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How to: Do Single Leg Squat


Single leg squat - or a "pistol"

Name:  Single Leg Squat

Also known as:  Pistols

Main muscles used:  Legs, bum.

Other muscles used:  Hip flexors.

Top tips:

  • Use only 1 leg at a time, but make sure you do equal work on both legs.
  • Keep the heel of the supporting foot planted firmly on the floor.
  • Sit your bum back and down.
  • Tilt forwards from the hips as much as you can and use your arms to help keep your balance.
  • Help keep your balance by holding onto a wall/door/pillar etc.
  • If you have trouble keeping the other leg horizontal out in front of you, try doing these standing on a step, so you don’t need to lift your leg up so high.
  • Keep your chest sticking up and out as much as you can.
  • When trying to get back up, don’t think about straightening your leg.  Think about trying to push the floor away as hard as you possibly can, through your heel.
Single leg squat – or a “pistol”

Common mistakes:

  • Supporting heel coming off the floor, as the foot rolls onto its toes.
  • Not sitting the bum back into the squat.  You will never get low unless you stick your arse out.
  • Giving up when it goes wrong the first few times.  This move is difficult.  Just keep trying.
  • Waggling the supporting knee all over the place as you go down/up.


As I mentioned above, this move is difficult.  Dont even think about trying it unless you are totally rock solid with the standard bodyweight squat.  Remember, the strength needed for this is effectively double that of the standard bodyweight squat, and I haven’t mentioned the balance aspect that makes it harder still.

For it to work, quite a few things need to come together.  These include strength in the lower half of your body, strength and stability in your ankle and knee joints, flexibility around the hip joint, balance and confidence.  So this is another example of a Keystone Ability.

If you can’t do this at first, try to identify your weak point.  Are you most lacking in strength, balance, flexibility?  Once you know your weak spot, use more traditional methods to improve it, and then attempt the single leg squat again and see how you are progressing.  Good luck!

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