Top 5 Pistol Squat Mistakes (and how to fix them)

Top 5 Pistol Squat Mistakes

Single leg work is very important and I think a lot of people don’t do enough of it.

Most people focus on regular squats.

One great single leg exercise is the pistol squat.

It is an advance single leg exercise.

Yesterday, Forest Vance had an article for you on some mobility exercises that would help the pistol leg squat. Today he has some mistakes to avoid and fixes when doing the pistol leg squat.


Rick Kaselj, MS


The pistol squat is one of those exercises that just about everyone wishes they could do.  It’s a movement that takes a combination of strength, mobility, balance, and coordination.

Now if you’re new to the pistol and are at all like me when I first started learning how to do them, your journey so far has gone something like this:

  • see the exercise on the internet, looks cool, wish you could do it
  • try it
  • fail miserably and fall on your butt
  • wonder what you are doing wrong, and how to fix it

Today, I want to help you. I’ve taught hundreds of folks how to do a pistol squat over the last few years, and here are the top 5 mistakes I see with the exercise – and how to fix them:

Mistake #1 – Ignoring Your Heel

Your heel of the down leg comes up into the air and/or your foot comes up on to the toes.

Fix: Your ankle mobility needs improvement.  A good place to start would be with mobility drills and/or self myofascial release, like I go through in this video:

CLICK HERE to watch the video on YouTube

 Mistake #2 – The Wobbles

You feel like you’re losing your balance during the movement.


Fix: Learn how to grip the ground and use the floor for balance.  Do more pistols (and other exercise in general) barefoot.

Mistake #3 – Your Hip Flexor is Acting Up

Your hip flexors on the extended leg cramp up during the movement.

Fix: Work on your hip flexor strength.  The hanging leg raise (and progressions working up to it) is a great exercise to start with to work on that.  (We show you how to do this exercise in the Body Weight Strong 2.0 program)

Mistake #4 – You Fall Back

You fall backwards to the floor at the bottom of the move.

Fix: Work your assisted pistol squats with suspension trainer/etc. and gradually decrease the amount of help you give yourself with your upper body.

Mistake #5 – Collapsing At the Bottom

You can’t control the decent, and end up collapsing into the bottom.

Fix: Try doing slow negatives into the bottom with a light counterweight held out in front of you at arm’s length.


So there ‘ya go – the top five pistol squat mistakes, and how to fix them.  And don’t forget – PRACTICE these skills and drills daily (but don’t over-do it) if you want to get better at them as fast as possible.

Train hard, and talk soon –

If you want a full 12 week program to get you from where you are now to body weight STRONG in 12 weeks flat, CLICK HERE 


Forest Vance, MS

 P.S. – If you liked the above article, you will like these as well: