Along with the one arm pull up, a single arm push up seems to be one of those exercises that will just impress the hell out of pretty much anyone looking on, it looks awesome and is no easy feat. The one arm push up produces unreal amounts of pushing strength, teaches you to generate full body tension, as well as core stability and total body control. You might not realize it, but there are more than just a few variations of the one arm push up, and a variety of techniques to help you train for it too.
You should already be proficient with many of the other push up variations in this book before moving onto the one arm push ups, after laying down a solid foundation of strength with the full push ups, diamond close push ups and feet elevated push ups. Put in the hours working on your archer push ups too, just as an archer pull up helps you develop the strength for a one arm pull up, the archer push up will help you on your path toward a one arm push up.
There is no strict prerequisite necessary before you attempt a one arm push up, but like I said you should have already built a good level of core stability and pushing strength with dips and push ups first.
With previous variations of push ups, we have done them with our feet together using strict form, however when first learning the one arm push up you?ll need to begin with your feet wide apart in order to give yourself a wider base that helps fight the rotational forces you?ll be exposed to, get a feel for the movement pattern and slowly build up your core strength.
As you become stronger you can slowly move your feet closer and closer together, but the strict feet together one arm push up is a very tough feat of strength, so don?t be in a rush to get there. In the meantime, spread your feet apart a little wider than shoulder width, this cross tension will make it easier to keep your midsection tight and your abdominals braced, creating tension and strength that irradiates outwards to the rest of the body.
Incline One Arm Push Up
This is the progression that most athletes should start with in order to learn the movement pattern for the one arm push up and really dial in on their technique, while in a position of increased leverage, no matter how advanced their strength levels may be.
Training for the one arm pull up is essentially the same as training for a standard two arm pull up, you?ll use the same exercises, just more difficult variations that use only one arm instead of two. The dead hang, the flex hang, etc. Training for a one arm push up works in much the same way, it is very similar to training for a push up in the sense that one of the best ways to ease yourself into the exercise and begin getting used to the movement pattern is to perform one arm push ups on an incline.
This exercise introduces you to the upper body unilateral loading during the one arm push up that requires you to stabilize and brace the midsection in order to resist the rotational forces.
You?ll place your hand on whatever object you are using, such as a parallel bar which would be the best height to start with, or something of a similar height to around hip level. Stand with your legs wide apart, as when doing one arm push ups the closer together your feet are, the more difficult the exercise is.
Maintain a tight core, and straight line from your feet up to your head, don?t allow your stomach to sag downward. Just because you?re performing an easier variation of the one arm pull up is no reason to get lazy, and skimp on proper technique.
Keep your shoulder blades pinned back and down, ensure your elbow travels back directly behind you, maintain a straight body position and move your feet closer towards each other as you become stronger overtime.
Despite being a stepping stone towards the one arm push up, don?t take this variation lightly, squeeze every single muscle in your body, especially the abdominals, lats and glutes, strength and tension will irradiate outwards from here and help you keep stable and generate more power.
Uneven Push Ups
The uneven push up is the first progression where we?ll be performing a one arm push up on the floor, where you?ll perform a push up with one hand on the floor and the other placed on an object like a basketball, medicine ball, stack of books, low bench, or something else of similar height.
Performing a push up with one hand on the ball is an excellent choice, due to the fact that you?ll have to keep your core extra tight in order to maintain midline stability, so while this movement doesn?t require quite as much strength as a full one arm push up, the stability and balance demands are still quite high.
At first it may be difficult finding your balance, but keep at it and don?t get frustrated. Try to use your arm that is touching the ball or bench as little as possible, focusing on the arm that is supporting you through the floor. Be sure to use a full range of motion, go all the way down, and keep the movement slow.As with many other push up variations, keep your core tight, move slowly and under control but keep your feet together for this one.
Negative One Arm Push Up
Much like many other bodyweight strength movements that are a little out of reach, perform one arm negatives can help a great deal in your journey toward a full one arm push up, in not only building the strength required to descend slowly and under control, but also to help get a feel for the movement pattern. Practice makes perfect, and strength is often more of a skill than you know, performing negative one arm push ups can help ingrain the movement pattern into your muscle memory.
