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Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Favorite Bodyweight Exercises - Part 3

Well, I've told you about my first two favorite bodyweight exercises -- the push-up and the chin-up. So I thought I'd conclude the series with the last of my favorite bodyweight exercises, and the one I have not yet mastered: the Pistol Squat.

The Pistol Squat, also known as a one-legged squat, is a pretty advanced move. You need to already be able to do two-legged squats well first. These are a great workout for the entire lower body.

Phase 1: Two-legged squats. A proper two-legged squat starts with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out. You then bend at the knees and hips, keeping your chest up while pushing your butt back as if you are sitting in a chair. Done properly, you should have your weight over your heels, and have to work on your balance to avoid falling backwards. Your knees should not go past your toes - if they do, reduce the depth of the squat. Then push through your heels and rise back up to the standing position. Once you can do about 20 of these in a row, then you are ready to start working on the pistol squat!

Phase 2: Bench Get-Ups. Stand with feet about shoulder width apart. Lift one leg and extend it in front of you. Hold your arms out for balance. Bend at the hips and knee and sit back onto the bench. Push through your heel and stand up again. That's one repetition.

Phase 3: Box One-Leg Squats. Stand on a box or bench at least 8" off the ground. Hang one leg off the side of the box, and stand on the box with the other leg. Put your hands out in front of you and push your butt back and squat down until your hanging leg touches the ground. Push through the heel on the box and rise back up to standing. As you improve, instead of having the hanging leg go straight down, push it forward so it is at a diagonal to the ground.

Phase 4: Pistol Squats. Okay, you're ready to give it a try! Lift one leg forward and try to keep it straight and tight as much as you can throughout the exercise. Push your hips and butt back and squat slowly down on one leg. Go as far down as you can comfortably go, balancing more of your weight on your heel and keeping your chest erect. For the ascent, push through the heel and keep your body erect, rising back up to the starting position.

Here's video of Craig Ballantyne demonstrating the Phase 2 Bench Get-up and the final Phase 4 Pistol Squat.

There are 200 pound muscle men who can't do a pistol squat, so once you can do one, you will have scored a major bodyweight achievement.

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