The Shrimp Squat

Shrimp SquatIf you think pistol squats are the be-all-and-end-all of bodyweight leg exercises, think again. The shrimp squat is a challenging single-leg bodyweight movement that can humble any sharpshooting pistol squatter.

Instead of being positioned in front of the body as it is with the pistol, when you perform a shrimp squat, your non-squatting leg is held behind the body.

As a result, the movement pattern becomes more hip-driven, which almost makes it closer to a lunge than a squat.

To perform a shrimp squat, begin in an upright position, then bend one knee so you can grab your ankle behind your back (just like you would if you were stretching your quads). From here, slowly lower yourself down until your knee touches the ground, then stand back up. Easier said than done!

When performing the shrimp squat, reach your free arm out in front to counterbalance the weight of your leg behind you. Like most other squats, you’ll need to pitch your chest forward on the way up to keep from falling backwards.

To regress the shrimp squat, you can try holding both arms in front of your body. Conversely, you can place both arms behind your back to make the move more difficult. This will put you at a serious mechanical disadvantage, plus you’ll no longer be able to use your free arm for balance.

You can also stand on an elevated surface to increase the range of motion for an additional challenge.

Watch the video below for more:


31 thoughts on “The Shrimp Squat

  • By Char(PSI Tutor:Mentor) -

    So I got a hamstring cramp on the way up ~:-)))

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Yeah this one is a doozy! You might need to do some remedial leg work before trying again. Don't give up, though! 🙂

  • By Miss Healthy -

    Ok, so just when I thought nothing could be more difficult than the pistol squat, you throw this at me and totally blow my mind! I'm likin' what I'm seein'. Thanks for sharing!

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  • By Al Kavadlo -

    No prob! Everybody needs a good humbling now and again. 🙂

  • By Karlmacphee -

    Wow! I just gave this a shot and failed! Will work on warming up first, then another attempt! Thanks for this.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      You’re welcome, Karl. I couldn’t do a shrimp squat the first time I tried it either!

  • By Joe -


    I noticed that your knee comes out over your foot. I have trouble doing the Pistols without doing so. Many training professionals say to never let the knee come out beyond your toes and to keep your weight on your heel. Could just be an old bodybuilder wives tale. What do you think? I love this exercise, but don’t want to hurt my knees. Thanks!

  • By Timmy Turdburgler -

    This exercise just screams “homosexual”. I don’t want to be sodomized in the gym locker room so I don’t think I’ll be doing this exercise.

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  • By DinkinFlicka -

    I thought I had this when I was going down…but as I tried to come up…yeah…

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Haha yeah – the getting up tends to be the hard part!

      • By Emaildiko -

        I found it easier to go from bottom up. I felt that i was going to smash my knee too hard going top down i will try again when its not 1:30am.

        • By Al Kavadlo -

          Good point – and good plan!

  • By Rob White -

    Hey Al, would practising the Airborne Lunge (aka King Deadlift) be a good pre-cursor to preparing for the Shrimp Squat?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Hey Rob – I think that’s a nice precursor.  In fact, it’s almost the same exercise.  That guy in the video sure does a lot of talking though.

  • By Ty -

    I think perhaps we should balance this exercise by training it just as much as we do pistols since it helps to develope good flexibility in the rectus femoris of the raised leg.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Interesting theory…

  • By Rob White -

    The Shrimp squat is definately harder than a pistol because of the front hip flexibiliy required, and having to hold the foot behind means you cant counerbalance by leaning forward, like you can in the Pistol. I have short arms and tight hip flexors so holding my leg behind me makes this movement really hard. I dont know how the hell Al manages to hold his leg with BOTH hands!

    However, the one thing the Shrimp Squat lacks is ROM. The pistol has a much bigger ROM. so i think both types of squats are worth having in your program.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Some people have told me they find the pistol harder, but that comes down to individual strengths and weaknesses.  I agree with you that in an absolute sense, the shrimp is the harder of the two.  And yes, it’s worthwhile to practice both.

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  • By Robby Taylor -

    Al, have you considered trying a shrimp squat with the foot of your working leg elevated on a platform? This could give your working leg the full range of motion found in the pistol squat. Couple that with the additional mechanical disadvantages of the shrimp squat, and you have the beastliest of bodyweight leg exercises. I can barely do the elevated shrimps while holding on to the edge of the counter to help balance myself. To me, the leg strength required to simply lift out of this squat, not including the strength necessary to not fall backward, is more than doing a pistol holding 25 pounds while keeping the free leg parallel to the ground the whole time. I guess you could call them jumbo shrimp squats, lol! Or pistol shrimp, since it combines the advantages of both the pistol and the shrimp. In any case, these are insane and I would love to see you excel at this new variation!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Yes I have tried this variation and like yourself, found it very difficult.  Maybe I’ll give it another shot soon.  I’ll be sure to include it in a video if/when I can get one.

      • By Robby Taylor -

        Well, if you think it’s so difficult, then it must be! Clearly it’s not just me! Thanks Al, we’re working out!

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  • By John Dorry -

    Great stuff Al…..keep up the good work !

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, John!

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  • By Khaled Allen -

    I found going down much harder than coming up, and even starting at the bottom was easier for me…balance issues? Why is this harder than a pistol?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Yeah, maintaining stability on the way down can be quite difficult. Like the pistol, the shrimp challenges your balance and flexibility as well as your strength.

Comments are closed.