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How to Progress Your Pistol Squat

Annmarie Licatese, DVRT Master (Fit Foodie Mama)

It’s been a few very busy weeks but I am finally back to my regular posting schedule which means sharing ways that the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Fitness System can take your training to the next level. Or in this case, problem solve and help progress! 

Let’s talk about the pistol squat.  It’s like the pull-up of leg exercises.  You dream of progressing to do one but at times it seems impossible to achieve.  Much like the pull-up though, the pistol squat is possible with the right progressions along with some problem solving techniques.  


I have talked the importance of single leg exercises in previous posts (Quick DVRT Strength Workout for RunnersDVRT Strength Workout for Runners: Taking It a Step Further) but to reiterate, one legged squats force each leg to develop and strengthen on their own and also works the knee stabilizers.  Independently strong legs + stable knees= stronger running and less injuries.  

Now that we understand why single leg work is so important, let’s talk about ways to progress the pistol squat! 

First thing to do is find yourself a pole or a TRX suspension trainer to grab on to while you practice.  Start with a two legged squat, hold at the bottom and stick one leg out and balance on the stable leg.  Once you feel comfortable, try it again but lift one leg before squatting down while holding on.  

Ready to ditch the pole? Move on to performing a pistol squat onto a box and decrease the height of the box as you progress.  

This is also where the Ultimate Sandbag Core Bag can come in.  I know what you’re thinking and while it seems a little counterintuitive to add weight before mastering it, the sandbag provides a counterbalance which actually helps to make it a little easier. 

It is usually recommended to use something like a barbell plate to give this a try but I prefer the Ultimate Sandbag Core Bag for a variety of reasons, one being that if you lose your balance and drop it, you won’t break your toe.


The other reasons being that the bag is ergonomically designed with the outside handles shoulder width apart which helps to keep you in alignment, provides balance, encourages proper form and also seriously activates your core. 


Once you feel comfortable enough, you can ditch the box and give it a try with just the bag.  

To perform a pistol squat with the core bag, place your hands on the outside handles and “pull” them apart and press the sandbag forward.  Lift one leg and begin to squat down while holding the bag out in front of you all the way down until your leg is parallel to the ground and the sandbag is parallel with your leg. 

As you can see in the video below, even though I am capable of doing a pistol squat solo, the Ultimate Sandbag Core Bag actually encourages proper form and allows me to take a pause at the bottom without falling over.  

Ready to give it a try! Grab a core bag and let me know how it goes



Check out Annmarie’s great NEW DVRT Running Strength Programs HERE and see how to become stronger and more resilient for any activity!