Single Leg Squat (Pistol)

Learn the very challenging One-Legged Squat, or Pistol Squat as they're known, for intensely working those leg muscles, the core and hip flexors whilst improving balance.

Primary Muscle Quadriceps
Secondary Muscle(s) Hamstrings
Difficulty Advanced
Also known as Pistol Squat, Single-Leg Squat, Pistols
Optional Weighted Vest

How to do One-Legged Squats

  1. Begin with arms extended out in front of your body.
  2. Balance on one leg with opposite leg extended straight in front as high as possible.
  3. Squat down as far as possible while keeping the elevated leg off the floor. Ensure your back is kept straight and the supporting knee pointed in the same direction as the supporting foot.
  4. Raise body back up to original position until supporting led is straight.
  5. Repeat for desired reps and switch leg.

One leg squat guide

Single leg squats are an excellent functional bodyweight training exercise that will develop leg strength, flexibility, improve balance and increase your vertical jump. 

The pistol squat is a very impressive exercise that few can do without dedicated training. It requires huge effort from the core to keep the back straight whilst lowering into a deep squat position.

single leg squatBeginning the one leg squat

When first training for the pistol squat it's important that you first master the traditional squat to learn the correct technique, and build up the base strength before training specifically for the single leg version.

It will take time to develop the required strength but it's a rewarding experience. Try the following techniques to gradually perform the full exercise unaided -

Partial repetitions - increasing the range of motion as you gain strength up to full range reps.

Assisted one-leg squats - a very effective technique using equipment such as resistance bandssuspension trainers, or gymnastics rings to carry some of your bodyweight and make the exercises easier to acheive (see suspended one leg squats for an example). 

Advanced one leg squats

To increase the difficulty of the single leg squat you can add additional resistance to the exercise with a weighted vest, weighted bar, or dumbbells.

As always, with strength training exercises add additional resistance incrementally for safe and continuous progressions. 

Exercise variations on the single leg squat


Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise.