Training gymnastics skills like the pistol requires some creativity and change in perspective. Join Carl Paoli, owner of Naka Athletics and a trainer at San Francisco CrossFit, as he shares his tips for working on the movement.
In Part 1, Paoli focuses on squatting mechanics to create a stable, powerful base for the pistol.
“Ideally, when we are under really heavy loads, what we want to do is add tension or add torque for that hip to be able to get out of that hole more efficiently and have more power,” he says.
Paoli helps SFCF athlete Lucas Robinson work toward his first pistol with squatting progressions that test the limits of Robinson’s flexibility. Paoli says mobility should be our first priority.
“When that hip mobility isn’t there, it’s just hard to get into position,” he says.
In Part 2, Paoli drills Robinson using a narrow stance for squatting.
“The narrower the base of support in the beginning, the more you’ll be able to translate it to a pistol later on,” Paoli says.
He uses box squatting and gradually lowers the squat target by raising Robinson off the ground with plates. Once Robinson is able to squat below parallel on two legs, he tries pistols to a box using band assistance.
Paoli also shows another approach to pistol progressions to make them more dynamic. He uses gymnastics rolling and the hollow-body position.
“A lot of athletes that we see that have a hard time getting down into these positions, when they learn how to do this roll and get a little bit of momentum into it, they get into the right positions, they’re able to stand up out of it, and they’re starting to build traction from a different perspective.”
Video by Again Faster.
Additional reading: The Crane Dip and Other Pistol Variations by Steve Cotter, published April 1, 2007.