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Not Flexible enough for pistol squats?

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  • Not Flexible enough for pistol squats?

    I have been working on pistol squats for awhlie. Lately I have been using the progression in Convict Conditioning. I can do them with the help of a door or TRX. I can also do 1/2 pistols in to a low chair, but I can't do them without assistance all the way down, and it feels like I'm too tight in the hips, ankles, etc. I think I have the strength, but not the flexiblity. This is one exercise I want to master. Anyone else run in to this? Any good stretches?
    Last edited by Admin; 12-15-2011, 02:49 PM.

  • #2
    I've been having a lot of problems transitioning to the Uneven Squats, actually.

    Some thoughts:
    I don't have the hip flexor strength/endurance to keep my foot off the ground.
    I don't have the balance to go all the way down without falling over.
    I think my lower back is rounding in the low position of the squat.
    I think my ankles are maybe a little tight, but I think other problems are affecting me more.

    Things I've been trying:
    1-leg Squats on a bench, to build strength, while I continue to work out my issues.
    Half Uneven squats, to start working on my balance and flexibility.
    Static holds in the low position for uneven squats.
    Assisted uneven squats, using a TRX or something to keep from falling over.
    Even uneven squats- put the non-lifting foot directly on the floor, but with a straight knee.

    Things I intend to try:
    Weighted knee raises or some other exercise to work my hip flexor strength.

    I'm not too worried about it yet, though. I made good time through all the other CC levels up to this point (~7-8 months), gaining both size and strength in the process. My thighs have more muscle now than any time in the past 6.5 years, since I busted up my one leg and my other foot. I'm going to keep working it and I think I'll get there eventually.

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    • #3
      i'm sort of dealing with this too. sort of, because i just started one legged box squats (mark's progression from pbf) a few weeks ago. i'm pretty sure i have the strength, but definitely not the flexibility and mobility. i've been trying dorsiflexion to increase my ankle mobility and i'm curious to see if that helps solve the problem
      what are your progressions like? and have you been working on them long? if there's one i've been finding it's that it's probably going to take a while to get competent, let alone good, at pistols.
      http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread60178.html

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      • #4
        I do convict conditioning as well. I went from close squats to pistols (woo, step 6 to 10 in one shot). I played with the one where you do a pistol with your foot on a basketball/soccer ball but I had balance issues. Anyway, I'd recommend holding a weight to counterbalance yourself; an excellent use for a kettlebell if you have one lying around. Try to keep getting lower and lower and sink into the pistol. The counterweight should help out with keeping your balance while getting progressively lower and lower. Try to think of it as PNF stretching to get all the way down. That way you get used to using your leg stabilizers to stabilize yourself instead of your upper-body.
        Prodistat
        Poke it quickly, with a stick.

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        • #5
          edit
          Last edited by Chapstick; 11-13-2011, 09:45 AM.

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          • #6
            I've just gotten to the uneven squat myself in the CC program. I've spent about 2 months on each step and have (until now) found the new exercise relatively easy. By that I mean that the program builds you up to pretty high numbers (in my opinion) of a certain exercise and then when you go to a harder variation, the reps drop. I find the lower rep ranges relatively easy. But th uneven squat is the biggest step so far for me. I'm not even close on it. I think it's a mixture of strength, flexibility and skill for me. My legs are strong (I can do two legged squats all day), but the one leg variety is so impossible it almost makes me want to quit on it. But I won't.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Setabas View Post
              I've just gotten to the uneven squat myself in the CC program. I've spent about 2 months on each step and have (until now) found the new exercise relatively easy. By that I mean that the program builds you up to pretty high numbers (in my opinion) of a certain exercise and then when you go to a harder variation, the reps drop. I find the lower rep ranges relatively easy. But th uneven squat is the biggest step so far for me. I'm not even close on it. I think it's a mixture of strength, flexibility and skill for me. My legs are strong (I can do two legged squats all day), but the one leg variety is so impossible it almost makes me want to quit on it. But I won't.
              I've been having a similar issue transitioning from uneven pushups to the half 1-arm pushup, so I don't think it is just the squat progression. That jump from two limbs to one is a big one for me.

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              • #8
                If you can do any movement with assistance (TRX, band, partner etc.) then it is not a flexibility issue - it's a strength issue.
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                • #9
                  Be patient with advanced exercises like pistols - some people get it quicker than others, but it can take years if you're starting from scratch.

                  Is is safe to assume you've already seen my article on pistol squats?
                  "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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                  • #10
                    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.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Coach Palfrey View Post
                      If you can do any movement with assistance (TRX, band, partner etc.) then it is not a flexibility issue - it's a strength issue.
                      I would have said quite the opposite, at least on the pistol. One issue is almost certainly ankle flexibility - and there the TRX helps because it prevents you from falling back. I would however agree that it is a strength issue as well. TRX pistols are easy, as you can use different muscles. Haven't fully figured it out, but what I believe is that the real pistol is a posterior chain exercise, whilst in the TRX pistol you essentially push yourself back, and the the TRX then lifts you up, which makes it a quad dominant exercise.

                      I am with Al there: gotta give it its time...
                      http://thorfalk.wordpress.com

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Thor Falk View Post
                        I would have said quite the opposite, at least on the pistol. One issue is almost certainly ankle flexibility - and there the TRX helps because it prevents you from falling back. I would however agree that it is a strength issue as well. TRX pistols are easy, as you can use different muscles. Haven't fully figured it out, but what I believe is that the real pistol is a posterior chain exercise, whilst in the TRX pistol you essentially push yourself back, and the the TRX then lifts you up, which makes it a quad dominant exercise.

                        I am with Al there: gotta give it its time...
                        If the biomechanics of the movement are changed due to assistance then yes but then it is not the same exercise. If the joint can achieve the required ROM then it inherently has the flexibility to do the un-assisted version of the exercise. But not having the strength to maintain the correct biomechanical position is another issue
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                        • #13
                          I can see how ankle dorsiflexion mobility would be an issue if you are able to do them with the TRX but now without. When stiff ankles you'll have difficulty going to full depth because you won't be able to keep your center of mass over your foot. The TRX probably helps because it allows you to lean back some without falling over backward.

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                          • #14
                            If you can do a full bodyweight squat on two legs then why do you think you lack flexibility to complete a pistol. If anything a pistol requires slightly less flexibility as the front leg provides counterbalance so the upper body can sit (ever so slightly) further back.

                            Therefore it is a strength issue, probably to do with the various stabilizing muscles. This is why people who can barbell squat their BW often struggle to pistol without specific practice.

                            You could always try doing them from an elevated surface to give the extended leg more room to drop, just make sure that you have enough space behind you in case you do fall backwards.
                            Last edited by sandstone; 12-23-2012, 07:37 AM.

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                            • #15
                              I just got to unevens on the CC progression. So I'll concur with both the OP and, well everyone else.

                              Pavel recommends consolidation training to help with this, which I have been trying to use (he calls it "greasing the groove"). Basically, much of the move, outside of strength itself, is coordination and practice. Doing a pistol is just not the sort of thing many of us are used to doing. So even if you can squat 500 lbs, the coordination to raise a leg and go down without falling over probably isn't there.

                              I'm working with a depth of about 1/3 with the unevens - and trying to get out of all my chairs on one leg. Hopefully, over a few months, this will get me to a respectable depth. So like Al said - keep at it.

                              I assume the same applies to 1-arm pushups!

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