How to do your first pistol squat and then 8 more!

This program gives you all the details of each step until you master your pistol squat with ease.

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Method

The first goal is to build up the mobility needed for the full squat.

This will be the key to your success with the more advanced skill you want to achieve at the end of this program.

If you still tend to fall backward in the bottom position of the full air squat or lose your balance otherwise, you should consider spending a few more weeks building up a proper full squat first. Allan Thrall posted a video on this.

Once you established a comfortable and stable stance at the bottom of the full squat, we will go through a four-step progression recommended by the Tapp Brothers. We are splitting the first phase in two and start with a supported air squat.

  1. Air Squat Full
  2. Chair Pistol
  3. Rail Pistol
  4. Elevated Pistol

During two weeks you will build up to a few sets of 8 and then 10 repetitions for each stage.

This progression will systematically build up the following fitness factors:

  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Rhythm
  • Strength

Don’t rush through the phases. It’s always better to repeat the same once again until you feel ready to complete each repetition of each set smoothly and with perfect form.

In the first phases, you should repeat the same workout three times in a week or on every other day. Starting from the chair pistol you can reduce to two workouts per week. This should give your legs and especially the knees enough rest to recover for the next workout.

Do only start your next workout when you feel fully ready and well to perform such intensive exercises. Stop working out immediately in case you should feel any kind of pain.

You can skip a phase if it is obviously way too easy for you.

Program Structure

WEEK 1: Air Squat Full

Three Times Per Week: Supported Air Squat

Start building up the required mobility to perform the full squat.

Basic squat cues apply:

  • stand shoulder width apart
  • push the knees out
  • sit your butt down
  • keep your back flat

Build up to 3 sets of 8.

Rest 1 to 5 minutes between each set or as much as needed to feel completely ready for the next set.

WEEK 2: More Air Squat Full

Three times per week: Air Squat Full

Increase the repetitions per set to ten.

Build up to 3 sets of 10.

Rest 1 to 5 minutes between each set or as much as needed to feel completely ready for the next set.

WEEK 3: Air Squat Full Hold

Three times per week: Full Squats Hold

Hold the position at the bottom for 10 – 30 seconds on every repetition. Establish a stable comfort zone at the very bottom of your full squat.

Build up to 3 sets of 10.

Rest 1 to 5 minutes between each set or as much as needed to feel completely ready for the next set.

WEEK 4: Chair Pistol

Two times per week: Chair Pistols

Perform a negative pistol sitting down on a chair behind you and get back up the same way.

Build up to 3 sets of 8 (each leg).

Rest 1 to 5 minutes between each set or as much as needed to feel completely ready for the next set.

Starting from this phase you will reduce the number of workouts per week to two to give your legs and especially the knees enough recovery.

WEEK 5: More Chair Pistol

Twice per week: Chair Pistol

Increase the number of repetitions to ten.

Build up to 3 Sets of 10 (each leg).

Rest 1 to 5 minutes between each set or as much as needed to feel completely ready for the next set.

WEEK 6: Supported Pistol

Twice per week: Supported Pistol

Support yourself with a rope, towel or something similar wrapped around a rail or door handle. Execute a pistol squat trying to depend on the support as little as possible.

Build up to 3 sets of 8 (each leg).

Rest 1 to 5 minutes between each set or as much as needed to feel completely ready for the next set.

WEEK 7: More Supported Pistol

Twice per week: Supported Pistols

Increase the number of repetitions to ten.

Build up to 3 sets of 10 (each leg).

Rest 1 to 5 minutes between each set or as much as needed to feel completely ready for the next set.

WEEK 8: Elevated Pistol

Twice per week: Elevated Pistol

Perform a pistol standing on a small block, rail or wall. Lower yourself down, if possible without touching the floor.

Build up to 3 sets of 8.

Rest 1 to 5 minutes between each set or as much as needed to feel completely ready for the next set.

WEEK 9: More Elevated Pistol

Twice per week: Elevated Pistol

Increase the repetitions to ten.

Build up to 3 sets of 10.

Rest 1 to 5 minutes between each set or as much as needed to feel completely ready for the next set.

WEEK 10: Pistol Squat

Twice per week: Pistol Squat

Perform a pistol squat off the floor.

Build up to 3 sets of 8.

Rest 1 to 5 minutes between each set or as much as needed to feel completely ready for the next set.

You got it – Congratulation!

Impress your friends with a pistol squat the next time you see them!

We would love to hear your experience with this programs too.

Exercises Used

References

How to Pistol Squat – 4 Beginner Progression Steps – Tapp Brothers on YouTube
How to Squat with TERRIBLE mobility – Allan Thrall on YouTube

Health Disclaimer

As always Fit Drills presents you this information for educational purposes only. We cannot take any responsibility for any of your training activities and recommend you to always discuss them with a professional fitness trainer.

Author: Fit Drills AG, Andreas Schneider

Last Updated: 2017-11-12