How To Perfect The Pistol Squat

It takes patience, balance, and, most of all, practice.

Beau Whitman |

Perfecting the pistol squat requires patience, balance, and, most of all, practice. But once you’ve mastered the move, you and your quads will be ready to take on any challenge.

Related: Here’s What You Should Eat Before And After A Workout

This legendary move builds leg and core strength while challenging your balance and mobility. Master it — and sculpt giant quads — with this plan.

Week 1

Practice reverse lunges (stand, step back with one leg, bend that knee, and lower your torso) and split squats (from a split stance, lower your torso) on each leg.

Mon.: 3 sets of 6 (per move)

Tues.: 3 sets of 6

Wed.: 3 sets of 8

Thurs.: Do knee-to-walls: assume a split stance, one foot from a wall; drive your front knee toward the wall, then return to the start. That's 1 rep; do 5 sets of 6 per leg.

Related: Take On Our MH Friday Fitness Test: The 3-Rep Max Squat

Fri.: 3 sets of 10

Sat.: 3 sets of 12

Sun. Test: Complete 15 of each move per leg. Failed? Repeat Week 1.

Week 2

Try pistol negatives: Stand with your left leg on a 60-cm box or chair, right leg hanging. Bend your left knee until your right foot touches the floor. Using your left leg, return to the start. That's 1 rep.

Mon.: 4 sets of 4 (per leg)

Tues.: 4 sets of 6

Wed.: 4 sets of 8

Thurs.: Work on closed-feet squats: with your feet together, slowly squat as deeply as you can, then stand up. Do 5 sets of 10.

Fri.: 4 sets of 10

Sat.: 4 sets of 12

Sun. test: 1 set of 3 per leg, taking 3 to 5 seconds to lower yourself. Can't pull it off? Repeat Week 2.

Week 3

Tackle single-leg wall sits: stand with your back against a wall, feet about 2 feet away. Lower yourself so your knees are at 90 degrees; then raise and strengthen one leg. Hold for 15 seconds.

Mon.: 4 sets of 4 (per leg)

Tues.: 4 sets of 6

Wed.: 4 sets of 8

Thurs.: Do 3 pigeon poses: kneel and extend your right leg behind you. Bend your left knee, bringing your left foot forward. Hold for 15 seconds per side.

Related: Keep Up The HIIT This Winter With These Full-Body Tabata Workouts

Fri.: 4 sets of 6; descend below 90 degrees

Sat.: Same as Fri., but 8 reps

Sun. test: 3 wall sits (hold 20 seconds each). No go? Repeat Week 3.

Week 4

Do assisted pistols: Stand 2 feet from a TRX; grab its handles. Lift your right foot and straighten your right leg forward; bend your left knee until your butt nears the floor. Stand back up; that's 1 rep.

Mon.: 2 sets of 4 (per leg)

Tues.: 2 sets of 6

Wed.: 2 sets of 8

Thurs.: Try crossed-leg squats: cross your left foot behind the right (and rise onto your toes), squat slowly; stand up. Do 5 sets of 10 per side.

Related: Win 12 Personal Training Sessions With Virgin Active Worth R3,500!

Fri.: 2 sets of 10

Sat.: 2 sets of 12

Sun. test: 2 sets of 12 per leg; take 3 seconds to lower your torso. Can't? Repeat Week 4.

5. Go time!

To do the pistol squat, stand and lift one foot off the floor. Straighten that leg forward. Bend your standing knee; lower your torso until your butt nearly hits the floor. Stand back up. Celebrate.

Originally published on


READ MORE ON: bodyweight how to legs plan squat training workouts

Copyright © 2022 Rodale Inc.
Subscribe for notification