It's no secret that I love one legged movements. We spend most of our athletic careers on one leg, whether its sprinting, kicking, or stopping. It only makes sense that we train that way.
At least once a week a unilateral (one legged) movement appears in the Work Of The Day. This week the movement is the pistol squat.
The Pistol Squat
The pistol squat is a one legged squat. It takes immense mobility and coordination to pull it off, not to mention strong quads. The actual movement may seem tough but their are some stupid simple progressions to achieving it.
Progression 1: The Pistol Box Squat
The box squat just uses a plyo box to limit the range of motion for the pistol. If you are just beginning use a 20 inch box. As you get more comfortable with this movement continue on to a smaller box. If you don't have any smaller plyo boxes stack some bumper plates up to your desired height. Keep doing this until your hips are below parallel.
This progression will teach you the coordination needed to balance and apply force through one foot.
Progression 2: The box step up
The step up progression allows you to feel the range of motion required for the box squat while still giving you support at the bottom. Not only does this build positional strength in the bottom but it also allows you to gain confidence.
Just like before it's wise to start with easy and continually making this harder. In the pictures above we used a 20 inch box. To make the movement harder use the 24 inch side and eventually the 30 inch side.
Progression 3: The banded pistol
The banded pistol is the final progression before moving right onto the full pistol squat. The band gives you extra support at the bottom. In this progression you must have the opposite leg raised to complete the movement, making it much more challenging.
As you get better at this progression you should decrease the tension in the band. The best way to do this is to just use a blue or a red band instead of the green one shown above.
All of the same mechanics that apply to a normal squat apply to a pistol. You should keep your weight in your heels, knee over your toe and hips below parallel. Hopefully these progressions help you master the pistol squat!