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  1. #11
    Jason M is offline Junior Member
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    For those that mention one leg squatting with a barbell--I am inclined to believe that the KB version is far harder than a barbell version of equal weight, unless the barbell is racked in front of the body, as with a front squat. Remember, squatting with a 140 lb barbell on your back is nothing compared to squatting with two 70 lb kettlebells. Applying the same logic, I am just inclined to believe KB pistols are far more difficult than barbell pistols, though I cannot prove this.

  2. #12
    Karate Pipes is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Steinberg View Post
    I have never done a pistol with more than my own bodyweight. My personal best is +163 x 1R, 1L at a bodyweight of 171.

    Full 1-legged squats (pistols) were seemingly a bit more popular as a challenge lift for lifters in the pre-1960's-1970's. Supposedly, Carlin Venus did a single with a 305 lb barbell.

    In a previous post, I believe someone mentioned watching an NFL punter make 315 at 235 bodyweight (also on a barbell).
    This kind of post is the reason i come here

  3. #13
    Karate Pipes is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason M View Post
    For those that mention one leg squatting with a barbell--I am inclined to believe that the KB version is far harder than a barbell version of equal weight, unless the barbell is racked in front of the body, as with a front squat. Remember, squatting with a 140 lb barbell on your back is nothing compared to squatting with two 70 lb kettlebells. Applying the same logic, I am just inclined to believe KB pistols are far more difficult than barbell pistols, though I cannot prove this.
    i tend to be a BW guy, but im not sure about this, jason

    Several people on here have said that the very act ofd holding a kb in front makes the pistol easier. i know guys who can ONLY do a pistol with a kb, or they over balance...

    not sure if this applies with the big old weights you guys are talking about tossin around tho!!

  4. #14
    Jeff Steinberg is offline Senior Member
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    Jason M,

    While regular squats are easier with a barbell than with a kettlebell, pistols are much harder with a barbell. With pistols, the kettlebell's offset weight improves balance substantially (test it out yourself!). Doing a pistol with a racked barbell (front or back, not zercher) requires much more flexibility than a pistol with a racked kettlebell. Holding 300 lbs offset isn't practical though - especially while balanced on one leg - so all the huge pistols still seem to be done with a barbell.

    Quote Originally Posted by geoplaten View Post
    Jeff, that is an amazingly honest - and humble - post.

    I understand that the financial motivation isn't there for an MJD, but do you think it would improve his athletic performance if he did work on something like pistols, or do you think he has, by conscious choice or not, already found what works best for him? He's an interesting example, because superficially, he almost looks out of shape - it's amazing to me that he runs as fast as he does, given his physique. But perhaps those extra pounds give him what Dan John refers to as armor.

    Good luck on your squat goal. I hope you realize that the rest of us view you (and a few others) as the MJD(s) of the site.
    Geoplaten,

    Thank you. I really appreciate the compliments and encouragement, even if I downplay the worth of my personal accomplishments in the big picture. With the exception of the few who've been there for my entire lifting career, most don't really recognize the intense mediocrity of my beginnings (the first time I squatted 95 lbs, with 2 legs, it was HARD!), the degree to which I've battered myself training through injuries (through a broken clavicle, a dislocated elbow, etc), struggled through plateaus, etc. If anything, I would say that I'm an example of the progress/achievement that is possible for an extremely persistent, driven, ambitious individual with remarkably average genetics. My progress has always been slow, but I've managed to stay focused and keep gutting out seemingly fruitless training sessions for over a decade, while most people get distracted or lose heart if they go even a few months without progress. For what it's worth, the people I've assisted for prolonged periods always tended to surpass me in many lifts within a couple years.

    I go back and forth about whether an exercise like the pistol helps the top physical specimens (like an NFL RB). My gut feeling is that at least at young ages, guys who make it to the NFL, world-class wrestlers, etc. all have such incredible natural speed, explosive strength, and coordination that so long as you don't do anything to compromise their natural facilities or health, just about any balanced training system will elicit a positive response. Basically, anything that doesn't hurt them helps them. Beyond that, it comes down to identifying each individual's needs, which change over time as the athlete becomes older, loses flexibility and becomes more vulnerable to joint damage, recovers slower, etc. (as with any other trainee).

    Elite athletes are an interesting topic of discussion. For example, despite being 6'4, 345 lbs, and in no way svelte, I remember reading that Haloti Ngata's best mile time since joining the NFL is faster than my lifetime best, making him faster than me over long and short distances. While not great at running, I've always been decent enough at it that this is a total contradiction to the teachings of my personal life experience. Go figure.

  5. #15
    smith k is offline Junior Member
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    Wow.

    I was not expecting to see posts about 300 pound pistols. That blows my mind.