Start at the top one arm push up position with your arm straight, legs spread apart and midsection tight, and slowly lower yourself down toward the floor, aiming to make this descent last for as long as possible. At the bottom position hold here for a second, and then place your free hand on the floor and push back up to the starting position using both arms.
Don?t overlook the usefulness of negative one arm push ups, they can be an extremely valuable tool for building single arm pushing strength.
Self-Assisted One Arm Push Up
An excellent tool for progressing to the one arm push up, the self-assist is in a sense a more difficult variation of the archer push up. In essence, this is an archer push up with the hand of your outstretched arm resting on a basketball, medicine ball, stack of books, steps or some other low object.
With your straight arm stretched out to your side, it will become extremely difficult to use that arm to generate much strength to assist you, but if you are not yet strong enough for a full one arm push up, it should provide just enough to get the job done and get in some practice.
This movement requires a great deal of upper body pushing strength as well as hitting the core hard, working your abdominals in order to keep your body stable. Much like the archer pull up, the goal is to use the straight outstretched arm as little as possible, only enough to complete your reps. Keep your core tight, don?t allow your stomach to sag down to the floor, and try as best you can to keep the movement slow and under control.
The One Arm Push Up
This is truly an impressive display of upper body pushing strength, without using anything other than your own body, the one arm push up when done properly is a feat of strength as well as an effective strength builder. Even though it is primarily a pushing movement, it really is a full body movement that requires immense amounts of full body tension to be generated, to avoid toppling over.
When first learning the full one arm push up, begin with your legs out wide to make the movement a little easier, so you can get your reps in and practice. Again, keep in mind that the closer your feet are to one another, the harder the push up will be. This is a challenging move, but if you have put in the work required with many other advanced push up variations, you shouldn?t have too many problems with the old one armie.
Tension Is Everything
With the one arm push up, you must contract everything, every muscle from your fingers to your toes
Make sure your back is straight and you create a straight line from your heels up to your head, or as straight as you can manage and it goes without saying your core should be rigid to keep your whole body tight and aid in stability.
Put your free arm either behind your back or on your hip and keep the working arm close to your body, with your elbow in tight and pinned back if possible, your elbow should point back as you descend and not flare out.
If you wish to make this one a little more challenging, you can perform the one arm push up on your knuckle, or on your fingertips.
Spread your fingers out apart in order to create a wider more stable base for yourself, just as with the two arm push up. At all times throughout the push up be sure perform the ?corkscrew? movement with the supporting arm, actively screw your supporting hand into the floor and outwards ever so slightly creating a little external shoulder rotation in order to maximize tension and stability.
Lead the descent with the shoulders and keep your elbow pinned back, then at the bottom of the movement while still screwing the supporting hand outwards and into the floor, forcefully push yourself up to complete the first rep.
Elbow tucked in pointing back at all times, and shoulder blades pinned back and down is essential for avoiding injury here, to encourage this proper posture think ?push from the armpit? when pushing yourself back up.
While I usually encourage athletes to keep their torso as straight as possible, you may not have the strength to do so with the one arm push up, if you are struggling then you may turn your torso and body away from the pushing arm, creating a slight lean. Again, this is not ideal but it is not necessarily poor technique when starting out with the one arm push up either.
Tension is everything with the one arm push up, you must contract everything, every muscle from your fingers to your toes, with a large focus on the abdominals, glutes and lats.
Strict One Arm Push Up
The most difficult push up variations there is has to be the strict one arm push up, done with your feet touching each other, nothing else even comes close. You?ll need to generate an immense amount of core tension to keep your body from toppling over and crumbling to the intense rotational forces. With your feet together you?ll find it a lot more difficult to balance, placing much more stress onto the core.
