Exercise of the Month: Pistol Squat

Benefits of a Pistol Squat

It is an extremely challenging exercise that requires very strong leg muscles, a high level of balance, and a good degree of flexibility. Due to the outward leg being used as a counter balance, you can really work the full range of muscle contraction.


  • Isolation of each leg for balancing strength deficits
  • Full range of muscle recruitment
  • Improves the posterior chain strength
  • Increase general flexibility and mobility along the posterior chain.
  • Increases ankle joint mobility and flexibility.
  • Improves balance


Start by standing on one leg, with the toes pointed forward and/or slightly turned out. This is a matter of personal preference and balance. It’s important that the knee is bent in the same direction as the toes, so that the knee tracks over the second toe. This helps to decrease shearing forces on the knee. Make sure to grip the floor with the foot for a solid base. With the front leg flexed and the foot pointed in front, engage the core and hip flexors to get ready for the descent. It’s helpful to reach with both hands straight in front, to add a counterbalance to the body weight. Holding a light weight plate works well here. With the weight of the body evenly distributed over the foot that’s on the ground, carefully sit back into a squat, making sure the torso has a slight forward lean. If the heel raises up from the floor, this may show a lack of hip or ankle mobility or the hips and not sitting back enough. Address these issues before attempting pistol squats or regress the movement. While in the deep squat position, use single-leg strength to press through the floor, engaging the core to allow for maximal effort. Apply pressure into the entire foot and stand up straight. Be sure to come to a standing position and reset before the next rep, as this will help make sure of a good starting position.


  • Reverse lunge descent with support
  • Bottom-up box/bench pistol
  • Top-down box/bench pistol
  • Top-down box/bench pistol
  • Band assisted pistol

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