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Paleo Fitness Exercise: The Pistol Squat

The pistol squat is a full squat on one leg. It sounds simple, but, as you probably know, simple isn’t always easy — and the pistol squat is an undeniable testament to that fact.

The pistol squat requires not only brute strength but also stability, mobility, balance, and coordination. It’s not only a fantastic leg strengthener in itself but also a viable metric of your overall movement abilities. If you can do a pistol squat, you have gained a lot; if you can’t, you have a lot to gain.

You can do the pistol squat with or without weight. Often, people find the pistol squat is more accessible when they’re allowed to hold a small weight out in front as a counterbalance. Experiment and see what works best for you. Follow these steps for the pistol squat:

1

Assume a shoulder-width stance and extend your arms out in front as a counterbalance.

If you choose to weight the pistol squat, hold it in the goblet or rack position.

2

Lift one leg straight up off the ground; the higher you can get it up, the better.

Try to keep your elevated leg fully extended out in front of you throughout the entire movement. It may even help to keep your toes pointed straight up. Also, be sure to start with your working leg heel on the ground.

3

Begin to squat down as low as you can on one leg while keeping your heel on the ground, your knee in line with your toes, and your back as flat as possible.

If you keep falling on your butt, try holding a light weight out in front of you to act as a counterbalance.

4

When you hit rock bottom (if you’re able), push your heel hard into the ground and drive your hips forward to stand up.

The pistol squat — serves as one of the best single-leg bodyweight exercises in existence for strengthening the lower body.

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