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Pistol Squat – Progression Video Tutorial & Form Guide

By: Stuart Carter, Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1,

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

man and woman performing a pistol squat
The Pistol Squat is a fantastic lower body exercise that works your quads and your glutes, but also helps to strengthen your ankles and improve your balance.

Pistol SquatPistol Squats are hard… there's no denying it, which is why this is a progression tutorial.

This will help you, step-by-step, nail your pistol squats in no time.

Starting out, you need to make sure you have enough ankle mobility to hit the bottom of the movement with the correct form.

If you find your toes going forward of your knee, you should stretch both calf muscles (Soleus and Gastrocnemius), as well as completing ankle mobilization exercises.

Next, you should make sure to strengthen your Gluteus Medius, which is the smaller glute muscle that controls the raising and lowering of your hips.

You can strengthen this by completing step-downs, which are explained in the video below.

Lastly, you should work on the top part of the exercise, where you fire up, by performing a limited motion pistol squat with a chair behind you.

To learn all of these finer progression points, you should watch through the whole video below, where I guide you through the exercise in its entirety.

If you need something to print off and take to the gym as a reminder, the step-by-step exercise technique is further down this page.

How to do a Pistol Squat – Step-by-step exercise technique

    • Step 1: Stand with a shoulder width stance, with your head up, shoulders back, core tight and a neutral curve in your spine. Place one leg out in front of you and get your balance.
    • Step 2: Breathing in, bend the knee of your standing leg and push your hips back, lowering yourself down into a fully squatted position, keeping your weight back on your heels.
    • Step 3: Breathing out, push through your heels to raise back into the start position, maintaining the good upright position and strong balance.
    • Step 4: Repeat until you have completed the prescribed number of reps, then switch legs and complete for that side too.

To learn more exercises that you can use in your training, visit our exercise library on our Fit Father Project YouTube channel.


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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info into pistol squat progression.


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