How to do … Pistols

The pistol squat - also called one legged squat

The pistol squat - also called one legged squat

What it is

A pistol is a squat on one leg. As simple as that. As usual, you need to go below parallel (means having the knee below the hip crease) on the standing leg. The food/calve of the lifted leg cannot touch the ground at any point of the pistol movement. A rep is completed when the standing leg is fully extended. In contrast to the regular squat where we want to keep our back straight all the time, it can be rounded for the pistols. Also, it is allowed to hold on to
the elevated foot. 
 

Where the problem lies

The pistol requires, as any squat, sufficient hip mobility. For the pistol, the ankle mobility plays a key role also. In case of stiffness here, take time for a stretching routine.
 
Two more aspects might hold you back from mastering the movement: Balance and strength! Especially our "weaker leg" (for right handed people, it's most likely the right one and the other way around) might have to catch up before it can push up the bodies weight by itself.
 

How to practice

There is no "golden hint" for the pistol. The movement is not really complex and you can't overcome muscle weakness, stiffness and a lack of balance by any efficiency tricks. So attack your problems - best by performing a pistol in different scaling versions:
 
- squat one legged on a box - vary difficulty by varying the box height (the lower, the more
challenging)
- do a pistol with holding on a ring, band, rig leg ...
- elevate your heels on a small plate or, if available, wear lifting shoes
- hold a small weight in front of your chest, e.g. a kettlebell or small plate