The pistol squat also comes under the unilateral umbrella, meaning it works one side of the body at a time.
Muscle gains will not be comparable to a bi lateral squat, however, working each side individually will highlight muscle imbalances and the need for strengthening the hip, knee and ankle – this is where the pistol squat comes into its own.
In my opinion, all strength training programmes should have unilateral work included in them. The Pistol squat will help to strengthen the hamstrings, quads and glutes in one movement. It places the need for stability on to the working leg, forcing those muscles to fire and work in harmony to develop the depth of the squat.
A full un assisted pistol squat takes time and a huge amount of practice, you can start with an easier variation and build up.
To begin with test your single leg strength but just standing on one leg, pressing your hips back, keeping your chest lifted and holding this position for up to 20seconds on each leg. Be careful not to push your knee forwards as this will place undue stress and cause knee pain. Try to maintain the natural curve of your spine whilst holding the position. Repeat 3- times on each leg.
If you find this easy you can start to add the squat in. Remember to keep your weight pushing into your heel as you lower yourself down. Try not to let your heel lift at the bottom of your squat. If you find this difficult, you can hold on to something to assist you lowering yourself down. I find this exercise is really useful for runners, especially those that have hip or knee pain either whilst running or post running. The pistol squat is great for re aligning and strengthening the stabilising muscles of the hip and leg. This exercise can also be used for rehab post knee injury or surgery.
When running, weight lifting, cycling or any form of exercise that uses the legs is performed we are using the stabilising muscles of the body without even realising. If these muscles are not strongeventually they will give up, which can be the time when the athlete gets an injury. Maintaining posture & unilateral exercises in any programme will have benefits! So don’t forget about these exercises when structuring your programme.
Over the last few weeks we have covered unilateral exercises that help to maintain balance, strength in the core, improved posture and stabilisation of the shoulders, hip and knee.
appy training! Kelly - Limitless Life personal trainer
For more information or how to structure these exercises into your workout please contact Limitless Personal Training and get a 1:1 booked in today!