One of the main goals of all calisthenics athletes is muscle strength and endurance.
How many of you dreamt of doing one-arm push-ups as easily as Sly Stallone after watching Rocky series? This goal may seem out of your reach, but we assure you that with the proper workout routine and progression, it is within the reach of every determined individual.
Before you even attempt to start one-arm progression, first you need to make sure that you can do at least 30 regular push-ups with the proper technique.
If you are not familiar with it – don’t worry, we got you covered. Here are the key aspects you should focus on while doing regular push-ups:
- Initial position: palms placed a bit wider than shoulders, parallel to the body; head neutral, facing the ground; feet together, tightened glutes, the whole body should be as straight as possible, retracted shoulder blades;
- The movement: slow, controlled motion until you touch the ground with your chest; inhale on the way down, exhale on the way up; elbows at 45 degrees to the body; maintain the initial position all the time.
Now, as you know the basics and can do 30 push-ups effortlessly, we can move on to the progression.
The most important thing you need to remember is that you can manipulate gravity by changing the incline of the exercise.
For the sake of this exercise, we can assume the standing position to be a 0°, while the initial position to be a 90° (parallel to the ground).
The lower we go, the harder it gets to perform the exercise. Having said that we can distinguish the following progressions:
One-arm push-ups against the wall
The closer we are to the wall, the easier it becomes. As we move away, the intensity increases. It’s a great way to start and learn the pattern of the movement.
Inclined one arm push-ups
This type of push-up requires you to place one hand on the edge of a bed, chair, table, etc.
Move your feet away from it and position them on the tips of your toes. As you get stronger and master the technique, you shall increase the degree of inclination.
One-arm push-ups with support
Keep increasing the intensity. Use a pebble, a bench or a basketball as support and continue to gain strength. Remember of slow, controlled motion. If you struggle to do one rep, go to the previous variation or try to do slow negatives.
Assisted one arm push-ups
As the name suggests it, you place yourself in the initial position but instead of putting one arm behind your back, you place it on the ground a little further than the other arm and do the push-up with both arms.
Full one arm-push-ups
As you progress, put your arm further and further back until it reaches hip level. The arm that bends should be at shoulder height and completely extended, while the other arm shall be bent and placed in your lumbar area.
The leg spread should be slightly wider than in a regular push-up. In case of problems with the balance, you can place your feet wider which requires less strength to do the push-up.
Slowly, in a controlled way, descend and bend the arm until you touch the ground with your chin and go back up. Voila! You did your first one arm push up!
One Arm Push Up Workout Schedule
Having familiarized yourself with the progression of the exercise you need a thoroughly planned workout routine.
If you are a beginner, be aware that it will take you more time to achieve your goal than in the case of an intermediate.
The more strength you have at the start, the faster you achieve results. Even if you start from scratch, you shouldn’t be discouraged – the effort put into such a demanding task will give you much more satisfaction!
The optimal scheme that guarantees optimal muscle strength and hypertrophy consists of 5 sets of 5 reps – 5×5. It’s advisable to do train 3 times a week. If you feel like your progression is faster, you can move on to further progressions assigned to further weeks:
- Weeks 1-2: One-arm push-ups against the wall 5×5
- Weeks 3-4: Inclined one arm push-ups 5×5
- Weeks 5-6: One-arm push-ups with support5×5
- Weeks 7-8: Assisted one arm push-ups 5×5
- Weeks 9-10: Negative full + assisted one-arm push-ups 5×5 (each)
You can also start with the intermediate phase between weeks two and three by using benches of different heights. If you still find the first two or four weeks easy, you can start directly from the fifth week.
When practicing this movement, remember that strong core muscles are essential to the proper functioning of the whole body. Be sure to keep your abs tight during the entire movement.
To wrap it up, one arm push-ups are a very good exercise that will help you improve arms strength.
This type of push-ups, due to open hand, engage triceps and anterior deltoid to a much greater extent than pectoral muscles. What’s more, it’s a great exercise for your whole body, as it improves your body coordination by strengthens core muscles.
If you have never tried it before, don’t hesitate to include it in your routine. If you can’t do it straight away, use the previously explained progressions that will help you to do your first one-arm push-up.
Thank you for reading our article. We hope that you found a lot of useful information that will help you achieve your goal. If you have any questions, feel free to ask us in comments down below and we will try to help you out. Stay tuned for the next articles!
Chris is an experienced Calisthenics practitioner focused on isometric exercises and street workout. He founded thehybridathlete.com in 2017, which was subsequently acquired by theyhybridathlete.com
He is based in Portland and has been working out using solely his own body weight and bars for the past 6 years.