Learning to Pistol Squat for “Legend”

Tomorrow’s WOD has pistol squats in it. “Legend” is the name of this particular WOD, and it’s a hero workout. Because it’s a hero WOD, I would really like to give it 100% if I can, and doing this workout as prescribed is important to me. This will be a particularly difficult challenge, as I haven’t yet had the opportunity to learn how to do pistols! Regardless, I think I have the strength to do it, I just need to somehow put it all together by tomorrow night.

Challenge accepted!

CrossFit Movement Standard

Crossfit Movement Definition

The WOD

Equipment Tips

First, if you have limited ankle range of motion, the pistol is going to be a real challenge. The knee needs to travel a bit further forward in this movement, and you lose power if you come up on your toes. A higher heel can help compensate for this, so I’ll be wearing my lifting shoes! I’ve heard of athletes adding wedge inserts in addition to their lifting shoes to get as much heel raise as possible. I have some new lifters with a good high heel, and my ankle range of motion is actually not horrible, so I think it might be enough if I do some mobility drills beforehand. I’ll also add some hamstring stretching to make sure that doesn’t limit me from putting my leg out in front.

Movement Tips

The hands and foot should be out far in front of you to provide counterbalance. Also, even though it is counter-intuitive (as it is not like back squatting or front squatting), rounding the back and looking down also helps with balance and gives you some traction to push from. When you get to the bottom if you lean forward and think  “head to toes” while you’re pushing up, it should help. Carl Paoli gives a good explanation here, and the way I’m thinking about it, if a 90 year old woman can stand up to get out of bed, why can’t I stand up with one leg?

Movement Progressions

I plan to work through a few of these to as a warm up, to get me ready for the more intense effort of the regular pistol.

1 – Assisted Pistol


2 – Pistol Squat Off A Box

3 – Counterweight Pistol Squat

The Gameplan

First, ankle mobility and hamstring stretching. Then, a good warm up including a few rounds of 1-2 reps of each progression, and then go for it. If I can do one, I probably do all eight – with enough rest between reps. With any luck I’ll be posting an RX score tomorrow!

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