Jessica Biel’s pistol squats are intense — here’s why squats are one of the best exercises
If you can master a pistol squat like Jessica Biel, your butt will be thanking you later.
A true pistol squat, for those unaware, is a one-legged squat where your extended leg is straight out in front of you, without touching the ground.
“It is a very challenging exercise and shouldn’t be attempted until you can master a basic squat,” said personal trainer Amanda Thebe.
TV and movie star Biel recently posted a video on Instagram, showing off not only her core strength, but also her ability to master the challenging exercise on a box.
“Hey, Emmy, my butt is coming for you. (Assuming I can walk after these pistol squats),” she wrote on the social media site.
The benefit of squats
If you can master a proper squat with proper form, they’re not just good for building a butt, Women’s Health magazine noted. “They strengthen pretty much every muscle in your lower body, including your thighs, core, calves, glutes, hamstrings, and abs.”
Amanda Thebe doing the pistol squat.
Before you attempt any type of squat, start with a basic squat: “First, stand as tall as you can with your feet spread shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Push yourself back to the starting position while squeezing your glutes. That’s one rep,” the site notes.
Thebe adds standard bilateral squats are a basic human pattern that people use in fitness to improve range of motion in other parts of their bodies.
As Men’s Journal noted, for men, in particular, squats enhance the core, increase flexibility and help reduce your chance of getting injured down the road.
Some experts, like Dr. Stuart Phillips of McMaster University, told the New York Times Magazine squats were one of the best exercises anyone could do. “[The squat] activates the body’s biggest muscles, those in the buttocks, back and legs,” he told the magazine. “It’s a very potent exercise.”
The best types of squats
Before you commit to any type of squat (and we don’t suggest starting with a pistol one), do a full scan on how your body and joints feel after a workout.
“If you struggle with tightness or pain in your ankle, knee or hip joints, the best place to start is a bodyweight squat,” Thebe explained.
“Over time if practised on a regular basis, your squat will feel easier as you develop more range of motion. At that stage, you can start to load the squat with weights.”
Here are some of Thebe’s favourite squats:
Goblet squat: Often done with a kettlebell, start by holding one close to your chest. Do a full squat, focusing on range and motion, before fully coming back up.
Staggered stance squat: Staggered stance squats include doing a squat in a staggered stance, keeping your chest up and core tight.
Single-leg box squat: Start by using a box or another object, making sure when you sit down on it, your legs create a 90-degree angle. Hold one leg up and do a squat, making sure your knee doesn’t go in front of your toes.
Bottom-up squats: This involves starting the movement at the bottom of the squat and holding it for three seconds. Keep your back straight, chest up or keep it rounded.
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