If there’s one exercise that has made me more friends in the gym than any other, it’s the pistol squat. Also known as the single leg squat, the pistol is the singular movement that everytime I work them in the gym, there’s a very good chance that someone will approach me and comment. Usually, they are either asking me why I’m doing them or lamenting about how they probably can never do them because of some excuse.
When I used to frequent a Boulder gym, I think maybe every six months or so I would see another person doing pistols. But now that I’m in Denver, at a similarly large big box gym, I have seen exactly (count it) zero people doing pistols. I think it really is the rarest exercise.
And yet, it’s relatively common for the resident trainers to coach their clients on a TRX-supported single leg quarter squat. Presumably, the first step in a progression towards a true bodyweight pistol squat, but they never seem to take their clients any further.
Truth is, very, very few personal trainers can do a pistol themselves. Ask your trainer next time to show you one if you don’t believe me. In my experience, a lot of yoga instructors come close, and can knock out one or two pistols, but they lack the strength to really maintain some good dynamic stability.
It’s a shame that more people aren’t working towards a good looking pistol. It’s a great way to build upon your body control – self dominance in Ido Portal parlance. It will also keep your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back in good working order. And from a soft tissue perspective, to get the full depth that a pistol demands, you’ll keep good tonicity and movement in your glutes and quads.
In short, if you can perform a pistol squat, your lower body is in good shape.
So, what’s your excuse?
Let’s work together to make the pistol a little less rare.