Pistol Squats and other things that seem impossible....

Why don’t I have a pistol squat?


Pistol squats are basically a one legged squat, in which you stick one leg out straight in front of you, parallel to the ground, and squat on the other leg.  It is a fantastic test of balance, coordination, agility, strength, and patience.  It’s not something that you just walk into a box and can magically perform, without much practice, unless you are a certain “Megan.” 

But let’s talk about that.  Megan has amazing ankle flexibility, strong legs and hips which allow her to squat A2G, with her feet pointing nearly forward.  The human pelvis and femur have a wide variety of shapes and angles so that some of us need a wider stance, some narrow, and some cannot help but squat all the way down, while some never will. 

 Megan has good genetics for squats. 

That’s not to say that you don’t, it’s just that you might not have mastered the prerequisites, mentioned above.  So, let’s start with what a pistol should feel like at the bottom. 

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This requires a two-footed squat, at full depth.  Notice that the chest is connected to the thighs.  The pistol demands great balance and to achieve this, bodyweight must be evenly distributed.  Leaning forward towards the outstretched leg helps us get there.  By the way, the reason that I do not like to have athletes hold on to a pole whilst attempting the movement is that they will not lean forward far enough to learn to balance.

At this point if you notice, all that needs to happen is that the leg extend.  That’s the bottom position.  Now, just stand up.   

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It’s tough because the movement seems to contradict everything you have ever been taught about squatting:  hips back and down, chest upright.   Actually you fold in thirds when you squat, no matter what kind of squat you perform, but you do feel like you need to reach forward in the pistol.


To work on ankle mobility check out this:  This is a self-mobilizingMulligan technique.  Note that the band is placed BELOW the ankle bones (medial and lateral malleoli) in order to block the talus bone.   When we block the talus in this fashion, the tibia is free to glide as it should, improving our overall mobility and likelihood of pistol success.  



Happy squatting!


Many thanks to Megan  Miller and Kelly Starrett