How to Do Assisted Pistol Squats Properly

This is a variation of the standard squat. To do assisted pistol squats, do the following:

  • Set TRX straps to mid-length.
  • Facing anchor point, stand with feet hip-width apart and hold the handles in front of you. Shift weight onto left leg and extend right leg straight out in front of you.
  • Slowly send hips back and bend left knee to squat toward the floor, keeping your heel grounded. Get as low into the squat as possible without losing your balance.
  • Using your glutes, drive through left heel and use the TRX with arms to return to standing.

Aim to do this for 3 sets of 5 on each leg as a beginner. However, once you can do 15 to 20 reps on each leg you can graduate to a more intense variation.

This is a standard assisted pistol squat routine. However, there are a number of variations that you could implement in your own routine.

For instance, if you lack the TRX straps you can incorporate the things around you to perform the exercise i.e., a doorframe.

However, when you choose to use such an unconventional variation you should look out for the anchor point.

This is what will help you maintain proper form and give you a base to hoist yourself up and down

WHAT MUSCLES DO ASSISTED PISTOL SQUATS WORK?

As an exercise, assisted pistol squats work on the leg muscles as a general area.

This engagement is what leads to increased isometric strength within the legs and ensures you get unilateral training for the whole muscle block.

Some of the areas in the engaged muscle block include quads, glutes, calves, and hamstrings.

That said, the exercise that doesn’t just exercise the leg muscles as a block, it also engages surrounding areas.

For instance, in order to find balance while performing the exercise your core muscles i.e., the abdominals are specifically worked

ASSISTED PISTOL SQUATS BENEFITS

IMPROVES YOUR ATHLETICISM

If there was ever an exercise tailor-made for runners, assisted pistol squats are it. When running, you use a combination of lower body muscles and your core.

Coincidentally, this happens to be the target area for the assisted pistol squats. Furthermore, this is done in a full range of motion which adds flexibility to the mix.

As a result, this creates the recipe for strong, enduring runners due to a well-built muscle group consisting of glutes, quads, hamstrings, hip adductors, calves, and core muscles.

INCREASES LOWER BACK STRENGTH

All variations whether low impact or high impact require a certain amount of lower back strength.

Luckily, assisted pistol squats work the lower back thus strengthening the area the more you work it out.

ALTERNATIVES TO ASSISTED PISTOL SQUATS

1.      NARROW-STANCE SQUAT WITH COUNTERWEIGHT

To do this exercise, do the following:

  • Stand with your feet together.
  • Hold a dumbbell (10 pounds or lighter) out in front of you to use as a counterweight, which will help with balance.
  • Descend into a rock-bottom position while keeping your feet firmly planted on the floor. Avoid lifting your toes, rocking around on your feet, or raising your heels.
  • Stand up in a smooth and controlled manner. Resist the temptation to shift your weight and move into a different position.
  • Aim for 5–8 reps, keeping the reps smooth and controlled. When you can do that, set aside the counterweight and try it with just your body weight.

Once you can perform the narrow-stance squat for 5–8 reps, you’re ready to move on to the next progression. This is regardless of whether you’re using a dumbbell or not

2.      SINGLE-LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFT TO SINGLE-LEG BALANCE

  • Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
  • Firmly plant your right foot into the floor.
  • Extend your right arm out to your side and create tension throughout your arm, squeezing your hand into a fist.
  • Keep your head and spine in a neutral position and lock your gaze onto something that isn’t moving, preferably something on the floor several feet in front of you.
  • Keep your hips and shoulders square, hinge at your hips, and lift your left foot off the floor, raising it behind you as your upper body tilts forward.
  • Stop once you can’t push your hips back any further or when your upper body is parallel with the floor.
  • Reverse the movement to stand up straight.
  • As you stand, raise your left knee until your thigh is parallel with the floor and balance for 3–5 seconds on your right foot.
  • Aim for 5–8 reps per side, keeping the reps smooth and controlled.

 

This is likely to be high impact therefore, it might require easing into. That said, you can ease your workload by eliminating the most difficult portions of the exercise.

3.      ALTERNATING SINGLE-LEG BALANCE WITH COUNTERWEIGHT

  • Stand with your feet together.
  • With a firm grip, hold a lightweight out in front of you as a counterweight and create tension through your arms.
  • Slowly descend into a rock-bottom position while keeping your feet firmly planted on the floor.
  • Once you’re in the rock-bottom position, slowly extend one leg out in front of you for a few seconds.
  • Work to hold steady and eliminate any wiggling.
  • Bring your leg back to the rock-bottom squat position and extend your opposite leg.
  • Alternate legs, holding each rep for 2–5 seconds for a total of 3–6 reps on each side. When you can perform this drill, set aside the counterweight and try it with just your bodyweight.

Once you can perform the alternating single-leg balance regardless of whether you use counterweight or not, you’re ready to move on to the next progression.

ASSISTED PISTOL SQUATS MISTAKES TO AVOID

1.      DON’T TAKE ON TOO MUCH TOO QUICK

Assisted pistol squats are taxing to say the least. They also require you to reach certain levels of fitness to be able to do them without causing harm or overexerting yourself.

As such, you need to ensure that your body is conditioned to handle these physical demands.

Moving to more intense variations can lead to instability and lack of the necessary control of the muscles required. This could even cause injuries as your body is incapable of handling such strain

2.      LEANING TOO FORWARD

Leaning too far forward, then using your back and a rolling motion to stand back up promotes bad form. As such, this leads to bad form which reduces the effectiveness of the exercise.

3.      OVERCOMPENSATING

When we get tired, we often use other parts of our body to try and achieve the necessary movements. Whilst this is a natural response to discomfort, it still promotes ineffectiveness.

This is because you end up working the wrong muscles and neglect what should be engaged

overcompensating with other body parts which prevent legs from doing the work

CONCLUSION

Assisted pistol squats are based on gradual progress. Therefore, once you begin the exercise, go step by step and only progress to high impact variations when you’re actually ready.