Could these hurt your back considering it is rounded at the bottom of the movment?
Unlikely. It's not a heavy back movement... The best I've ever seen someone do was 145 lbs. Most likely your legs will give out before you are near a weight that would be dangerous if your back is healthy.
The only way I have ever seen anyone hurt their back squatting was by putting a bar on their back and using bad form.
Im still yet to be convinced by the usefulness of the 'pistol. I can perform them weighted and non-weighted and although im aware of the arguements for its benefits - all these arguements tend to be from people who are seling something (A tool, a 'system', a book whatever)..
Ok as a 'tool' in your box imo, but i wouldnt rely on them too heavily.
I found them great for rehabbing my knees. Good for building knee stability by enforcing high tension everywhere in the leg. Very usefull to work up to doing for speed and in a ballistic manner for martial arts.
They will not build the limit strength that back squats will, but that's just a matter of picking the correct tool for your goals.
Actually, I forgot the best argument for them, which is it's the most convenient high-tension leg exercise. When I was rehabbing I did them every hour at work at one point, just picked up random stuff for weight. No gym, no bar. I'm a fan of frequent training.
Come on....the only thing that was missing from that was a 'comrade' at the end of it. Rehabbing a knee with a 1 legged squat - Im not convinced and by the sounds of it youve had some 'party' brainwashing.
Pete Ross seems to be quite busy spreading the Pavel kettlebell philosophy here at T-Nation. He has other posts which tout this type of training.
tight loose tight!
when we say kettlebell, we mean strenght!!
When we say strength we mean kettlebell!!
This is what I have to say about the pistol...
It has its place and time in as another tool to use in your arsenal. I happen to be in the military and with deployment and the need to be constantly flexible in my weight training Ive come to learn that your body is the best barbell you carry around along with all your gear. The pistol works great in this regaurd.
Anyhow as to the pistol Ive used it for time to time but lately I cant seem to do one on my left leg but I can get full triples with 90lbs. Im coming off a long lay off because of a knee injury and pistols and one leg deck squats are something Im trying on off days(just bodyweight, in GTG style). I have been deadlifting and squatting and finally worked back up to a 330lb 1RM deadlift and around 250lb for a ATG squat.
I have read alot of authors here at T-Nation have said that more unilateral movements need to be done for legs to cure imblances so I dont see why pistols couldnt be one of them? Of course split squats, various lunges, steps ups are others Im using for assistance exercises also.
As far as unilateral leg exercises go IMO they are the best available. As I progressed with them, other unilateral weighted exercises like step ups and lunges were almost efortless. Obviously they aren't touching the back or front squat when it comes to neural strength activation or for building up mass but they have plenty of value.
And as was already said they are great when you don't have access to weights. Doing them with a pause at the bottom can be pretty difficult and gives me a decent leg workout. Some of you guys are out to bash Pavel's methods as much as others are out to overhype them.
Doesn't matter if you use a KB for this. Do I like KBs? sure. Not for everything. My favorite lift is a heavy back squat. No KB can replace this. Period.
Regarding other posts...do you expect me to answer questions about things I don't like and have never used? Wouldn't make sense. I answer stuff I like.
P.S. I learned about 1-leg squats (Tan Tui) from a Kung Fu sifu 10 years ago. Pavel didn't invent them.