Pistol Squat Progression

Pistol Squat Progression

The pistol squat is a highly challenging bodyweight movement common to CrossFit workouts. This exercise not only requires strength, but balance and a high amount of body awareness. For many, the pistol squat is too challenging to safely perform. 

"Analyze the Squat" Webinar

Barbell kettlebell

Free webinar sharing the simple squat assessment process I use to make athletes move better!

Powered by ConvertKit

The following are my favorite variations and progressions towards performance of a full pistol squat. Don’t follow this as a strict progression…some will find certain exercises easier/harder than the order I have them listed in. Whether you train high level athletes, or are in the rehab world, this progression will offer a challenge to a wide range of individuals.

Pistol Squat Progression No. 1/9 Split Squat.

The split squat is a lower level progression that can be performed by athletes of a wide range of abilities. Rings or sticks can provide assistance, or addition of weights can further increase the challenge of this movement.


Pistol Squat Progression No. 2/9 Reverse Lunge (with or without slider)

In the reverse lunge we begin to shift more weight onto the forward lower extremity and add an element of balance.


Pistol Squat Progression No. 3/9 Reverse Lunge with Foot Flat

The flat foot makes standing up much harder as the back leg cannot push as much.


Pistol Squat Progression No. 4/9 Reverse Lunge with Foot Off the Ground

This variation is slightly harder due to back leg not being able to produce as much force.


Pistol Squat Progression No. 5/9 Box Pistols

Varying heights according to athlete ability. Make the exercise harder by not putting full body weight onto the box.


Pistol Squat Progression No. 6/9 Box Single Leg Squats

The height of the box will really change the difficulty of this one. Have athlete tap the heel on the ground. This will prevent them from using that leg to push off as they stand.


Pistol Squat Progression No. 7/9 Ring or TRX Pistols

Use rings/TRX for balance help and for a little upper body assistance if needed.


Pistol Squat Progression No. 8/9 Pistol with Weights

Often times, holding a weight can provide balance assistance and make pistols easier.

Pistol Squat Weight

Pistol Squat Progression No. 9/9 Pistol