.
Remember to keep breathing and stay tight!
How Many Reps & Sets Should I Do?
How should you set up your reps and sets for pistols squats?
There are a few different ways to set up reps & sets for pistols squats. They include:
Do as many as you can with perfect form and then stop. Rest a minute or two and then do a second set. Rest a two or three and then do a third and final set.
Do a warmup set of 15 reps with light weight. Then do 3 sets of 5 reps with medium weight. Place your sets together so that you are doing 5 reps every other set.
Ideally you should choose one method and then stick with it from now on. This way you will get used to how it feels and the progress you are making.
I do one set of as many reps as I can with perfect form. It takes me anywhere from 3 to 5 sets before I can’t do anymore good quality reps. I rest 2 or 3 minutes and then I will do another set.
This is what works for me. You may find that a different method works better for you.
How Far Apart Should I Place My Feet?
How far apart should you place your feet when doing pistols?
You can place your feet anywhere from shoulder width to twice that distance. The closer your feet are together the more difficult the exercise will be because you will have less leverage and balance. The further apart your feet are the easier the exercise will be.
I prefer to have my feet just outside of shoulder width. This is what I recommend for a beginner. Once you master the exercise you can gradually move your feet further apart.
Which Muscles does the Pistol Squat Work?
The pistol squat will work just about every major muscle in your legs. Mainly it targets your quads, but also your hamstrings and glutes. However, it is not just a quad exercise. Your core will also be working extremely hard to keep you balanced and stable.
Do Pistol Squats Hurt Your Knees?
In my experience, yes pistol squats can hurt your knees. Your knees are not designed to bend that far backwards and if you have had problems with your knees in the past I would not recommend doing this exercise. Pistol squats may very well aggravate any injury you may have to your knees or joints.
Pistol squats are an advanced exercise and should only be attempted by people who have a solid background in weight lifting and are familiar with proper technique. Make sure you are warmed up properly before attempting this exercise.
How Can I Tell If My Knees Are Bad?
Unless you are an expert on the human body you probably won’t know if you have knee problems until after you start having problems. If you have had knee problems in the past you should not do this exercise. Also, if you hear or feel a “pop” when attempting this exercise you need to stop immediately. This is probably a ligament or cartilage popping and could present a bigger problem later.
How Do I Warmup For Pistol Squats?
The best way to warm-up for pistol squats is to actually do some pistol squats! Set up a chair in front of a table. Place one foot on the chair and then lean forward so you can place your other foot on the table. Hold this position for about 30 seconds and then switch legs.
Do three sets of as many as you can until you feel your legs are loose and ready to perform the exercise.
I have seen some people recommend doing leg swings back and forth and I have also seen some people recommend doing jogging in place. I have no idea how these would be effective in loosening your legs up. You might as well just start trying to do pistols if that is the case.
All these other methods of preparation take much longer than actually doing a few pistol squats.
How Can I Get Started Doing Pistol Squats?
If you are an absolute beginner you will need something to help you balance until you gain more strength and more experience with the exercise. You have a couple of options you can use.
The first option is to place your toes on a 2×4 that is sitting on the floor. This will be enough to raise your heels so you can bend your knees slightly more. Over time you will be able to place the 2×4 further and further back until you no longer need it.
The second option is to place a sturdy chair under your heels. You can then put your weight on the chair and not have to balance quite as much as you would without the chair. As with the 2×4, you will be able to place the chair further back and no longer need it.
Regardless of which option you choose make sure the item you choose is sturdy. You do not want to place your weight on something that is going to slip out from under you.
Where Can I Go To Do Pistol Squats?
This is probably the easiest exercise to do. All you really need is a chair and a table and you can go just about anywhere. Of course if you want to actually work out at a gym there are plenty of options that have machines and free weights that you can use.
Whatever you do, make sure you have space and that you have something to balance yourself with. It would be really unfortunate to try a pistol squat for the first time and fall on your face in front of a bunch of people at the gym.
What Other Kinds Of Single Legged Exercises Can I Do?
Once you can do 10 reps of pistol squats using the 2×4 or chair to balance you, you can move on to doing some one legged deadlifts. Using the same 2×4 or chair, place it so that your foot is just off the ground. Bend at the waist and try to pick up the 2×4 so that your leg is almost fully extended. Slowly lower the 2×4 back down.
Do not try to pick the 2×4 up too high. Start with just a few inches off the ground and work your way up as you get stronger. Keep your back as straight as you can.
This is great for your hamstring and your lower back.
As you can see, pistol squats are just one of many different single-legged exercises that you can start doing to help improve your strength and your physique. Incorporating these into your weekly routine (along with regular squats and deadlifts) will definitely help you build a stronger lower body.
Remember, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it! Be sure to include these in your routine. Happy exercising!
Sources & references used in this article:
Silencing the science on gun research by AL Kellermann, FP Rivara – Jama, 2013 – jamanetwork.com
Youth violence in Boston: Gun markets, serious youth offenders, and a use-reduction strategy by DM Kennedy, AM Piehl, AA Braga – Law and Contemporary Problems, 1996 – JSTOR
The Early American Origins of the Modern Gun Control Debate: The Right to Bear Arms, Firearms Regulations, and the Lessons of History by S Cornell – Stan. L. & Pol’y Rev., 2006 – HeinOnline
Guns, Extremists, and the Constitution by C Massey – Wash. & Lee L. Rev., 2000 – HeinOnline