How to Progress to a Pistol Squat

Ah—the dreaded pistol squat. It sends shivers down the spines of even the brawniest brutes. But, as the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither is your pistol squat ability. 

If you want to progress your pistol squat, treat it like the girl or guy you’re trying to move out of the friend zone. Take your time. Be cool. Enjoy the process. Pistol squats can be yours if you’re willing to be patient, consistent, and hardworking. 

To make your life easier, we created a program to progress to a pistol squat. It’s structured and progressive, and it takes the pressure off of you to create a training plan from scratch. 

But for those of you who want to create your own plan, we’ve compiled a list of five perfect exercises to help you progress to your first-ever pistol squat. With each exercise you’ll see a video and a recommended prescription

These five exercises are targeted to help you build the strength, skill, and mobility necessary to achieve your pistol squat goals. 

  1. Feet Together Air Squats 
  2. Pistol to Low Box 
  3. Rig Supported Pistol Squat 
  4. Band-Supported Pistol Squat Negatives 
  5. Shrimp Squats to ABMAT 

Let’s dig in! 

5 Exercises to Help You Progress to a Pistol Squat

Feet Together Air Squats 

Why: If you want to progress your pistol squat, you need to increase your strength and mobility in the narrow squat position. The Feet Together Air Squat helps you build the musculature needed for an as-prescribed pistol squat, but doesn’t require nearly as much strength or mobility. 

Prescription: Perform 5-7 sets of 7-10 reps. 

Pistol to Low Box

Why: The Pistol to Low Box exercise allows you to slowly build the strength and mobility you need for pistols. And you get immediate feedback: If it’s too easy, drop the box height. If it’s too hard, increase the box height. Over time, your box will get lower. And then one day, the box will be gone! 

Prescription: Perform 3-5 sets of 4-5 reps per side. Challenge yourself. 

Rig Supported Pistol Squat

Why: To progress your pistol squat, you must perform full range of motion pistols. The Rig Supported Pistol Squat allows you to reach full ROM with as much (or as little) help from your upper body as is necessary. 

Prescription: Aim for 5-7 sets of 5-7 reps. Use as little assistance as possible. 

Band-Supported Pistol Squat Negatives

Why: In fitness, negatives rule. The Band-Supported Pistol Squat Negative is potent enough to make big changes in your strength. If you want to progress your pistol squats, then negatives need to be part of the protocol. 

Prescription: NOT TOO MANY! Negatives work on the eccentric portion of the movement, and will make you dangerously sore if done in excess. Aim for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps per side. 

Shrimp Squats to AbMat

Why: Don’t let the cute name fool you! The Shrimp Squats to AbMat will challenge your strength, mobility, and balance BIG TIME. These mimic the pistol squat movement pattern while removing some of the strength and mobility requirements. 

Prescription: 3-4 sets of 4-5 reps per side. These get spicy (and sometimes frustrating) so don’t overdo it. 

Now you know exactly what you need to do if you want to progress your pistol squat. And remember: If you want to take most of the work off your plate, enroll in our program to progress to a pistol squat. We provide everything you need. Just show up and do the work. 

Cheers to doing hard things. 🍺

Beginner Pistol Squat Program

Our Beginner Pistol Squat Program is designed for anyone who wants to get their first pistols. It’s an add-on style program—just perform the workouts before or after your current training sessions.