You?ll only have 2 contacts with the ground for support as opposed to 3 like during to when you use a wide stance. No matter how strong you are, you?ll find that you won?t be able to do this variation perfectly straight, you will have to use a little hip lean and ?body english? to complete even a single rep, just do the best you can.
A perfectly straight body is impossible with the feet together strict one arm push up, the foot positioning places you in a position where it is incredibly difficult to stay balanced whilst moving through the push up.
Core strength will almost certainly be the limiting factor with this particular variation, if you can perform even one repetition of a strict feet together one arm push up, you are among one of the rare few walking the planet today.
One Arm One Leg Push Up
Still looking for more ways to push the envelope and get the most out of your one arm push up training? No worries, I?ve got your back.
The one arm one leg push up is another advanced variation that will seriously challenge your balance, core strength and pushing muscles, this movement is about as compound as it gets.
You?ll lift one arm and one leg off of the floor, and perform a one arm push up like this making for one hell of a strength exercise, I also suggest still keeping your legs apart in order to maintain balance,. When you first give this one a go, you?ll certainly be surprised at just how much stability and core strength is required to keep yourself up, you?ll need to generate some serious full body tension.
Make sure that your toes are in contact with the floor and not the side of the foot, and contract your abdominals, lats and obliques forcefully to keep from your hips from turning and losing your balance.
Feet Elevated One Arm Push Up
For one hell of a challenging version of the one arm push up, you can elevate your feet, increasing the balances and stability demands on the core as well as placing the emphasis a little more on the shoulders, increasing the difficulty far beyond the standard one arm push up.
You?ll need to lean towards the arm in contact with the floor in order to make up for the extra balance requirements, even so the ability to perform even one solid repetition of this variation is quite an accomplishment. You?re whole body will need to be especially tight, in particular your glutes, abdominals and upper back.
I use a bench or object around knee height and this works well for me, if you are looking for a method of increasing the difficult further still, then you can begin to bring your feet closer together as you grow stronger over time, until you are able to perform feet elevated one arm push ups with your feet together.
One Arm Divebomber Push Up
The divebomber push up is plenty challenging as it is, an excellent exercise for building strength and mobility. But performing the movement with only one arm takes things to another level, requiring immense amounts of core strength and incredible pushing power.
The exercise is near enough the same as the two arm version, only done on one arm. Smoothly move through the movement, while keeping your entire body rigid, especially the midsection. Be warned though, this variation is much more difficult that the traditional one arm push up.
Start in a pike push up position with only one hand touching the floor, push your bottom as high into the air as possible with straight legs, your heels may come off of the floor but this is fine. Bend your elbow and swoop your face down close to the floor while keeping your bottom in the air right until the last minute when you will push your hips down and bring your head up and shoulders back, then simply reverse the movement.
Ball One Arm Push Up
You?ll have to excuse me for the unimaginative title I have given this exercise, I?ve never seen anyone give it a proper name and very seldom seen it performed. It is an extremely challenging variation which greatly increases the core stabilization and balance demands of the core, where you will perform a one arm push up with your hand on top of a ball instead of the floor.
I strongly suggest you only use a medicine ball, one that is heavy enough that it doesn?t roll around too much, most of the other exercises in this book that require a ball will be fine with a basketball but you?d be running the risk of popping it with this one.
You?ll need to keep your entire body extremely tight during 1 arm ball push ups, while keeping your elbow in tight to your body.
Fingertip, Wrist & Knuckle One Arm Push Up
If you are still looking to increase the difficulty of the One Arm Push Up, and you are beginning to find fingertip, knuckle and wrist push ups quite easy, you can try doing these exercise using just one arm. Keep in mind however that the strength demands of the wrists as well as the muscles in the fingers and hands are significantly increased, so take care when first trying these out or you?ll more than likely injure yourself.
While to many these may seem like a silly and pointless party trick, it is important to continually strengthen the fingers, hands and wrists in order to avoid injury, along with building strength than carries over to many other exercises that require a strong grip. While these variations make excellent training tools in order to continually build strength, they are incredibly impressive feats of strength in their own right.