I recently stopped doing front squats due to bicep tendonitis in my left arm and I peaked at 215 for 5 reps. So now since I am unable to do front squats due to this tendonitis I have picked up pistol squats. Currently I am able to do 30 lbs for 5 reps.

I have three questions

  1. Are pistol squats as good for leg strength gains and muscular hypertrophy as front or back squats are as it requires far more balance so not as much weight can be used. Reason I ask is I don't feel any DOMs the next day after doing them.

  2. Are weighted pistol squats safe for the knee? Sometimes I worry I might tear something in my knee as I go ass to grass.

  3. Would doing pistol squats improve my front or back squat max if I were ever to do these exercises again? If so is there formula to find my front/back max from my pistol max?


1 Answer 1

  1. DOMS is not directly indicative of how effective a workout is, so because you don't feel them doesn't mean its not an effective workout. As for how good pistol squats are for hypertrophy, they obviously won't be as effective as regular squats as you are moving much less weight, however you will likely see more strength in your accessory muscles than you otherwise might.

  2. It depend on how you define "knee". Since pistol squats will be done with less weight on a per knee basis the joint itself will under go less stress that during a regular squat. However, there will be more rotational and side-to-side forces as you have a less stable base to balance on, meaning more work and stress on underworked or accessory muscles that support the knee. If you start pistol squats form low or no loading and slowly work up to higher weights (just like any other exercise) your knees and the muscles around it should be in no more danger than any other squat.

  3. Given that pistol squats require significantly more work from your assistance muscles to maintain balance its very hard to estimate who your front or back squat numbers would be for a pistol squat. However it would probably be at least in the order of 3 times if not significantly more (2 times for each leg plus some more).

  • Just curious I googled auxiliary muscles and it came up with accessory muscles. Is that what you meant? Jul 23, 2014 at 15:10
  • Yeah, thats the term I meant.
    – user2861
    Jul 23, 2014 at 23:46

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