5 Reasons To Master Pistol Squats (+ The September 30-Day Pistol Squat Challenge)


Whether you’re still working on getting your first one or can already bust out five ore more in a row per leg, there’s no doubt that pistol squats are one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do for strong, powerful legs.

Yes, pistols are tough. Yet if you’re too intimidated to even begin working on them, don’t be. We’ve all got to start somewhere, and even if you’re nowhere near doing a full pistol now, with hard work and consistency you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Here are 5 reasons to master pistol squats once and for all:

1. To Get Super Strong Legs

There’s no way around it: in order to do a pistol, you have to have really, really strong legs.

There’s no way to cheat—it’s just you and your own bodyweight. That means you have to put in the work—but once you do, it will pay off tremendously.

2. Because You Don’t Need Any Equipment

One of the coolest things about pistol squats? You can do them absolutely anywhere.

That means no heavy barbells, squat racks, or even massive kettlebells are necessary to make your legs burn on leg day. You can do pistols absolutely anywhere—whether you’re at an outdoor fitness park, a crappy hotel gym, or your fourth floor apartment.

3. To Combat Muscular Imbalances

Almost everyone has one arm, one leg, maybe even an entire side of their body that is stronger than the other.

When I first started working on pistols, for example, I was finally able to do one on my right leg, but wasn’t even close on my left, despite the fact that I did regular squats and lower body plyo exercises fairly often.

Practicing pistols on both sides eventually helped even out my leg strength, which then helped iron out any muscular imbalances I was having. So if you start out fairly strong on one side, but aren’t even close on the other, don’t get discouraged—just keep working.

4. To Prove To Yourself You Can

If you’re anything like I was when I first decided I wanted to be able to do pistol squats, they probably seem nearly impossible. Especially for those of us with long limbs, pistols are a pretty daunting feat.

But just like anything else, pistols are doable, no matter where you’re at in your fitness journey. Prove to yourself you can do them and you’ll realize when you work hard and want something bad enough, you really can do anything you put your mind to.

They Make You Look Like a Badass

There’s no question about it: busting out pistol squats makes you look like a bonafide badass.

And being a badass is so much more than just looking cool.

It means being true to yourself and who you are, constantly striving to push yourself past your personal limitations, and having the confidence to go after your dreams—even if no one else believes in you but yourself.

You’ve got this.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Unknown

The September 30-Day Pistol Squat Challenge

After so many of you took part in the 12 Minute Athlete Summer Strong 5 Day Workout Challenge this summer, I thought it was about time to do another fun challenge to push your personal limits and help you get stronger, more confident, and more awesome overall.

This time we’re going to be focusing on one of my favorite exercises ever—the pistol squat.

I know, I know, pistols are a really hard exercise, if you can’t do one yet, you’re not alone. But that’s what this challenge is for—to get you working on your pistols consistently and to give you logical progressions so that you can start doing pistol squats.

Rules Of The Challenge

Here’s how this 30-day challenge is going to go: the September 30-Day Pistol Squat Challenge officially starts next Tuesday, September 1st and will go through the ENTIRE month of September.

I’ll be posting all the challenge rules and details next week on the site, but for now here’s everything you need to know about it:

You should plan to work on your pistols 3-5x a week. Your goal should be to commit to working on your pistols 3-5x a week for the entire month of September. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to start with 3x a week, if you’re already a pistol squat master you can be a little more ambitious.

Stay tuned for progressions. I’ll be posting several different pistol progressions the first day of the challenge so you can start by trying each progression and see which ones you can do right now. I’ll give you a simple protocol to get started, then you’ll continue to work the progressions, making sure to keep track of your reps and progress along the way.

There will be prizes! Throughout the month, we’ll be handing out prizes for several different fun and creative categories when you post your pistol photos and videos to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and tag #30daysofpistols.

That’s it! Work hard, have fun, and get ready to ROCK some pistols this September. I’ll be doing the challenge with you so make sure to follow @12minuteathlete on one of those social networks mentioned above to see some of your pistol photos and videos featured and watch as my pistols improve.

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12 thoughts on “5 Reasons To Master Pistol Squats (+ The September 30-Day Pistol Squat Challenge)”

  1. Can’t wait for the challenge! I started working on mine a couple months ago after first seeing them on your blog- you’re right they’re super daunting, but the progress is almost tangible and now I utilize this awesome move when I’m on vacation and don’t have easy access to a gym! Such a great move 🙂

  2. Krista,
    I’m also fairly tall and have long legs, and my legs are pretty strong, but I have the hardest time just trying to lower into a pistol squat! I honestly just don’t feel like there is any way to get my body into the correct position. My foot doesn’t seem to possess the correct amount of dorsiflexion and then the rest of my body just falls over. Any suggestions?

  3. Ive just had nerve sheath injections in 3 inflamed nerves in lower back
    Thanks Sharon 4 weeks ago & been back at the gym 3 weeks now. Do you think i could still do this challenge

  4. so excited for this! i’ve wanted to do pistol squats because of the benefits and reasons you’ve mentioned…they’re just so difficult for me right now. can’t wait to see the progressions to get an idea of where to start!

  5. Really looking forward to this, one of my missions for this year. I’m ok going down, it’s the getting up j struggle with but that might dimmer age related

  6. I’ve been doing Bulgarian split squats, which are similar. Same purpose too- I use them to equalize strength between my left and right sides. Are there any major pros and cons of doing that vs pistol squats, other than the need for dumbbells?


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