Thursday, July 23, 2009

Powerful Tip for Better Pistols

Watch this video to figure out how I was able to learn pistols on my weaker left leg.

Another reason why keeping your first metatarsal was explained to me through an e-mail by Senior RKC Geoff Neupert. Geoff says the following:

"Also, another reason to keep the big toe down is the flexor hallicus longus runs from the big toe to the tibia - it is an ankle plantar flexor. But when the foot is down, like in the pistol, and the knee comes forward, it is stretched. It then becomes a knee extensor - as it contracts it pulls the tibia back on top of the ankle, therefore acting on the knee from below..."

To learn more tips from myself and Geoff click the following: More Tips


Donnie said...

Thanks so much for the video, pistols have always been my most challenging excercise. It's refreshing to know that even people who are as experienced as you have chalenges with some of the excercises.

Casey said...

Thanks Franz! Pistols are the bane of my training, but this is exactly what I needed to figure out that bottom position. Looking forward to more tips!

mc said...

Franz, totally appreciate such a really grounded pistol tip. Thank you for sharing. awesome.

i am going over G's point about the f.h.l. though and i'm really not sure what part of the pistol this is acting on ? Can we break this down?

"Also, another reason to keep the big toe down is the flexor hallicus longus runs from the big toe to the tibia - it is an ankle plantar flexor."

ok not a big dif but the muscle inserts into the fibula - the smaller of the two lower leg bones. and it's a weak plantar flexor.

"But when the foot is down, like in the pistol, "

ok, when the foot is on the floor, as when one is standing or squatting, check? in other words when the foot is in neutral?

"and the knee comes forward, it is stretched. It then becomes a knee extensor "

this is the part i don't see. yes there may be some stretch, but that stretch doesn't as far as i can tell act on the knee; it still acts on the ankle as an antagonist to flexion - in other words when the knee comes forward the foot position, if you stuck the foot out would look like its dorsiflexing, no?

"- as it contracts it pulls the tibia back on top of the ankle, therefore acting on the knee from below..."

again, that's the part i don't get from where the muscles insert. THe movement is around the ankle, not around the knee. This becomes obvious, it seems, if you are down in the rock bottom part of the squat, and just rock back and forth: there's no movement at the knees, but there is a pivot over the ankle.

so i'm keen to understand what i'm missing.

again awesome tip. Geoff with his pressing tip and this with your pistol tip. absolutely awesome.

stuck with bodyweight pistols. how get from here to a 24 i ask you?

Tyciol said...

Thanks for making this guide, I am always looking for pistol tips, it is so hard to learn!

Franz Snideman said...


You are welcome! I definitely have struggles with my left leg pistol for years. Us instructors have our issues to :)

Please keep me posted on your progress!

Franz Snideman said...


Yes, let me know how it works for you. Pistols are challenging for sure...but much of it is just knowing how to direct your strength in the right direction. More tips to come :)

Franz Snideman said...


Glad this helped! Give it and try and keep us updated on how you progress!!!

Franz Snideman said...


Thanks for the correction on the FHL attaching on the fibula and not the Tibia. You are right....I just looked on page 263 in the book "Anatomy of Movement."

I'm not sure how to answer your questions about the FHL acts on the knee. It does help give support for the medial arch of the foot which indirectly would help knee and hip function (neurologically I assume the brain would prefer a strong medial arch.

I'll have to let Geoff chime in on this one.

Is your goal to pistol the 24kg? That is a lot of weight to pistol. Why not start with an 8kg or 12kg...well....I'm sure you have already pistoled those weights, right?

mc said...

Franz, that would be great. As far as i know from kinesiology unless a muscle/tendon crosses that joint it doesn't act on that joint.
for instance the plantaris is a wee muscle that crosses the knee joint and the ankle joint - so it's a weak plantar flexor and a weak knee flexor.

as far as i know the only things that extend the knee are the quads.

and yes 24 is a lot of weight but it's for the bete challenge :) and i have all the time in the world :)

thanks again for the great post. good luck with your left leg work. it's so satisfying to feel something start to work when it hasn't before, eh?


Keats Snideman said...

Like you Franz, pistols are very hard for me and as your twin, I've been doing the EXACT mistake you were making (lifting my medial side of the forefoot off the ground).

I will start putting this great tip to work! I'm excited to FINALLY take the RKC later in August!

Franz Snideman said...

MC, yes, it feels great to have something work in your body that has been "lame" for so long. Looking forward to seeing you Pistol the 24kg :)

Franz Snideman said...


Keep up those will be doing great pistols if you apply the tips from the video. I am very excited to have you take the RKC and have you become part of the extended RKC community!!!!!

"Chancho.....I need to barrow some sweats......"

Boris said...

Good video Franz.

I learned to do pistols off a step in a hotel pool, and then from bottom -> up in the gym. Took some time before the eccentric was not scary, but once I learned where the hips should be positioned, it was not bad for me.

Look forward to the next video!


Geoff Neupert said...

mc & Franz,

Yes, I misspoke - it is the fibula. Excuse me.

Here's how it acts on the knee:

Foot is planted. Shift the weight forward into the foot, FHL stretches, right? It contracts as you push your foot into the floor to stand up. So yes it does "act on the ankle" but it also aids in pulling the lower leg back to vertical.

Make sense?

This is I believe what PT, Gary Gray calls "functional biomechanics" - what the body does in movement as opposed to lying on a slab...

Let me know if that makes sense...

If you want to play with this, try it when squatting, not pistols. Allow the weight to drift forward a little bit into the toes. Feel the difference when ascending. It fires up the entire posterior chain. Then apply that to your pistol...

howard said...


Thank you, thank you, thank you for this video. I was having the exact same problem with my left leg. Imagine something so subtle can cause a big difference. Now, I'm still not very strong on my left leg, but yesterday I did 2 x 5 assisted pistols with a 3 lb counterweight on my left leg. Also, I was able to get into the bottom position of an unassisted pistol on my left leg WITHOUT FALLING!!!

Before yesterday, I could have only done one pistol on my left leg with 3 lb counterweight on a good day, and I would have been falling all over the place. Thanks again!!

Franz Snideman said...

Howard, this is great news!

So glad the videos helped!


Eric Kenyon RKC said...

Franz, any advice on the free foot dipping down into the ground in the beginning of the ascent? Not me obviously, Alison still struggling.