Tuesday, August 19, 2008

You Got Gunz...I got a Pistol!

Squats are an amazing exercise. I can't believe all those years I wasted on the leg press...listening to my football buddies in college to "save my knees". However, pistol squats are another version (much more advanced) that I think will take your lower leg training to a higher level. The trouble with pistol squats is that they are inherently difficult. Period. If you don't have correct lumbo-pelvic control and strength, you can fall on your butt! So someone on JP's board was inquiring how can one progress into a proper pistol squat? I have some overzealous clients that will perform pistol squats, so I posted how I went about progressing them. Here goes:

I use a combination of methods. I usually begin someone with foam rolling the glutes, hip flexors, and lower leg (peroneals, gastroc) and then we immediately go to a 12 in. box and begin single leg squatting to that (in the pistol position). Having the arms out in front (like a walking "zombie") always helps with balance and weight shift.
After the first set, we usually will perform some more foam rolling (abductors, IT band, etc) and go into our second set immediately afterwords.Depending on the client, the threshold for pain and hard work has to be high. I find that the "excitability" created by foam rolling - along with its the tissue manipulation--allows for greater control of the pelvis during the descent.
The box allows the hamstrings to "know" when to "brake" and once a client becomes more proficient at the pistol squat, I lower the box or we go to no box. "cheating" method I use for the pistol squat is performing them in a squat cage. Simply holding on to the frame of the cage (with both arms) and descending down. Once down, the arms can help out coming back up.

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