Pistol Squats for Vertical Leap Training

by Tony Smith on 02/10/2011

One Leg Pistol Squat for Vertical Jump Training works wonders!

Michael Jordan, Blue Dunk, Lisle, IL, 1987

Image by cliff1066™ via FlickrOn

Sometimes we just don’t have the time; sometimes we may not have access to a gym or equipment. There are so many ways to keep in shape with exercises that require nothing more than… you!

Bodyweight training. We all know the concept: Use your body for resistance. Great for beginners, but as your strength increases you will need more resistance than what your body can offer. Pushups, pull-ups are great conditioning exercises. It is a must for any beginner program, and for the advanced athlete using it as a warm-up and or conditioning when gym access is limited.

One bodyweight exercise that stands out, especially for developing leg strength and power, is the Pistol Squat. This exercise is not as easy as it looks. I have seen players of who can squat 400 pounds+ fail at completing just one full pistol squat. Pistol squats requires more than strength; it requires balance and coordination, and this carries over to the field, court and track. Strength with coordination will increase your power output therefore increasing your speed and vertical leap. It also helps balance the strength of your legs equally as most of us are dominate on one side than the other.

In my training days our coach had us do nothing but pistols for weeks at a time, and when it was time to hit the Squat rack – WOW! Our strength gain was incredible; our play on the field was faster, and I dunked!

The video below is a good example of how to perform a pistol squat…. and not to discourage anyone, but at first you probably wont be able to do even one pistol squat especially at the starting phase, and using a bench or chair for assistance is necessary. But don’t be discouraged as you will gain much strength very quickly doing pistols.

Please be aware that the pistol exercise should be used in conjunction with a full body-training program. The pistol squat is only one piece of the puzzle – a large piece, no doubt – but for athletic success you must develop your body from head to toe. Good luck.


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