Pendulum Pistol Squats

Pendulum Pistol Squats

Execution Cues:


- Begin by setting up a box or bench in a power rack. The height of the elevated surface should be ~18-24 inches or about equal to your mid thigh. 
- Though this isn't mandatory, I also recommend setting up an empty bar in J hooks across the front of the rack to give yourself more support and something more convenient to hold into for assistance. 
- Step up onto the elevated surface and position your intended working leg to the far side. Your off leg should now be completely off the surface and the foot of your working leg ~1-2 inches from the edge. Make sure the object you're standing on is stable with the load being unevenly distributed like this. 
- Use your hands to hold onto the bar/rack and provide balance. 
- Initiate the eccentric by slowly hinging at the hips and reaching back with your off leg. This should be a very hip dominant pattern to begin. The working glute should be bearing the majority of the load. The pelvis should be neutral and even. 
- Continue in this manner until the range of motion becomes exhausted. You will know this when getting more range requires forward knee translation. 
- Instead of ending the eccentric, allow that knee translation. In order to accommodate with the shifting of mass, slowly "swing" your off leg forward as you continue to descend. 
- The end position of the squat should be when your knee is at maximal flexion. Your off leg should now be held in maximal active hip flexion (think about pulling your toes up). Torso angle should be relatively upright. Load should be evenly dispersed within the foot, and your upper body should be providing support thus negating the effect of mobility restrictions. There may be slight posterior pelvic tilt (butt wink) due to the excessive range of motion but this should not be problematic as long as the abs are properly braced. 
- Pause in this terminal position for a count before transitioning into the concentric by intentionally driving through your quads while maintaining the upright torso angle. Note that this will NOT be a reversal of the eccentric as the off leg will stay flexed throughout the concentric rather than replicating the pendulum. 
- Continue driving yourself all the way back up using ONLY your legs (avoid the inclination to pull with your arms) until standing fully upright again. 


- Knee Pain
- Hip Pain
- Poor Hip Mobility
- Poor Pelvic Mobility
- Poor Ankle Mobility
- Weak Quads


- Step Ups
- Split Squats
- FFE Split Squats
- Assisted High Step Ups
- Assisted Skater Squats


- Pendulum Pistol Squats (with load—chains, SSB, etc)
- Pistol Squats
- Single Leg Pendulum Squats

Volume Parameters:

- Up to 4 sets per session
- Up to 10 sets per week
- 3-15 rep range

Applicable Intensity Techniques:

- Tempo Manipulations
- Cluster Sets
- Forced Reps (using your upper body to "self spot" and assist through the concentric) 

Programming Considerations:

It's incredibly hard to find a variation that is well-suited for a variety of specific needs. 

Does it stimulate hypertrophy efficiently?

Will it improve my neuromuscular output/force production?

Can I feel my target muscles working?

Is it going to beat my joints up?

Can I perform a full ROM or will my mobility restrictions be a disqualifier? 

And this is only the surface level of questions that unknowingly flow through our subconscious when we're trying to decide whether an exercise is right for us or not. 

And being completely honest, there aren't many that check off all the boxes when put under the scrutiny of my own personal evaluation. Most of the time, I'm content to settle with the understanding that I'm making trade-offs here or there.

But then sometimes, you stumble on a new variation or a novel way of doing a familiar exercise that makes you rethink everything you thought you were content with...

Recently, this has happened to me twice:

The first time was with the Single Leg Braced RDLs that I've talked about in the past (and was actually another movement within this week's training session)...this tweak on the traditional Single Leg RDL made me take a step back and reevaluate how I approached glute training. 

And the second time happened when I was tinkering with ways to make High Step Ups feel a bit more comfortable. But instead of stepping down behind the box, I adjusted my off leg to the side. And rather than trying to force the hinge to load my glute, I just allowed the natural pattern to take over with my leg swinging forward as a counterbalance. Viola!—That was how the Pendulum Pistol Squat was created. 

I'm not going to claim that this will be the exercise-to-end-all-exercises for every single person. I'm also not going to pretend that it's easily scaled up or down for every level of trainee. The movement has its limitations just like anything's not perfect. 

But when it comes to checking off boxes, I feel comfortable saying that very few other variations are as well-rounded, applicable, and beneficial as the Pendulum Pistol Squat.

Primary Use Case:

- Hypertrophy of the Quads and Glutes
- Improved Hip and Ankle Mobility

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