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Mastering the Pistol Squat

Pistol head cut

The Pistol Squat is an iconic Freeletics exercise and, when done correctly, can be seriously beneficial for lower body strength and mobility. Often considered the king of lower body movements due to its movement complexity, Pistol Squats offer the perfect combination of strength, mobility and balance.

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Here are our top tips to find your balance and execute the perfect Pistol Squat.

Performing the Pistol Squat

A Pistol Squat begins and ends in the hips. Begin on one leg with the other outstretched at close to a 90 degree angle from your body. Try to maintain a neutral spine and an upright chest to counter the hip hinge that sends your hips backwards. Imagine that your spine is being squeezed by a corset; doing so will mean that your shoulders draw down and back, engaging your core.

As you lower yourself to a seated position, stay active in the hips and knees and keep your arms stretched out in front of you for balance. Aim to keep the extended leg slightly to the side and rotate your upper body slightly away from your working leg, keeping your heel on the ground. At the lowest point of the movement, your hips should be below your knee. Once you’ve reached this position, put extra weight on your standing foot and imagine trying to push through the floor until you return to a standing position.

Key points to remember

  • Rotate your knee out towards your little toe. This external rotation creates tension around the knee and hip joint and increases stability while also allowing the hip-joint to move, reducing the risk of hip impingements.
  • Keep your chest upright and spine neutral, but draw your shoulders down and back to lean forward slightly. This will stabilise your shoulder joints and spine, meaning that you’re well-balanced and maintaining good posture.
  • Keep your foot flat on the ground at all times, aiming to push evenly from heel to toe.
  • Aim to get your hips below your knee at the bottom of the movement. If this is beyond your reach to begin with, consider practicing the movement with Assisted Pistol Squats, using a bench, couch or resistance band for support.

Let’s recap:

Pistol Squats are a challenging lower body exercise that, over time, improve mobility and leg strength. As with all exercises, proper technique should always come before speed and quantity, so focus on perfecting the Assisted Pistol Squat before heading over to its big brother.

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