Best Single Leg Compound Exercise (Modified pistol squat with reverse flys


One of the very best ways to lose weight and get fit is to eat a healthy diet and do compound exercises, aka full-body or multi-joint exercises, with or without weights. The more limbs/body parts you involve in an exercise, the more calories you’ll burn and the more functional strength you’ll build. If you’re like most people, you’ll realize that, as we age, it’s becomes increasingly important to develop great functional strength. Of course, we still want to look great and have firm, toned bodies. Paying attention to functional fitness doesn’t preclude developing a good-looking body.

Another component of fitness that is often overlooked is to ensure your body is symmetrically strong and mobile. Meaning, you don’t want to have one leg that’s stronger or more flexible than the other. In the long run, that usually leads to injuries and I’m sure you want to avoid those. Single leg exercises also help you develop much needed balance, something we tend to lose as we get older. So, in addition to focusing on compound exercises in your workout, include a few one-legged exercises. I’m going to show you step-by-step how to do my modified version of a pistol squat to reverse fly and leg extension. You should absolutely add it to your routine for a well-rounded full body workout.

  1. Because this exercise requires good ankle mobility, start by stretching your ankles. I have poor ankle mobility, so I spend a couple of minutes on each leg. Don’t worry about the knee going past the toes. If your knee feels okay doing this stretch, it’s okay for you to do it. You should always listen to your body and let that be the guide for the exercises you do. Obviously, if something hurts, don’t do it. Keep in mind that, often, it’s only a matter of how you position your knee and foot that makes it feel “wrong” or painful. Try shifting the position slightly before you give up on an exercise.
  2. Get into the starting position by crouching into a ball on the floor like I’m doing in the video. Place your hands at the sides/in front of your body and lean forward, putting your weight onto your thigh. It’s okay if the spine is slightly curved at the bottom of the exercise. One foot is planted on the floor, preferably the whole sole, while the other is bent next to it, toes on the ground. As much as possible, maintain the heel on the ground at all times.
  3. Push with your hands and through your foot–shifting your hips backward if your knee hurts at any point–until you get into a standing position, leaning forward with a neutral spine. Extend the non-standing leg behind you, arms out to the sides in a reverse fly. Find your balance and hold for a couple of seconds while you drive your thumbs up to the ceiling.
  4. If it’s too challenging to start all the way from the ground because you’re too weak, stiff and/or your joints hurt, begin the exercise from a higher starting position. Also, end in a less crouched position.
  5. If your balance is very bad, do this exercise on a mat with no furniture/gym equipment nearby, as you may fall down.
  6. Repeat the exercise up to eight times on each leg for two or three sets.
  7. Add small weights to your hands when you get so good at it, it becomes easy. Make sure your spine is straight/neutral at all times, especially if you use weights. Loading a curved spine is a bad idea. Start with two-three pounds and increase. If you prefer, use tubing instead of weights. Last, if you want to, you can also add ankle weights to your leg.

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