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Not Flexible enough for pistol squats?

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  • #16
    TBH, I couldn't do a pistol squat for a long time of trying to build up to it with strictly bodyweight work. After several months of doing Body by Science with heavy leg presses I went back and tried.....bam success!

    My weak point was leg strength....for others it may be the balance, coordination, or flexibility required. Once you nail it down though you can fix it. Good luck!

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    • #17
      A huge limiting factor in pistols is usually ankle mobility. Here's my favorite ankle mobility drill. Ankle Mobility: A Small Twist to Make An Already Effective Exercie Better | FITNESS PAIN FREE

      I wrote a whole article on stretches to improve squatting in general and it really applies to pistols as well:Stretches and Mobility Drills to Prepare for the Snatch and Overhead Squat | FITNESS PAIN FREE

      Let me know if that helps, pistols are hard!
      Dan Pope Fitness Pain Free

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      • #18
        Something else that helped me was to use a 2.5 lb plate under my heel or to do them on a slight incline so that my heel was a little higher than the ball of my foot. Perhaps this indicates a flexibility issue which resolved itself over time or a strength issue which resolved with more practice in the "95% of the way there" range. Either way, I can do them now and I couldn't before. I would say it took me 3-4 months of pretty consistently working on them (using a band, unassisted but not breaking parallel, using a plate under my foot) until I was finally able to do them correctly without assist.

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        • #19
          I forwarded this to a friend of mine who has ankle issues too and is training for the pistol. Thanks!

          Originally posted by Dan Pope View Post
          A huge limiting factor in pistols is usually ankle mobility. Here's my favorite ankle mobility drill. Ankle Mobility: A Small Twist to Make An Already Effective Exercie Better | FITNESS PAIN FREE

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          • #20
            I am not felixable enough for a pistol squat as I can't get down or balance in the full dowm position, my ankles don't flex enough to get me balance right and I tip over backwards, which is probably most amusing to watch.

            I can do full bodyweigh squats and sit in the asian squat with feet flat and bum on my heels/back of calfs so it is possible to be flexible enough to full sqat and not to pistol, I think this is because you are balanced in a differnt way, with legs more out to the side as you have a point of balance on each side of the body, where as with a pistol you need to get your leg more infront of you otherwise you tip over sideways.

            It's not nessasarly just my ankles though, could be calfs, quads and lower back too as I understand it, I just leaned some streches to get me to touch my toes that involved loosening my back, legss and calfs, and whamo after just 2 rounds I could touch my toes when I wasn't even close before
            You know all those pictures of Adam and Eve where they have belly button? Think about it..................... take as long as you need........................

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            • #21
              Well its looking a little hard to do because on two legs squats are also difficult and these are on one leg. Anyhow I have never tried it but thinking about to try. But I don't think I can balance my body with this exercise.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by John007 View Post
                But I don't think I can balance my body with this exercise.
                I think I'm flexible enough, and can do it all the way down (controlled) and up too, as long as I can get some minimal assistance against this horrible sideways wobbling that resembles an earthquake, or if I'm trying to be gentler on myself, a bad case of Parkinson & Tourette. So if I can just barely touch a wall or doorframe, I'm good for 3 reps. Take away the wall and I don't want to play.

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                • #23
                  We do pistol squats with the TRX. I am terrible at them if I try to go below a certain angle. I need to practice as I think that is all that is needed.

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                  • #24
                    Has anyone tried holding a 5 or 10 lb weight out in front while practicing the pistol squat? This would move the center of mass more forward which might allow someone with stiff ankles to get to full depth without falling over backwards. It may not do much to increase flexibility but it could be another way of practicing, like using the TRX or putting something under the heels.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Tribal Rob View Post
                      I am not felixable enough for a pistol squat as I can't get down or balance in the full dowm position, my ankles don't flex enough to get me balance right and I tip over backwards, which is probably most amusing to watch.

                      I can do full bodyweigh squats and sit in the asian squat with feet flat and bum on my heels/back of calfs so it is possible to be flexible enough to full sqat and not to pistol, I think this is because you are balanced in a differnt way, with legs more out to the side as you have a point of balance on each side of the body, where as with a pistol you need to get your leg more infront of you otherwise you tip over sideways.

                      It's not nessasarly just my ankles though, could be calfs, quads and lower back too as I understand it, I just leaned some streches to get me to touch my toes that involved loosening my back, legss and calfs, and whamo after just 2 rounds I could touch my toes when I wasn't even close before
                      Can you hold the bottom position of a pistol comfortably?

