A Stupid Simple Exercise to Improve Your Pistol - FITNESS PAIN FREE

A Stupid Simple Exercise to Improve Your Pistol

I’m a big fan of working pistols as a skill.  Most people don’t have the mobility, strength or exposure to perform pistols well, especially as a new trainee.  One drill I’ve been using lately with success to help build the pistol is a tall box step-up.  

A lot of athletes struggle with the bottom position of a pistol. One exercise I like to help with this is a tall box step-up. This exercise basically allows athletes to self spot in the bottom portion to gain exposure and comfort for the full pistol. What's also good about this variation is that you can self adjust the amount of stress you take at the bottom. This way we don't over stress athletes who aren't ready yet and can give adequate challenge to a large group of exercisers with varied experience levels without changing the exercise. Give these a shot and share if you know someone who could benefit from these. @powermonkeyfitness @reebok #teamreebok #reebok @championptp @mikereinold @lenmacpt @shift_movementscience

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Here’s why I like it:

1) You can self regulate how much assistance you need

  • Your trail leg is available to help assist throughout most of the movement.  This is especially beneficial at the bottom of the exercise where most people don’t have much experience.  People are going to have to spend some time in the bottom of the pistol to gain some proficiency and your trail leg can make that happy.

2) It’s easy to perform in a group setting

  • A huge challenge when training pistols is that everyone is at a different strength and experience level within a group training environment.  Tall box step-ups can be made extremely hard or easy depending on how much assistance you grant yourself with your trail leg.  You can even modify things further with a taller / shorter box as well as adding weight.

3) Time in the bottom of the pistol

  • Tissue capacity is a term that one of my favorite researchers (Jill Cook) talks about a lot.  Basically, all parts of your body need to be safely and progressively loaded over time for maximal safety (and performance).  Most people spend little time in the very bottom position of a squat.  Given that a pistol loads your full bodyweight onto 1 leg in an already underexposed and generally weak position (full squat) and you’ve got an exercise on your hands that can give a lot of people sore knees.  Having your athletes spend more time in a deep squat where they can self assist in the hardest parts of the exercise is vital to success.

Give this exercise a shot and let me know what you think.


If you’d like to see how I prescribe movements like these into a comprehensive training program for my athletes then click HERE.

Pistol Party,

Dan Pope DPT, OCS, CSCS, CF-L1



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