“Mastering The Pistol Squat” by Michel Davidson & Alexandra Bardales

“Mastering The Pistol Squat” by Michel Davidson & Alexandra Bardales

In the video below, Michel Davidson and Alexandra Bardales go over some key points and a progression you can use to step up your pistol game.  If that isn’t enough, they also included some cool tricks you can play around with to challenge yourself. The Pistol or single leg squat is a very challenging movement that requires  flexibility, coordination, balance, strength and a tad bit of patience.


Flexibility is probably the most important variable in executing a Pistol squat properly and comfortably.  Let’s face it; some of us aren’t as blessed as others when it comes to flexibility but thankfully, we can work to make improvements. Ankle flexibility and stability are huge players in . If you aren’t able achieve an appropriate degree of flexion in the ankle, your heel will lift off of the ground and you will be on your toes, which makes for an unstable squat that puts unnecessary stress on your knees. After a proper warm up, perform a bit of mobility work to loosen your ankles hips and supporting musculature. I will not turn this article into a “how to” for improving ankle and hip/squat mobility but if you need that information, there are great articles on both subjects here and also here. NoPriceCTA

Balance and Coordination

Balance and coordination are next on the list. It’s pretty clear that standing on one leg  for an extended amount of time isn’t easy, and neither is putting all of your body weight on a single leg, squatting to depth, and coming back up with ease. There are many factors that will come into play with trying to maintain balance during a pistol squat. Using your hands, grabbing your toe or foot, or holding a weight out in front of you as a counter balance are all good ways to assist you in making sure you don’t topple over. Practice is crucial.


Pistol w/ plate for counter balance


If you have the balance and flexibility you will be able to go into battle but not exactly make it out. One way to build up your single leg strength is to do some classic unilateral leg work.

  • Bulgarian split squats
  • front rack lunges
  • walking lunges
  • single leg jumps
  • single leg RDLs…and many others.

Lets also not forget that we can build our leg strength by just doing the very movement we are trying to achieve.  We can modify the Pistol and use assistance through bands or limit range of motion and obtain some stimulus without the full load of doing the true movement.

Pistol Progression


Pistol squat to a box


Bottoms up pistol


Bottoms up from box


Banded Pistol


Banded Pistol harness


Rack supported pistol


Pistol with plate under heel or weightlifting shoes



Use all of the modifications and tricks mentioned above to better your single-leg squatting ability.  Do the extra strength work to help you progress. Get to the point where you can do  pistols multiple times on each leg, and when you can…try out some of the tricks at the end of the video if you want to take your newly developed skill up a notch!