A Better Alternative for Pistol Squats

The Pistol Squat, aka Single Leg Squat, is performed by athletes and people looking to stay fit, decrease their risk for injury, and enhance their fitness.


When, in athletics or life, are you ever in a position like the bottom position of the pistol squat?

Don’t get me wrong, the pistol squat is a great movement for bringing the body through full ranges of motion at the spine, hip, and ankle as well as improving strength.

2. Demanding Position

In training and lift, we want to challenge our body to be able to handle the stress that is placed upon it.  The pistol squat may not be the best movement for someone to perform. It requires a lot of hip flexion, knee flexion, and ankle dorsiflexion, as shown in the picture above.

Besides needing enough mobility to perform that movement, some people just don’t tolerate that position at their low back, hip, knee, or ankle.

If you are having pain with a pistol, then seek out a licensed medical practitioner to be assessed to see what is going on.

But, for the 2 reasons mentioned above as well as others, there must be a better option out there.

Bring in the Skater Squat!

I first heard of the skater squat from Ben Bruno.  Ever since seeing this variation, I’ve used it with my athletes and clients.

The skater squat puts the athlete in a more athletic position, allows for good technique throughout the body, and if need be, can be loaded safely and effectively.

Now, just like the pistol squat, there are regressions and progressions to make the movement easier or more challenging depending on the needs of the athlete.


If someone’s technique is subpar and/or the movement is too difficult, then a regression of that movement is in order.

Decrease the Distance Traveled

If someone can’t perform the entire movement from standing to the floor and back up, then decrease the distance they need to travel.

Key Points:

-Maintain good technique (no knee valgus, hip drop/trunk sway)

-Decrease the distance traveled enough where the athlete can still find the movement challenging, but technique is still on point.

-Once it becomes too easy, increase the amount of distance they need to travel.

TRX Assisted Skater Squat

Key Points:

-Use the TRX to assist in the movement.

-Don’t use the TRX so much that the TRX and your upper body are performing the majority of the work.

TRX Limited ROM Skater Squat

Eccentric Only Skater Squat

Concentric Only Skater Squat

Well, what if skater squats are too easy?

Enter the Progressions!


Increased the Distance Traveled

Increased ROM (Range of Motion) Skater Squat

Counterbalanced Skater Squat

Load it!

Goblet Skater Squat

Racked Kettlebell Skater Squat

There you have it!  If you are doing pistols and they hurt your back or knees or you just want to train to be more athletic, give skater squats a try!

Andrew Millett