Move over crunches! Try pistol squat to tone your core muscles


Squats are a great exercise that helps tone your lower body as well as your core muscles. They enhance your posture and improve flexibility. While there are many different types of squats, the pistol squat has become extremely popular these days. A pistol squat is a single-leg squat where one leg is extended forward while squatting down on the other leg. It requires balance, strength, and flexibility. Here are some of the benefits of pistol squats and how to perform it properly.

What is a pistol squat?

“The pistol squat, also known as the one-legged squat, is a difficult lower-body workout that includes lowering your body to a complete squat posture while balancing on one leg, with the other leg extended straight out in front of you. It requires significant strength and firmness in the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles. You will also need to maintain stability and balance throughout the exercise,” says fitness expert Yash Agarwal.

What are the benefits of pistol squats?

Here are some of the notable benefits of pistol squats that you should know:

1. Less pressure on the back

“The conventional barbell back squat places weight on the shoulders and back. If performed incorrectly, it can cause injury. However, the pistol squat is a bodyweight exercise that does not put too much pressure on the back. If weightlifting is too hard, incorporating pistol squats is a great option. They make your muscles work hard without needing any weights,” explains the expert.

2. Strengthens lower body muscles

Targets quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, improving muscle strength and endurance. A study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science suggests that incorporating pistol squats or single-leg squats helps to strengthen and tone your glutes. However, more research is needed to determine whether it strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.

Pistol squat will help you tone your core. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Helps develop core strength

Are you searching for an effective workout that helps you develop core muscles? Try pistol squats. “Practising pistol squats can be helpful. Pistol squats engage core muscles to stabilise the body during the movement, contributing to a stronger and more stable core,” says the expert. However, more research is required to prove that pistol squat can help in developing core strength.

4. Enhances flexibility

According to a study published in the Journal of Kinesiology and Exercise Science showed that pistol squats had a significant effect on the flexibility of hamstrings and increased muscle activity. It also helped maintain the decline angle of the knee joint, which helps improve stability.

5. Improves balance and stability

“The pistol squat requires balance and body control because the lifter must hold himself on one foot during the whole range of actions. Joint stability and control are required to provide adequate joint tracking, body balance, and overall movement safety, making this one among the few bodyweight activities that demand such high levels of mobility, stability, balance, and body control, explains the expert.

How to do pistol squats?

Here is a complete guide on how to do pistol squats, as explained by the expert.

1. Begin with a thorough warm-up to prepare the muscles and joints, including dynamic stretches and light cardio.
2. Stand with feet hip-width apart. Extend one leg straight in front of you, keeping it parallel to the ground.
3. Begin lowering your body by bending the knee of the supporting leg. Keep the extended leg straight and off the ground.
4. Ensure your back remains straight, chest up, and arms extended forward for balance. Keep your knee aligned with your toes.
5. Squat down as low as possible while maintaining control, aiming to bring your hips below the knee level of the supporting leg.
6. Push through the heel of the supporting leg to rise back to the starting position. Keep the extended leg off the ground throughout the movement.
7. Perform the desired number of repetitions on one leg before switching to the other leg.

Pistol Squat
Here’s how to do pistol squats properly. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Are there any side effects of pistol squats?

Here are some of the side effects of pistol squats, as explained by the expert.

  • Pistol squats can place significant stress on the knee joint, potentially leading to strain or injury if not performed with proper form.
  • You need to maintain balance, which may be challenging for beginners and increase the risk of falls.
  • High flexibility requirements can lead to muscle strains if attempted without adequate flexibility training.
  • Incorrect form or insufficient core strength can result in undue stress on the lower back.
  • You could be at a risk of injury if performed without proper preparation, progression, or technique.

Make sure you consult a professional before making any changes to your workout regimen.

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