2014-07-29 19.02.30

The full pistol or one leg squat is an advanced movement pattern that many would love to progress into and some even train to do. But somehow they never seem to be able to do it or if they do, it looks terrible and may lead to an injury at some point if they keep doing it that way. In light of that fact the goal of this post is to give you my reader some correctives to help you in your journey to a full pistol and to help those with ugly form improve their technique.

The few things that I will cover in this post are a few things that I have seen in my time coaching this move with clients and even in myself. So as always, try the move in this case the pistol, then do the specific corrective and then re-test the move again to see if it improved.

As with any move that involves this much complexity there are any number of things that could go wrong that can negatively affect this move. These qualities are: mobility, especially of the ankles and hips. There is also a need to master breathing specifically power breathing as well as ab strength. Finally, if none of those help it could be a motor-control thing and some re-patterning and regression of the drill could help take care of that as you work on improving this advanced squat.

Mobility:

Ankle:
Having a tight or restricted ankle can lead to poor pistol performance, in things such as: moving too much through your lumbar spine to make up for your ankle restrictions and or ending up on your toes and having a wobbly and later on a painful knee.

Below are some drills that you can use for your ankle to see if it helps you overcome this mobility deficit in your ankle if that is a problem for you.

In addition to these drills Goblet squats and practicing your pistol with a plate under your heel could help with this problem as well.

Hip flexors:
Tight and overactive hip-flexors can lead to crappy pistol technique. Use these two stretches and activation drills below to deal with this problem and then once again re-pattern the move with low reps and better form.

Tension:

Another important component of this move is the ability to create your own stability using an ab brace, power breathing and muscle tension. This increases your control and strength throughout the move and of course as you train this move, to decrease your usage of this ability to progress. The video below shows you how you can use the plank to develop this quality and increase your strength.

Ab strength:
Ab strength can be very helpful in owning this movement pattern as well as deep core stability. Use these two moves below to help build both in your program. I recommend doing the half-kneeling chop and lift as a warm up and the ab drills in your workout.

Counter balanced pistol:
Adding a counter balance on your pistol is a great way to help develop better form as you practice and it if you have a long femur, it could help you be able to do this move as well.

Heel lift:
If you have a bit of restricted ankle or lack core stability this regression can help you with being able to learn and earn this move. Watch the video below for demonstration of both.

Door pistol: 
this is one of my favorite drills to help my students achieve their full depth without overlying on an external help. This also requires that you create tension as a means to progress.

Box pistol:
this is another simple progression to build strength specific to the move and to pattern it as you train.

The next few moves are designed to help you build strength for the full pistol. Take a look at them and utilize them to help you build the force needed to help you get through the bottom to the lock out of the squat.

Step ups for pistol strength:

Split squats:

front squats:

You now have a good amount of information to work on and to develop the pistol. Get to work on it, try a corrective and then see if your form get better and stronger as you go along. I would almost recommend to get a friend or coach to watch you as you train and if you can’t do that, then you can video yourself to make sure that you are on pace to develop a pistol squat with good form for longevity and performance.

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