I started doing Pistol Squats in the Summer of 2009. It took me 4 months to nail them down and I used a different approach to them than what Eric and Joe prefer. Instead of Squatting to a box and lowering it gradually (as a progression to the actual "Pistol Squat"), what worked for me was having my heel raised and them lowering that platform gradually till I was able to do a full Pistol Squat.
I spent 2009 doing rep work with just 20 lbs (2 dumbbells weighing 10 lbs each) and then in 2010 I spent some time working with adding weight.
But, I am now trying to work up to Pistol Squats using just my bodyweight as resistance. It's a difficult battle and I've only just begun but I have some observations from all my experiences:
1. The longer you are able to hang at the bottom the better you will get at the Pistol Squat. I think staying tight and being able to pause at the bottom helps develop a certain "groove" to the lift. Subtle nuances of the lift become very apparent.
2. Knee pains happen initially. I remember my knees used to hurt initially. There are times when my technique was so messed up at the slight exaggeration of any small movement would result in my bodyweight being distributed awkwardly and I'd have shooting pain in my knee which would not allow me to Squat pain free for the remaining session. It was only much later that I realized how not to squat with all the weight going forwards of my knees.
3. Pistol Squats DO really have a great carry over onto the Deadlift and the Front Squat. The hip stability that they bring helps a lot.
As and when I think of more tips and such, I'll post them here. All of you who love doing these, please contribute :-)
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