    In regards to Jeff's post about average people putting in a lot of work a little youtubing found me this video

    YouTube - Double Bodyweight Pistol Squats The guy does a 2x bodyweight pistol and if I seen him walking down the road I would in no way expect that kind of athleticism from him. Unreal what people can do when they put their minds to it.

    Jeff would you mind sharing a rough outline of how you started training pistols and how you worked your way up to your current PR.

  6. #16
    geoplaten is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Steinberg View Post
    If anything, I would say that I'm an example of the progress/achievement that is possible for an extremely persistent, driven, ambitious individual with remarkably average genetics. My progress has always been slow, but I've managed to stay focused and keep gutting out seemingly fruitless training sessions for over a decade, while most people get distracted or lose heart if they go even a few months without progress.
    Thanks for the thorough response, Jeff. I think you underrate yourself - the above quality is far more rare than exceptional physical gifts.

    One of the reasons I asked about MJD and pistols was that I watched a clip on Sunday of James Harrison (star linebacker for the Steelers, if you don't follow the NFL) and he was working out. He had some impressive weight on a bar, appeared to be doing around 500 lb squats for reps, but he wasn't going very deep. It briefly shot through my head that he might be even better with better form, then I came to a similar realization to what you said about MJD, that he is so exceptional that he is getting a lot out of whatever he's doing.

  7. #17
    Jeff Steinberg is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by smith k View Post
    Jeff would you mind sharing a rough outline of how you started training pistols and how you worked your way up to your current PR.
    Honestly, I was able to do a pistol with an additional 70 lbs the first time I ever attempted one. I'd already been training hard for 6 years, had a full back squat of 402 (@ ~158-165), and was squat cleaning ~242-253 for sets of 5. Add in some decent body control / flexibility developed via nearly a decade of grappling - the first pistols came easily to me. To go from +70 to +163, training pistols with a high frequency (up to every day) and low reps seemed to do the trick (nearly every training session I've ever done with weighted pistols was somewhere in the range of 2-10x1-3). Training different types of pistols seemed to help promote my flexibility and bottom position lower back strength. My favorite variation is with racked kettlebells, but using a barbell, cradled dumbbell, etc. is all good. The nice thing about pistols is that they never leave me exhausted for other things, unlike back squats / deadlifts.

    Please note: I didn't improve my 1RM pistol 93 lbs overnight. This improvement was pretty much evenly distributed over a period of 5 years without "growth spurts."


    With regards to going from 0 pistols to 1 pistol:
    For people who are in reasonable-ish physical condition, I use a progression that focuses on shoulder / torso alignment, balance, and body confidence, and requires a chain link fence, a sturdy pole / door frame, a light, but triangularly shaped object, and finally, a light medicine ball / kettlebell. I've actually had a 100% success rate helping people achieve a pistol with this progression. No real magic to the progression or equipment requirements. The steps are just about leading people through a self-discovery process in which they find and recognize the best alignment for balancing (and then squatting) on 1 leg, and giving them appropriate support structures to become increasingly confident in doing so.

    Quote Originally Posted by geoplaten View Post
    Thanks for the thorough response, Jeff. I think you underrate yourself - the above quality is far more rare than exceptional physical gifts.
    I probably could've expressed myself better. While I'm very average in terms of my innate physicality, I'm far more stubborn than most, and very patient / persistent. I am also excellent with numbers and analysis, so I derive a lot of value from my training log.

    Quote Originally Posted by geoplaten View Post
    ...I watched a clip on Sunday of James Harrison (star linebacker for the Steelers, if you don't follow the NFL) and he was working out. He had some impressive weight on a bar, appeared to be doing around 500 lb squats for reps, but he wasn't going very deep...he is so exceptional that he is getting a lot out of whatever he's doing.
    As a lifelong Ravens fan, I'm unfortunately far more aware of James Harrison than I wish to be. Like Ngata on the Ravens, he's just a physical abnormality. No matter how often Harrison makes hard contact with other enormous, fast, tough, powerful men, he never seems to take any damage. Maybe he's hurting, but just better at not showing it. At least in terms of outward appearances, though, I can't think of a more durable player. The man was born thick, tough, and explosive; anything he does to further develop those attributes is just icing on the cake.

    With a meatball like Harrison, (5'11 % ~255 if I remember correctly?) I can't help but hope he takes interest in strongman / powerlifting, post-NFL. Lesser physical specimens have put up 7-5-8 type gym numbers in the basic power lifts after leaving the NFL. The Sorinex gym down in SC has some former players performing grip feats no one can match (pro strongmen included).
    Last edited by Jeff Steinberg; 01-28-2011 at 06:30 AM.

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