Pistols squats are a cool looking exercise and they have certainly gained popularity over the past few years what with social media thing. And rightfully so. They are a test of awesome single leg strength and demand quite a bit of mobility at the same time. The latter being the exact reason I dislike pistol squats for most people. Many people may be strong enough but the exercise becomes too hard based on the requisite mobility required. Just look at the above figure. I think it’s hard to argue that adding additional load, the kettlebell in this case, to that spinal position, is a good idea. And, unfortunately, more often than not people will more closely resemble the image above, rather than one with a better spinal position that simply, looks better.
So should you just keep hammering away at that mobility with the hopes of some day nailing the pistol? Nope. “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
There are two answers. The first is the 1-leg squat pictured below.
This is obviously very similar but without the requirement to keep the straight leg above the height of the floor you can bet that back posture will improve. I won’t make any empty promises that this will work in absolutely every instance but it is likely that more people will have success with this style. And by success I mean that it will look a lot better.
Option #2 is the airborne lunge. I have written about in the past. (HERE)
Sure this movement is more hip dominant and might more closely resemble a deadlift than a squat but if your goal is to train on one leg and get strong at the same time I can promise you the airborne lunge will get it done. As in the above scenario, the airborne lunge doesn’t demand as much mobility as the pistol squat and is damn effective at the same time. Again, more people, more success.
Make it look easy.
– Mike Baltren