One is definitely harder than two, at least when it comes to how many legs you’re using to practice your squats.
A Pistol Squat is just a squat that uses one leg instead of two. That might sound like a small change, but it makes a huge difference in the level of difficulty that this exercise requires. By heavily increasing the amount of strength and flexibility you need, this exercise pushes the lower half of the body hard, but with excellent results.
The Pistol Squat is based on traditional yoga techniques. The only equipment that is needed to perform the Pistol Squat is the weight of the body.
Any movement done without proper form is going to be bad news for the body. Pistol Squats in particular are rough on the knees if attention isn’t paid to getting the form correctly. People with a history of knee issues will want to consult with their doctor before using this exercise.
Balancing Strength and Stability
This exercise requires you to balance your strength and stability.
If you compare it to the traditional squat, you’ll find that it pushes the muscles of the lower body, like the glutes and the quadriceps, much harder. It also leans heavily on the nervous system. Joint mobility in the hips, knees, and ankles are integral as well. Core strength is what brings it all together.
When you add that up, it means you’re improving muscle tone from the ankles all the way to the chest with the Pistol Squat. You’ll also need control in order to stay balanced, and a lot of focus. This is an intense, beneficial lower body super exercise that brings serious results with regular practice. Not many people can master it, but those who do reap the rewards.
Bring it All Down
The basic form for doing a Pistol Squat is surprisingly simple.
- Start in a standing position, looking straight ahead. Lift one foot off the floor.
- Tense the core muscles, align the spine, and roll the shoulders back.
- Lower into a squat, carefully extending one leg forward. Paying detailed attention to the movement of the core, listen to your body as you continue to go down and straighten the front leg.
- When you reach your limit, hold the bottom position for a count of two.
- Push back up, retracing the movement.
- Switch sides and repeat.
Note that the emphasis in this exercise is on balance and control, not necessarily on getting really far down. That will come in time and with practice.
P.S. Here are Some Variations on the Pistol Squat
Though the exercise is pretty straightforward, there are a few distinct variations on it that more advanced fitness enthusiasts can use to hone the skills and muscles developed by this exercise. Some of these variations are also helpful for individuals who need scaffolding along the way to master the exercise.
Here are some variations on the Pistol Squat.
- Assisted Pistol Squat – This variation is done with the use of bands to help with balance.
- Rolling Pistol Squat – This is a moving variation that’s sometimes used in martial arts. Instead of lowering down to get into the Pistol Squat position, roll up off the floor from your back.
- Elevated Pistol Squat – In which you stand on an elevated surface to allow the leg that’s stretched out to descend below the supporting foot. This one is a very challenging variation.
There are many other variations on this classic exercise. Always use caution when attempting any kind of Pistol Squat, as it is a precarious exercise that requires the development of balance. It’s worth working up to though, as this powerhouse exercise shapes the body and supports healthy lower body joint function.