November 16, 2011
November 21, 2011

Pistols have been popping up as skill work a lot recently, but skill work without application isn’t really beneficial.

Pistol Work

While pistols may seem like a parlor trick, their application to all aspects of fitness is undeniable. Pistols demand that we constantly exert power through-out the entire range of motion, all while on only one leg. Beyond mere strength, pistol squats also require balance, flexibility, coordination and endurance.

Working on pistols in a controlled environment, such as a skill session, you can focus on your specific weakness in the movement, concentrating intensely to overcome what ever holds you back. However, in a chaotic environment, such as Thursday’s metcon, focusing solely on one piece of the movement will often create more problems. It it’s for exactly this reason that we put skill movements, like the pistol, into workouts.

5 x
3 Power Cleans,
6 Pistols,
9 Bar-Facing Burpees (“BarFees”)

Weight for the cleans wasn’t really RX’d, though a good working weight for guys was set around 135, with women around 95. Pistol scaling was based on performance in the preceding skill session: anyone who could maintain control to just above parallel and then stand back up, unassisted, was allowed to perform strap-assisted pistols during the workout. Anyone unable to maintain that level of control were scaled to 8 single-leg floor touches.

BarFees = perform a standard burpee, but instead of jumping and clapping overhead, simply jump over the barbell. That equals 1 rep. Results:

So, usually I close out posts with a “great job” or “awesome work,” but what impressed me most about yesterday’s workouts was the camaraderie and support everyone gave to their fellow CFDCers; because of the size of the evening classes, we ran two heats per class, and, to a member, no one wandered off, or went upstairs to do something else while they waited, or even went home early after they were done. Instead, everyone stuck around, helped out, and cheered each other on. Find me a globo-gym where that’ll happen, and I’ll invest in a membership. I’m guessing my money’s safe, though.



  1. edgy reggie says:

    It was good to be back after a few days off. However, the bar-facing burpees [I refuse to call them “BarFees” because the first four letters of that term make me think of something unpleasant :-)] destroyed me (more so than being “pistol whipped”).

    I did…okay on the strap-assisted pistol squats; I had some balance problems here-and-there. Also, I was trying to concentrate on pulling my shoulders back. Pistols are definitely on my “goat” list, and I will keep working at improving them.

    I used 135# for the power cleans, and I felt fine with that.

    All-in-all, it was a good session. Thanks to Alden for keeping count of my completed rounds. Thanks to everyone (especially to Alden, Julia, and Tom A.) for the motivation.

    “Not too bad for an old man.” – CFDC’s own ODB

  2. Steph says:

    Ha, barfees. I like it!

    And Chris, I agree with you completely on the last point you mentioned. I think the camaraderie of CFDC is what makes a lot of us keep coming back. And the attentive coaching at CFDC, of course!

    That was a tough workout. I couldn’t stop coughing after it. I can’t remember the last time a workout left me in that state. Since the hip has been fairly stable lately, Chris told me to try to go heavier and do the barfees as prescribed. Used 75lbs for the cleans and did regular pistols. The barfees were rough and I found myself landing really hard after the jump, a result of being out of shape and not jumping for more than a year. I was trying to keep up with Julia, who killed me on the barfees. She’s so quick!

    Doing pistols in a workout like that was definitely much harder than doing them in the skill sessions. The legs were burning and it required a lot more to stay tight and keep balance.

    Great class! Looking forward to Sunday!

    And if you haven’t responded to the CFDC holiday party email, please do so before Sunday!!! Thank you!

  3. Erica says:

    I triple echo the sentiments regarding comraderie. Came in for a workout on day one, leave each day sore and smiling.

    Pistols are brutal and I think I finally go a hang of them at the end (assisted), but did floor touches during the metcon. On a few of them, I kept falling forward so had to do a few extra to make them count. I pulled 70# on the cleans, most of which I pulled early and didn’t shrug enough, but it’s a work in process. As my shins were badly beaten up, I did stepurbies (burpies with a step over) instead. Great to watch everyone work as hard as they did! TGIF

  4. A.T. Alden says:

    Reggie, thank you for keeping the count on the burfees; I was so disoriented jumping across that thing that I had no idea what rep or round it was.

    135# on the cleans, assisted pistols, lovely barfees = 7:14.

  5. Sara says:

    I got the chance to try out my new Oly bar. I ended up with 97lbs on the bar since it was a 15kg bar.

    I did single leg RDLs instead of pistols because of my knee.

    I felt like I went slow on this workout.

  6. Katie says:

    During the warmup, I was able to touch my knees to the ground in the backward lunges — a big deal for me because when I tried to do that a month ago, my legs collapsed. It’s exciting to have proof I’m getting stronger.

    I’m not totally comfortable with cleans yet, so I did two rounds of shrug/high pull with a 45# bar in place of the power cleans. Great substitution. I did the 8 floor touches, and scaled with 6 barfees. The barfees slowed me down, even more so than normal burpees do, because I was hesitant jumping over the bar…I really didn’t want to fall face-first into the floor. Hopefully I can overcome that hesitation and trust my body can do it.