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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 11-01-2004, 08:09 PM   #1
Gordon Richmond
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I did an older WOD today which called for one legged squats, my first time doing them. I couldn't keep my up leg straight the entire time and i did the squats so my hands brushed against the wall for balance purposes, but I was careful not to lean on them. Is this good or is there a better way I should be doing beginner pistols?
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Old 11-01-2004, 09:41 PM   #2
Eugene R. Allen
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Pistols are difficult not just from the strength aspect but also a balance and coordination aspect. Go to and check out The Naked Warrior book by Pavel Tsatsouline. In this book he deals with just the push up and pistol and how to make them harder and more perfect.

If your problem is balance rather than strength, a light weight held in both hands with your arms extended will help keep you from floundering and falling over backwards. Another method I have used is to attach an elastic cord to a hook in the wall at floor level (higher if you want it to pull you up a bit) and then adjust your distance depending upon how much help you need to hold you forward. One of the best ways to get started if you can't maintain alignment throughout the movement is to stand in a doorway with one foot extended along the wall and the toes of your support foot up against the door frame. Use the tips of your fingers on the door frame trim for balance. If you need a little more help getting up, use the door instead of the wall and give yourself a bit of help by pulling - lightly - on the knobs. You can do them with a partner by getting right hand grips when squatting on the right foot, finding an appropriate distance, and then squating simultaneously using each other for forward balance. You can do partials by doing the pistol part way down to a chair or box and using a lower and lower platform as you get stronger.

Pavel advises that you grip the floor with your toes, pull all the muscles below your hip upward into your groin, get tension in your core and then pull yourself into the "hole" rather than just collapsing by letting your knee fold. Work on each of the elements individually first to get a feel for them and then add them together.

Grease the of may doing sub-maximal reps throughout the day. The frequency will help wire the movement into your system. The more correctly you do them each time, the better your wiring will be.

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Old 11-01-2004, 11:04 PM   #3
Tyler Hass
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Here is a great article on the Pistol by Steve Cotter:

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Old 11-02-2004, 07:17 AM   #4
Ryan Atkins
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Hi Gordon,

After trying a couple of methods it was training the movement in water that ultimately allowed me to perform my first unassisted pistols. I started out in about 3' of depth and, in about 45 minutes, worked my way step by step up a set of stairs until I was doing them on the deck.

Hope this helps,

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Old 11-02-2004, 10:01 AM   #5
Beth Moscov
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I would second Eugene on looking at the Naked Warrior. The principles in it are good and I have applied them to other things (like handstand walking) quite successfully.
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Old 11-02-2004, 10:50 AM   #6
Douglas Sunlin
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You can also do a one-legged squat by moving your free leg so the knee goes to the ground behind your "working" leg. This emphasizes other parts of your leg, and it isn't so much work to balance.

But who am I kidding, the balance work is part of the workout! :-)
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Old 11-02-2004, 02:24 PM   #7
Paul Theodorescu
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Eugene, have you found Pavels' high tension techniques helpful for the pistol? I have found it very awkward and prefer the ballistic method.
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Old 11-02-2004, 11:35 PM   #8
Eugene R. Allen
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By ballistic do you mean a fairly rapid bounce at the bottom? I have found Pavel's high tension ideas as ideals and attempt to squeeze them, if you'll pardon the pun, in wherever I the gym anyway. Forced air grunting will bring strange looks in the gorcery store. I know exactly what you mean about the awkwardness of the technique when standing one one leg. It is hard to maintain that tension when the up leg is wandering all over the gym.

This may help. Lay down on the ground on your back and hold your leg up at 20 degrees or so. Have someone grab your foot with both hands and give you resistance while you pull your knee toward your chest. Hollow your core, roll your pelvis under, fill your belly with air and create pressure and draw your leg in. Feel that tension in your leg as you pull it up and remember that feeling.

Quick, before you forget...on your feet and into pistol position. With that feeling in mind hollow your core, roll your pelvis under, fill your belly with air and create pressure. Now, remember the sensation of pulling your leg up and mimic that feeling now as you pull yourself down into the "hole." Maintain the tension as you go down and think of yourself as a rubber band that his being pulled taut. Don't bounce like a ball when you get to the bottom, return under control but take advantage of the tension you created on the way down. Squeeze the air out under tension with a "Tsssssssssahhhh" sound with your tongue against the front of your teeth.

Tension is strength. More tension is more strength. Don't just stand back up, launch yourself.

I'm going down to see Pavel in San Diego this weekend along with Tony Blauer. Should be a good seminar.

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Old 11-03-2004, 06:42 PM   #9
Rick Worthington
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Great link Tyler - Steve Cotter's article is one the best I've read on pistols. They are one of my major troubled areas that needs work.
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