                      A lot of people start trying to learn pistols without being able to sit on the pocket properly. Sit on the ground with both legs extended, tuck one heel to your butt and use your hands to sit up into the bottom pistol position. Hold this for a few seconds then try to press yourself up to standing (no bouncing or rocking allowed). Just GTG this for a while and see if it helps. Pressing up from this bottom section is the hardest part so you need to master this. Also because you begin the press from rest you will eliminate any bouncing in the pocket which is the easiest way to damage the knee.

                      This strength vs. flexibilty approach is a bit too simplistic for a move like the pistol. it tends to confuse the issue that you need the right amount of both for a pistol, its not all strength or all flexibility is a melding of the two. And lets not forget balance.
                      Last edited by sandstone; 01-05-2013, 09:01 PM.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by La.C View Post
                        Try these for strengthening and stretching your hips at the same time.

                        Garland pose is unbelievably comfortable with flexible hips. It's a great stretch that can be done when you are sitting around watching TV or whatever. Along with loosening up the hips, it stretches and strengthens your thighs, and stretches your ankles and your back torso.


                        Eagle pose stretches every major joint in the body if done with correct form. It builds balance, coordination and focus.
                        I was going to suggest squatting deeply and holding it, but the Garland pose should work well too. I do that a lot and it's helped my lower body mobility and strength quite a lot. I've never tried that eagle, looks like a beast...
                        I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by sandstone View Post
                          Can you hold the bottom position of a pistol comfortably?

                          A lot of people start trying to learn pistols without being able to sit on the pocket properly. Sit on the ground with both legs extended, tuck one heel to your butt and use your hands to sit up into the bottom pistol position. Hold this for a few seconds then try to press yourself up to standing (no bouncing or rocking allowed). Just GTG this for a while and see if it helps. Pressing up from this bottom section is the hardest part so you need to master this. Also because you begin the press from rest you will eliminate any bouncing in the pocket which is the easiest way to damage the knee.

                          This strength vs. flexibilty approach is a bit too simplistic for a move like the pistol. it tends to confuse the issue that you need the right amount of both for a pistol, its not all strength or all flexibility is a melding of the two. And lets not forget balance.
                          Tried this this morning, either I lift my heel way up, or fall over backwards, but I'm gonna keep trying that as I think is it a good way to get my body to go into the lowest point of the pistol. I think if I am totally honest, though I don't have much of a gut anymore, what I do have is not helping

                          Totally agree a pistol squat is a combination of strenght, balance and flexibility - that's what makes being able to do them such an awsome thing to aim for.
                          You know all those pictures of Adam and Eve where they have belly button? Think about it..................... take as long as you need........................

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Tribal Rob View Post
                            Tried this this morning, either I lift my heel way up, or fall over backwards, but I'm gonna keep trying that as I think is it a good way to get my body to go into the lowest point of the pistol. I think if I am totally honest, though I don't have much of a gut anymore, what I do have is not helping

                            Totally agree a pistol squat is a combination of strenght, balance and flexibility - that's what makes being able to do them such an awsome thing to aim for.
                            Good luck Rob, another bonus from starting at the bottom is mentally it is much easier. When I was learning and starting from the top I was always having different key thoughts- sit back, keep shin upright, weight on the heel etc. When you go from the bottom up the mental dialogue is much clearer- STAND UP. The biomechanics seem to take care of themselves.

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                            • #29
                              Far from being able to do a pistol squat, but I am working my way there following convict conditioning. I thought my experience might be instructive. I have just moved up a step from full square to close-stance squats. I can actualy do them and have no problem doing the full number of reps for the step, though easier with even a slight amount of weight in my hands (like a paperback book) as counter weight.

                              So nearly two weeks ago several hours after finishing squats I start getting pain below my left knee on either side of the shin about an inch or two below the bottom of the patella. Within a day, I have swelling and edema down to the ankle. I think it was due to the squats in part because I tried to do some stretching ala sitting in a squat position and that seemed to later inflame. I think what is going on is tendinitis at the insertion points below the knee. I still have a bit of swelling just below the knee though the edema down the leg has resolved. Annoying. Resting it. Impatient.

                              S I guess the lesson to me is to take it easy, step back a level, build slowly. Be patient. Be patient.

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                              • #30
                                Here's a video I recently did that shows various progressions up to a full pistol (and beyond). Perhaps some of you will find it helpful.

                                "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."

                                "You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."

                                My blog: http://www.AlKavadlo.com

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