Pistol Squats and Sumo Squats (TESTING THE LIMITS)

May 3, 2016 by VAHVA Fitness

Introducing two amazing exercises for developing strength and size to your legs: pistol squats and sumo squats. 

When it comes to bodyweight exercises for legs, there probably isn't any better exercise than doing single leg squats whether it's the pistol squat or some other variation.

In case you have access to barbells or kettlebells, then you will love the sumo squats we have demonstrated in this article. 

We strongly believe that you should first get your legs strong and mobile, then you are free to do heavy lifts as much as you want. Great exercises for raw strength are single leg squats, barbell squats, swings and deadlifts.

This is exactly how we structured the squat progressions in our Movement 20XX course - structure and mobility comes first, raw strength comes second.

Without working on structure the existing joint problems will only get worse, and working only on heavy lifts can create them later.

In addition to being amazing strength builders, single leg squats (narrow) and sumo squats (wide) are also great for structure. Together with versatile movement training and some mobility work, your legs are tuned for performance and health.

Pistol Squats

pistol squats for legs

Like mentioned above, pistol squats are one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do for raw strength. Doing pistol squats on a box or on an elevated surface will make it significantly easier to keep your other leg straight.

Pistol squats are also great for mobility (do them ass to grass) and superb for developing balance. Pistol squats will develop the quads and glutes among many other muscle groups.

How to? You don't need to use weights at first (that's intense). In the beginning you should practice assisted pistol squats.

For example, grab a door frame with your hand and use it for assistance. You can also do just the negative repetitions (lower yourself down slowly with one leg, then squat up with two).

Barbell Sumo Squats

how to do sumo squats

Take a very wide stance and squat down to parallel. You can be upright or lean slightly forward (but not too much). Barbell is an excellent tool if you want to go really heavy with squats!

The best part about sumo squats is that they will develop the inner thigh - also known as the adductor muscle group of the legs.

In addition to the inner thigh, your quads and glutes are also strengthened to a great extent.

If you want to go heavy, 5 sets and 5 repetitions per set is great. 3 sets and 10 repetitions with lighter weights will also work.

Kettlebell Sumo Squats

how to kettlebell sumo squat

The kettlebell sumo squat is somewhere between a deadlift and a squat. You hold the weight with straight arms like you would do a deadlift and then you need to focus on lifting yourself up by straightening the legs.

Your legs can can point forward or to the sides. You should do the exercise in a way it feels comfortable for your body structure. 3 to 5 sets and 10 to 20 repetitions is the perfect range for this exercise.

This is an exercise girls love to do because in addition to the adductor muscles, the glutes will also grow in size.

Many NFL players also do similar exercises to enhance their athletic prowess on the football field.

Although the kettlebell sumo squat may look easy, it's extremely effective for strength, mobility and structure.

Train hard, stay safe.


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samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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