Pistol Squat Benefits – Achieve Unconventional Fitness!

Pistol Squat Progression – An Unconventional Training Strategy By Al Kavadlo Learn a series of progressions to reap Pistol Squat benefits. The Pistol Squat is a great exercise that will work your Quad laterals, Glutes, Balance, Core and Flexibility!

Pistol Squat with Al Kavadlo
First Progression:

The Bench Pistol Squat:

Find a park bench, chair or object that is roughly at sitting height.

  • Stand 6 inches upright in front of the bench. Put both arms straight out in front of you at shoulder height. Lift your less dominate leg out gradually away from the front of your body, trying to keep the leg as straight as possible. While starting the gradual leg lift, start a slow squat. Ensure that your arms are out in front of you at shoulder height this will act as a counter balance. While squatting, slightly lean forward, you will feel your core contracting.
  • Slowly  Squat down till your buttocks touches the bench/seat. Use a slight bit of momentum to lift yourself back up by rolling your buttocks back then forward on the bench.
As you progress, use little or no momentum to get back up to the starting Pistol Squat position.
Second Progression:

Assisted Pistol Squat

  1. Follow the same movement as the first progression, but this time stand in front of a pole-type object you can grab hold of. The distance from the pole to you should be roughly half an arms length.
  2. Start the pistol squat, but now walk your hands down the pole until your leg is parallel to the floor.
  3. Walk your hands back up to the starting position of the Pistol squat.
As you progress, lighten the load on your hands so your quads are carrying more load.
Third Progression:

Elevated Pistol Squat:

  1. Again follow the same movement as Progressions One and Two with a slight variation to leg positioning.
  2. Find a bench to stand on and gently squat down.
  3. Your leg that is not squatting needs to be at a 45 degree angle towards the floor, this will increase your range of motion and will distribute the load in your favor making it easier to get the movement non- assisted.
Fourth Progression

Counterweighted Pistol Squat

  1. Follow the same Pistol Squat movement as progressions One and Two, but now use a brick as a counterweight. This will help you to get the full range of motion for the Pistol Squat unassisted.
  2. The brick must be placed at arms length and held with both hands. Proceed to Squat – hold and move back up to your starting position. Your pistol leg must gradually make its way down and must end up being straight and parallel to the floor for a complete Pistol in the Squat position.
Final Progression – for ultimate Pistol Squat benefits

The Full Pistol Squat

Find a park bench, chair or object that is roughly at sitting height.

  1. Once you have the full range of motion from the Fourth Progression, it’s time to take the plunge!
  2. Start with your arms straight and out in front of you at shoulder height. Legs shoulder width apart.
  3. Straighten your pistol leg out away from your body above the ground at a 45 degree angle. Now, bend your squatting knee – and as you bend, lean slightly forward.
  4. As you Pistol Squat your pistol leg will start to rise up, as soon as your leg is level with the ground. Hold for ½ a second and gradually move back up to the standing position.

Before starting this unconventional training exercise, I would suggest stretching out the hamstrings as this will aid your pistol massively. When you go down into the Pistol Squat position, please take it slowly and listen to your body. If something hurts stop and revaluate! You don’t want anything going snap by being over enthusiastic or hasty!  Be gradual and precise and success will come to you. The Pistol Squat benefits and unconventional fitness results are worth the effort!

Check out the link below for a brief tutorial and more variations for the Pistol Squat and Pistol Squat benefits!

Al Kavadlo Unconventional Athletes



Al Kavadlo is one of the world’s leading experts in bodyweight strength training and calisthenics. Al has been featured in The New York Times and is a regular contributor to Bodybuilding.com and TRAIN magazine. The author of five books, including Zen Mind, Strong Body and Pushing The Limits!, Kavadlo is also known for his appearance in the popular Convict Conditioning book series. As lead instructor for the Progressive Calisthenics Certification (PCC), Al gets to bring his unique coaching style to fitness trainers and enthusiasts around the globe. 

Check out Al and his Brother Danny’s New StreetWorkout Book at: www.dragondoor.com