One Legged Squat (Pistol Squat)
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ImageSubmitted by: Justin Leonard
Last updated: 11/6/2011

The one legged squat requires an advanced level of strength, balance, and flexibility. This exercise is sometimes referred to as the "pistol" or "pistol squat."


Begin by standing upright with your feet together. Place your hands out to your sides for balance. Lift one leg off the ground and slowly extend it forward. At the same time, begin the descent into the one legged squat position.

As you lower into the squat, bring both arms forward to assist with balance. At the bottom of the movement, the straight leg should be extended forward and elevated off the ground. Finish the exercise by squatting back up to the starting position.

The mechanics involved in a one legged squat are different than a regular squat. A person who can squat twice their bodyweight may not be able to perform the pistol squat. There are a few reasons for this. First, the weight distribution over the foot is different. The one legged squat is similar to squatting with your feet together. A traditional squat requires that the feet be shoulder width apart or wider. Second, a lack of hip flexibility will make it difficult to perform a squat on one leg. If your hips are tight, it will throw off the kinetic chain, causing you to go up on your toes or in the opposite direction onto your backside.

If you are unable to do this exercise, the best way to practice is to squat [on one leg] to a chair or box using the same mechanics. As strength, balance, and flexibility improve, you should try to progress to lower chairs and boxes. Within weeks, you should be able to master the one legged squat.
Step 1
Hands out to sides for balance. Extend one leg forward.
Step 2
Descend into one legged squat position. Move arms forward to counterbalance.
Step 3
Squat back up to the starting position. Repeat as needed.
Exercise Details
Leg Exercises ( view all )
Difficulty Level HIGH
The one legged squat (pistol) is a high difficulty exercise.
Target Muscle
Hip & Thigh
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