The Pistol, or one leg squat is a simple exercise that requires a high degree of tension and specific balance. It can be made more challenging by adding weights in the form of barbell plates, kettlebells, or even rocks in a knapsack. Where you hold the weights is also a variable. You can hold the bell in front of you by the horns, ‘handcuffed’ behind you in the hack position, at your side, ‘suitcase style’ , racked at the shoulders, or locked off overhead. In the case of the racked or locked off position, you also have the variable of loading both arms or one arm or the opposite arm.

A few years ago, a gentleman using Indian Clubs suggested cleaning the ‘clubs and then descending into a pistol. He called this variation a “Shotgun”. I guess this implied that the new exercise had the potential for more firepower in the form of balance, stability, torso strength, and sheer grit.
Using kettlebells or dumbells for this variation would be doable with a slow one legged deadlift eccentric, with a slightly more explosive concentric to a one legged clean. Then proceed with the pistol. This would give you a KB Shotgun.

A mainstay of many conditioning programs is the “Thruster”. It is a front squat followed by a press. This exercise uses large amounts of bodymass and therefore it’s impact is dramatic. It can be done heavy and slow with lots of rest for size and strength, or light and fast for metabolic conditioning. One set of these is all it takes to convince the skeptic.

How about a more challenging, but elegant form of a “Thruster”? Well let’s try the “Derringer”. A derringer is a small caliber gun. At close quarters, it has a bold effect. I grew up watching actor, Richard Boone, in the TV show, “Paladin”. He carried a regular side arm, and a hidden derringer. His motto was, “Have Gun, Will Travel”. I later carried a derringer doing security work. The idea of simplicity and effectiveness seems to be common sense.
Let’s apply the gun analogy to “Thrusters”. Why not rack a kettlebell with one arm, proceed to a racked pistol, then on the concentric or positive motion, use your leg thrust and hip snap to drive the kettlebell out of the rack to a overhead press? Can it be done? You tell me! Remember, the kettlebell can be held with either hand and this further challenges the pressurizing and stabilizing skills of the trainee. The important idea here is to lighten the load and error on the side of caution. Build up slowly to allow time for the nervous system to organize an efficient process of skill development.

And if that is not enough of a challenge, and you want to go beyond the cutting edge to the bloody edge,…try the “Bang Stick”. That would be a one kettlebell clean (one legged deadlift, followed by an explosive clean), to racked pistol, then an overhead jerk/press. Try hopping to the other leg and repeating. Tabata format anyone??

When it comes to exercise, as the saying goes,..”The mind is the ultimate weapon, all else is supplementary.”

–Tom Furman