In order to do a successful pistol squat, you have to have a solid combination of mobility, strength, and balance. If you're looking to add this new exercise to your current routine, use the following strategies to perform this movement without getting injured.
Are You Ready to Pistol Squat?
Let's check to see if you have the prerequisite mobility to take on this task. First, are you able to comfortably hold a deep squat?
If you're not able to hold the deep squat, you probably shouldn't be trying a pistol squat yet. Address mobility first. If you're able to get the deep squat, move on to the next checkpoint.
Can you remove one leg while in the deep squat and maintain balance?
If you can extend your leg out in front of you and hold your balance, you're ready to move on to the advanced pistol squat progressions. If you can't hold this position, use the strategies below to increase your mobility and start with the basic pistol squat progressions.
Just like with any squat, the biggest limitations to your depth is ankle mobility followed by hip mobility.
You need to be able to shift your weight backwards and ground your heel firmly to hit this movement. Think "hips back, knees out." Your ankle needs a lot of dorsiflexion so you don't injure your patellar tendon.
Basic Pistol Squat Progressions
Start with the basic pistol squat progressions. When hitting your pistol on both the basic and advanced progressions, make sure you're using these cues:
Progress by using the straps as little as possible
Progress by using a lower box.
Advanced Pistol Squat Progressions
Although it's always fun to increase your one rep max and get stronger in various lifts, trying to achieve a new skill keeps things fresh and shows you that there's always something new to learn.