The pistol squat is widely considered the ultimate bodyweight leg feat, requiring strength, stability and flexibility.

However, as always with calisthenics, the only limit is your imagination, and athletes are constantly looking for new ways to push their strength potential. Enter the dragon pistol squat!

Requiring greater levels of flexibility, strength and stability, the Dragon Pistol Squat is the ultimate bodyweight leg challenge.

Prerequisites

Before getting started on the dragon pistol squat, you must have a strict pistol squat and a shrimp squat under your belt.

Strict Pistol Squat

Strict Pistol Squat

The strict pistol squat involves keeping the non-working leg parallel to the ground throughout. This will really help with the strength and mobility required for a dragon pistol squat. Aim for 5 strict reps.

For more information on how to progress to the strict pistol squat, check out our detailed guide here.

Shrimp Squat

Shrimp Squat

The shrimp squat involves holding the ankle behind you and squatting backwards until your knee touches the ground, just behind your heel.

This will help build up the extra glute strength required for the dragon; once again aim for 5 clean reps.

Progressions

Alright so with those progressions under your belt, you have a strong base and decent mobility. Let us begin!

Mobility Drills

These are stretches and low intensity drills that you can do every day to improve your mobility for the dragon squat.

1. Deep Squat

Squat down into a deep squat, keep the heels on the ground, your chest high and butt low (keeping it off the ground).

Hold for 3 sets of one minute.

This will help open up your hips. The perfect squat should have your ankles, shoulders and ear in a nice straight line.

2. Close Leg Deep Squat

Close Leg Deep Squat

Most people will find this quite a bit harder than the deep squat, requiring more flexible ankles, as well as strength in your shin muscles (tibialis anterior).

Place your feet together. Squat down into a deep squat, with your chest high and butt low.

Hold for 3 sets of one minute.

3. Deep Pistol Squat With Leg Raise

Deep Pistol Squat With Leg Raise

Squat down into a deep pistol squat.

Once in this position, lift your non-working leg as high as you can, keeping the knee straight and pointing your toes

Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.

This will improve your mobility in the hips, as well as allowing you to lift the non-working leg higher; essential for locking down the dragon pistol squat.

4. Piriformis Stretch With Leg Raise

The standard piriformis stretch will help improve your flexibility for the dragon.

We can take this further by throwing in some active leg raises.

Ensure that you are sat upright on your buttocks and not leaning back, this will make it more difficult and target the right areas.

Point your toes, keep your knee straight and raise the leg as high as you can.

Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.

5. Assisted Deep Dragon Pistol Squat With Leg Raise

Assisted Deep Dragon Pistol Squat With Leg Raise

Hold onto a sturdy object and get yourself down into the bottom position of the dragon.

From here, point your toes, keep the knee straight and lift your leg as high as you can.

Repeat this for 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Dragon Pistol Squat Form

Ensure Your Knee Tracks the Toes

As with all squats, it’s really important to make sure your knee stays inline with your toes, don’t allow it to roll in.

This is especially challenging with the twisting nature of the dragon pistol squat, so progress as slow as required.

Try and Keep the Non-Working Leg Off the Ground

This one is less of a safe one and more a good form tip.

To get the full benefits of the dragon, you should keep the non working leg off the ground at all times.

Dragon Pistol Squat Progressions

These are high intensity exercises that will build up the strength and mobility to get you to the dragon pistol squat.

Perform 5 sets of 5 reps, no more than twice a week.

Do some lower intensity, higher rep pistol squat work 2-3 times a week to compliment this.

1. Curtsy Shrimp Squat

The curtsy shrimp squat is the first progression to take the non-working leg behind the other leg.

It’s very tough on the glutes and will help build the strength needed to get the dragon.

Start Position
Curtsey Shrimp Squat - Start Position
  • Stand on one leg with the opposite arm out in front for balance.
  • With the same hand as the working leg, grab your opposite ankle and pull it up towards your butt.
Execution
Curtsey Shrimp Squat - Execution
  • Squat down, bring your non-working knee behind and to the side of your working leg.
  • Aim to touch the ground if you can.
  • From there, push through your heel and squat back up.

2. Curtsy Airborne Lunge

The curtsy airborne lunge increases the range of motion that your glutes must go through, thus making it more challenging.

Start Position
  • Stand on one leg, with both arms out in front for balance.
Execution
  • Squat down, bring your non-working leg behind and to the side of your working leg.
  • Aim to get it as far away from your body as you can.
  • Squat as low as possible, whilst maintaining good form.
  • Push through your heel and squat back up.

3. Elevated Dragon Pistol Squat

The first progression to take you into the dragon pistol squat movement.

Utilises an object to allow your non-working leg to go lower than the working leg, thus reducing some of the mobility requirements.

Start Position
  • Stand on one leg on the edge of a box, bench or whatever you have available.
  • Put your arms out in front of you for balance.
Execution
Elevated Dragon Pistol Squat - Execution
  • Squat down, bring your non-working leg behind and to the side of your working leg, allowing the leg to go below the box.
  • Now bring it back round in front of you into the dragon pistol squat.
  • Push through your heel and squat back up.

4. Assisted Dragon Pistol Squat

In this progression you will guide the leg into position using your hand.

This makes the challenge quite a bit easier than a full dragon, whilst still being a very challenging exercise.

Start Position
Assisted Dragon Pistol Squat - Start Position
  • Stand on one leg, with your opposite hand out in front for balance.
Execution
  • Squat down, bring your non-working leg behind and to the side of your working leg.
  • As soon as you can reach it, grab your toes with the same arm as your working leg.
  • Guide the foot around until it is straight out in front of you.
  • Try to avoid touching the floor, though this will probably happen at first.
  • Squat back up to the start position.

5. Dragon Pistol Squat

So your assisted dragon pistol squats are getting quite easier now, without your foot touching the ground.

Then it’s time to nail the full dragon pistol squat!

Start Position
Dragon Pistol Squat - Start Position
  • Stand on one leg, with your opposite hand out front for balance.
Execution
  • Squat down, bring your non-working leg behind and to the side of your working leg.
  • Bring the foot around until it is straight out in front of you.
  • Try to avoid touching the floor.
  • Squat back up to the start position.

Congratulations, you’ve just unlocked one of the most difficult pistol squat variations!