Bodyweight exercises have become more common since the closing of gyms and pistol squats are an excellent way of maintaining or building leg strength if you don’t have access to weights.
They target the glutes, quads and hamstrings while also forcing you to engage your core to stay balanced.
Comparing yourself to the perfect example of a pistol squat can seem disheartening because it’s a difficult movement to get right when you’re new to it, but everyone is capable of honing their technique.
Here, Built for Athletes runs through the steps you can take to improve your pistol squat and maximise gains.
How To Perform The Perfect Pistol Squat
Reviewing the technical phases of an exercise might seem like a chore, but bad habits can creep in over time so it’s a good idea to regularly refresh your mind of the ideal set-up.
For a pistol squat, start with the toes on your standing leg pointed forward or slightly rotated out, and extend your other leg forward until the quad is flexed.
Keep your core tight as you squat down, shifting your knee over your toes and getting as low as you can go. Reach your hands forward to help stay balanced.
Stabilise at the bottom so your weight is evenly spread across your foot and your torso is leaning forward slightly, and then squat back up by pressing your leg through the floor.
Perfect Your Form Using An Anchor
Balance is the most difficult part of the pistol squat for most people, and if you fall into this category then allow yourself to anchor onto an object while you perfect the different stages of the movement.
Ideally you’d hold on to some TRX straps but if you don’t have any of those, the edges of a doorframe or a door handle work well. You can use anything you want that’s stable and won’t move as you put your body weight on it.
Try to only use your anchor for stability and continue to activate your lower body.
Use A Counter Weight
Another useful tip is to try holding a counterweight, like a kettlebell, in front of you to stop yourself falling backwards as you squat down.
Don’t use anything too heavy - the aim isn’t to make the pistol squat harder. You just want to shift your centre of gravity so you don’t end up with your back on the floor.