4 Steps to Mastering the Pistol Squat

Yesterday was a crazy day in Vancouver.

When it snows in Vancouver, a lot of people lose their minds. You get to see the entertainment of the day on the local news in the evening.

For me, yesterday my workout was shoveling snow and taking my dog for a walk. He loves the snow and goes crazy as well when he sees it.

Now for today, I got a great article for you on doing a pistol squat.

It is from Forest Vance.


Rick Kaselj


Hey Forest Vance here from the Body Weight Strong Program. I am going to show you a great progression to get your first Pistol Squat.

The Pistol Squat is an advanced one leg lower body exercise. It’s a perfect example of the type of movement that we use in the Body Weight Strong Program.

A lot of people can’t do the pistol squat but a lot of people actually have the strength and have the mobility and the flexibility to do it, it’s just a matter of activating the muscles at the right time using some basic tips and stuff like that.

I am going to show you the progressions that I have used with lots of people.

4 Steps to Mastering the Pistol Squat

CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video.

1# – Two Legged Squat

First thing that we will do is like a two leg version. A normal body weight squat you are probably somewhere around shoulder width apart and it looks something like this:

Normal Body Weight Squat

Normal Body Weight Squat

Pistol Squat is a little different of a movement pattern.

To get you adjusted to that, I am going to get you to bring your feet closer than hip width, almost touching. Knees are tucked in over the toes and you can probably grab a little kettlebell weight for this one as you practice and you are going to sit back and sit all the way down as you squat.

Two Legged Squat

Two Legged Squat

They might say, “Hey, Forest don’t round your back that looks crappy and you can’t squat that way.” Here’s the thing, your back is going to round as you do the Pistol Squat which is okay. The danger in rounding out your back is when it is loaded up with a weight, like in the back squat.

With Pistol Squat, it’s a little bit different. You are not using a huge external load typically. It’s okay to round your back. You are just going to do few of those and you are going to get warmed up as you sit nice and low with your two leg pistol squat.

#2 – Assisted Pistol

I have a suspension trainer right here. You will need a partner, somebody that you can hold on as you practice the movement pattern. It’s just going to be holding onto something and get yourself in position.

I am doing it with my right leg here. I put my weight onto my right leg and I am going to keep my eyes fixed on the point in front of me as I come up towards it during my movement. I am going to use the suspension trainer and help myself to stay in a good strong position.

Assisted Pistol

Assisted Pistol

I am going to sit back, bring my foot up and stand up. I got to make sure I breathe as I get back to the top. I am bracing my abs and I breathe out through my mouth as I stand up. Practice some of those assisted pistols squats.

#3 – Box Pistol

I am going to start by sitting on a box and standing up. I am going to sit down onto the box, the one I have here is probably a little bit high for me but it’s okay, it depends on how much stronger you are when you are starting.

Box Pistol

Box Pistol

I am going to sit onto the box and I am going to stand up and drive through that heel and then sit back with both feet. I put my foot up, bracing the abs and stand up and I am going to sit back down.

Again, those are the little progressions. We have the two leg pistol, the assisted pistol, and the box pistol. Now we are going to do the real pistol squat.

#4 – Pistol Squat

Pistol Squat

Pistol Squat

Same idea here, I am balancing on one foot. I am going to have my eyes focusing on the point in front of me. I am going to bring my foot up towards that point and take a breath in and brace the abs, sit all the way down and stand all the way up. That’s how your pistol squat looks like.

There’s a quick little progression, go through those 3 exercises. Make sure that you are mastering one before you go on to the next one. You can start working pistol squats into your body weight training program today.

If you liked this progression, then make sure to check out Body Weight Strong for more progression, exercises and workouts that require no equipment:

Forest Vance MS, RKC