Pistol Squats are hard but don’t take it from me.
“I’ve tried and tried to do a pistol squat over and over again, but I just can never get it. That’s for the elite of the elite” – Michael Phelps 21x Gold Olympic Swimmer
“EPO or no EPO, the pistol squat has been, and always will be, the elusive movement” – Lance Armstrong 7x Tour De France Winner (Drug Laden)
“My body hates me for trying it back in 1999” – Sir Bradley Wiggins Track/Road Gold Medalist, and Tour De France Winner (Drug Free)
“It’s driving me crazy, you see some people doing it with ease and you think ‘how the f*@k are they doing that!?’ I wanna be the greatest in the world at everything. And that includes the pistol squat” – Connor McGregor UFC
You heard it from these guys – unequivocally, it’s hard.
If you do want to try and defy the odds, and outperform the above novices then here is a few tips you can try.
I’ve split the two sections into ‘Mobility’ and ‘Working Activity’. Treat the Mobility portion as the necessary building blocks to perform the movement. Treat the Working Activity as more general steps towards greatness.
- Ankles – Often neglected, ankles are paramount to the pistol squat. Thoroughly roll out your ankles both anti and clockwise from the tip of your toes. Spend a lot of time doing this as your ankle will often be the first point to buckle if it does not have the the range to cope with the stress of your whole body.
- Hamstrings – This is crucial for the straightened leg that is coming along for the ride. You need to be able to keep your leg upright and outstretched. The most effective way to guarantee good hamstring flexibility is regular toe touches from a standing position, keeping your spine/neck neutral. Try and keep your knees as straight as you can. Hold your maximum position for 15 seconds, and repeat over time until your stretch position is as close to the heel of your foot as possible.
- Squat position – This will help you in EVERY physical activity you do. Hold yourself as deep into a squat as your flexibility allows. Keep your chest up and back straight, just holding this position repeatedly will help with your hip, ankle, knee mobility, whilst making your body accustomed to being in that position.
You will fail dozens and dozens of times at first and you will fall flat on your arse as it requires a lot of stability and balance to master. Try it in the gym between sets with your mates for a laugh, or even make it a competition. Have a laugh with it!
Find a pole, or a beam running from the ceiling and try the pistol squat whilst holding on, pulling yourself up and going down slowly. That will be a good way for your body to process the movement patterns.
I would recommend looking straight ahead into the distance, keeping your chest up and back straight, that will make it a lot smoother.
Just try it, and practice, you might surprise yourself and be better than some of the Olympians who definitely said those things about Pistol Squats.