How To Do Pistol Squats: Work Up To The Advanced Single-Leg Move With This Trainer Program (Women's Health)
Posted: Apr 20, 2023 in In the News
This article originally appeared in Women's Health on April 20, 2023.
How To Do Pistol Squats: Work Up To The Advanced Single-Leg Move With This Trainer Program
By Megan Falk
A basic bodyweight squat may seem like nothing to sweat over. The movement is relatively simple to pick up since you perform it in your everyday life, whether you’re tying your shoelaces or picking up your dog’s toys. But once you try to do the exercise with one leg lifted off the floor—a pistol squat—the fear factor and degree of challenge explodes.
“A pistol squat requires a lot more strength, stability, flexibility, and, most of all, mobility to perform safely and correctly,” says Bianca Vesco, CPT, a NASM-certified personal trainer and fitness instructor in Nashville. “After all, you are using one leg to move your entire body weight as opposed to two.”
The benefits of the pistol squat make it well worth the effort. The pistol squat works practically every major muscle group in your lower half, including the glutes, hamstrings, calves, quads, abductors, and adductors. Plus, it can help you build the strength, balance, and mobility necessary to move optimally in your daily life and keep injuries at bay.
If those perks motivated you to try your leg at the pistol squat, keep reading for a step-by-step breakdown of how to do the movement with perfect technique and expert-approved pointers that will help you work your way up to the all-star exercise.
As a unilateral exercise, the pistol squat works one side of your body at a time. Doing that helps you pinpoint and ultimately correct muscle imbalances, says Vesco. It’s natural for one side of your body to be a bit stronger than the other, but significant disparities can lead to movement compensations and increase your risk of injury, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE). The pistol squat, however, will help your leg muscles become equal in strength. “Pistol squats specifically are one of the most challenging unilateral exercises,” she adds.
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