Preparing for the CrossFit Open: Learn Pistols

I have learned a couple different progressions for pistols.  Try one or both of them out to see what works for you!

Toe Touch Progression

Toe Touch

Place one foot back with the toe touching down.  This is for balance only.  Using the stance leg, squat down and stand back up.  Keep the purpose of the pistol/squat as it should be and get your hip crease below your knee.

Heel Touch

Once you have balance and depth with the toe slightly back, move the foot forward to sit just behind the heel of your stance side.  Work on the squat strength and control in that position.

Calf Touch

Progressing a bit more, place your non-stance leg on your calf.  This will help with balance slightly, but still forces you to only use your stance leg only for the pistol.

Hold Foot

Now the foot is coming to the front to be more in the pistol position.  Use the opposite hand to hold onto your foot.  This will help to add some counter balance as well as not fatigue out your hip flexors that are required to keep the leg elevated when held out straight in a full pistol.

Full Pistol

And now the real deal!

Box Progression

Using a box, stand in front of it with one leg held off the floor.  Squat down until your butt touches the box, but do not de-weight yourself, and stand back up.

Gradually lower the box height as you gain strength, control, and balance.

Full Pistol

And now the real deal!

Hip Flexor Control/Strength

Here are two great drills I like to do to strengthen the hip flexors to hold up the leg for longer periods during pistols without getting cramps in the hip flexors or quads.  Yes, they are harder than they appear!

Questions or Comments?  Email me at

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