4 Way Hip and Leg Flexibility with One Legged Squats

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There is always more to learn…

At the recent Progressive Calisthenics Certification where I was helping out I still knew I would come away from the weekend with new insights.

While there were many small tips and tricks I’d like to focus on one of the biggest ideas I learned.

And that was how you can do different types of one legged squats, and each type focuses on flexibility in a different way.

In fact there are four positions; front, back, inside and outside.

You’re probably familiar with the pistol squat as it is the most famous of the one legged squats. It was the first one I learned.


Then there is the airborne lunge. Also called the hover lunge or the shrimp squat. The flexibility challenge increases if you grab the rear leg with one hand, and even more so with both hands.

Airborn Lunge

Those two are fairly common, if you’ve been in the bodyweight game for a while. In this video I explain some of the differences between the two.

Although I’ve seen the next two, I’ve never really worked on them personally. When I find a gap in my skillset I then work to fill it.

The Hawaiian squat has the non-working leg turned to the outside with the foot or ankle resting on the thigh of the working leg.

As you squat down it is similar to the half lotus position from yoga, and is thus also called a half lotus squat. This can be done on the ball of the foot, or slightly differently flat footed.

The outer flexibility of the hip will be challenge to a good degree. As this has always been one of my less flexible areas this will be a fun challenge to conquer.

Then you have our final variation, bringing the non-working leg to the inside. Actually it’s to the rear and inside and might be hard to picture. That’s why a picture is worth a thousand words. This picture of Al Kavado demonstrates the bottom position.


The regular dragon squat works in this plane, but on two legs. It’s a more difficult version of the regular lunge. Of course, when the strength and flexibility is there, it can be done on a single leg.

Thus the dragon pistol squat is born. This is an odd challenge of flexibility in several spots, not to mention the coordination involved.

It starts like a shrimp squat but the leg is taken out behind and across the opposite side. To get to a rock bottom squat it will need to be extended as you go down.

For those of you more advanced in your bodyweight training, see if you can master not just one but all four of these one legged squat variations.

I’ll be working on it myself!

For much more on squat training with bodyweight check out The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Squats and Pistols. Another great guide is Al’s Pushing the Limits, which covers squats and much more.

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