Beast Strength Workout: TGU, Deadlift, & Pistol Squat

Looking for a lower body strength workout that can improve movement skill and leg conditioning?  Look no further.

The Deadlift is arguably the king of all strength exercises.  A strong argument can be made that the Pistol Squat is the zenith of lower body movement skill because it requires such high levels of balance, mobility and strength working in harmony.

Based on that logic I decided that if I want to reach my beast potential I had better start training them together, and so should you!

I wanted to improve my Deadlift (DL) numbers, but also improve my movement skill with the Pistol Squat, so I started toying with variations of a strength and skill workout combining the two.  After some fine tuning I cam up with this workout, which has given me some incredible gains in a relatively short period of time.

A1. Deadlift x 5 @ 75-80% of one rep max (1RM)

A2.  Pistol Squat x 1 (start with bodyweight/light weight and increase each set)

Complete 5-7 sets - Rest 90 seconds to 2 mins between sets

I'm sure you're thinking, "That's it!?"

That's almost it, but there are a few more things I'd like to share.

  1. You can't just jump into this workout.  Start with a Turkish Getup descending rep ladder using progressively heavier weights on each set.  I recommend TGU x 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (each side) before you start the DL/Pistol superset.  The TGU will activate your core, lats and posterior chain, and get your heart pumping.  I like to do the Barbell Turkish Getup because it prepares my grip for heavy Deadlifts and it's way more beast than a regular TGU. The first two sets of 4 and 5 reps respectively should be light, warm-up weight.  The last two sets should be pretty heavy.  If I'm feeling good after the last single rep attempt I will keep attempting singles with heavier weight until I don't feel like I can increase any more.
  2. The first time you do this workout start with a DL weight that is 75-80% of 1RM.  When you can complete 5 sets or more with a given weight increase by 5-10 lbs. on the next workout.
  3. Go directly from the DL to Pistols.  The DL will activate your core and posterior chain and have your nervous system primed for the Pistols so take advantage of that extra juice.  The idea with the pistols is to go heavy and deep.  Only one rep so make it perfect.
  4. If you nail a solid pistol on each side increase the weight on the next set.  This is called a weight ladder.  I use kettlebells when I do this workout so I increase by 4-8 kg increments on each set.
  5. Every third workout pyramid your pistol squat weight by increasing weight on the 2nd and 3rd set and then decreasing weight on the 4th and 5th set using the same weights you did on the 3rd and 1st set respectively.  This will give you the opportunity to attempt a heavier Pistol Squat on the 3rd set when you are primed for a big lift and not yet fatigued from the workout.
  6. When you need a little variation change the workout like this to shock your body. 

This is a video we took at 34 North this week. I was Deadlifting with 415 lbs. while my training partner Brian was taking care of his Pistols.

Check out this video of me doing a 135 lbs. BB TGU before this very same DL/Pistol workout.

A1. Deadlift x 3 @ heaviest 5RM weight

A2. Pistol Squat x 3 

A3. Sled Push x 40 yards

Complete 5 Rounds - Minimal Rest 

The key to success with this workout program is consistency and constant small increases in weight.  If you try to increase your weights too rapidly you will miss lifts and set yourself up for failure.  Going too heavy too fast is the surest way to injury or a frustrating training plateau with this workout.  The secret is to start the first workout lighter than you think and then to take small incremental jumps each week so that you are making progress every week without killing yourself.  Do that consistently and you will build a beast lower body and improve your movement skills.