4 Steps to Master the One-Arm Push-Up

4 Steps to Perform the One-Arm Push-Up

If you have ever tried to do a one-arm push-up, you know why this exercise is showcased as being the ultimate ‘show-off’ move to prove strength. Yes, we all agree: one-arm push-ups are damn hard.

Only few people can get down and just bang out a couple of reps. So, if you really want to master this exercise, you have to get serious and down to business. Fortunately, with the following 4-step guide it’s not impossible. As we all know, anything worth achieving requires some hard work, but if you follow the steps below and enhance your technique, you’ll soon be knocking out one-arm push-ups like professional boxers.

In this 4-step guide, you’ll need to master each one before moving on to the next. Each exercise in this sequence will build upon the last, helping you gain muscle memory, the strength and agility to perform the one-arm push-up at the end. Ensure that while you’re doing all of these push-up versions your core is tight and your back in a neutral position all the time. In case your hips start to lift, causing your body to form an arc, stop the exercise and get back to it once you can use proper form again.

3 TIPS BEFORE YOU START

1. Exercise fresh. You will essentially be doing a one rep max whenever you do this exercise, so it will be hard on your muscles, joints and central nervous system. Take enough break between sessions to rest and recover in order to prevent injury.

2. Never sacrifice good form. Performing 20 reps with poor form is worthless and a waste of time if you want to reach your ultimate goal. Good form is a must because once you reach the point where you have to balance on one hand, there’s simply no room for error. Make sure you don’t develop poor form and bad movement habits in the beginning because it will be harder to fix it later.

3. Make sure you are able to complete 15 full range of motion reps on each side before you move on to the next move. This is your goal and tells you that you are ready for the next exercise. Keep in mind, this is not just about growing stronger muscle, but about developing endurance as well.

diamond push-up
Diamond push-up: Place your hands closer to each other with your thumbs and forefingers forming a diamond shape.

THE 4-STEP GUIDE TO MASTER THE ONE-ARM PUSH-UP

Step #1: DIAMOND PUSH-UP 

The diamond push-up is an excellent exercise for building strength in the chest and the triceps, which will you will need once you transfer onto one arm. This exercise might take some time to master if you’ve only ever done traditional push-ups, so don’t feel discouraged if you can’t perform many reps in the beginning. And don’t cheat by moving your hands outward – keep your fingers touching.

Get down into the traditional push-up position, with your hands placed on the floor and your legs stretched out behind you. Place your hands closer to each other so that they are under your chest, with your thumbs and forefingers touching each other and forming a diamond shape. Keep this position while you bend your elbows to lower yourself down. Go down until your chest almost touches the floor. Keep your back straight during the entire movement. Pause briefly at the bottom, then press up to finish the rep.

Step #2: SLIDE-OUT PUSH-UP

Once you can perform 15 diamond push-up reps, continue with the slide-out push-up. This workout will condition your body to the act of balancing primarily on one arm, but you’ll still be using the second arm for balance and support. Don’t be surprised if you start feeling this one in your core too.

Get down into the traditional push-up position. Start by lowering yourself down, but as you do, extend one arm straight out in front of you, sliding it across the floor. The other arm should move through the traditional push-up position. Pause when you’re in the lowered position and then press back up to finish the rep. Perform as many reps as you can on one side, then perform the same number of reps on the other side. You master this exercise when you are able to perform 15 reps on each side.

one-arm push up
Lower on one arm, then at the bottom of the negative push-up put the other arm down and push yourself back up.
Step #3: NEGATIVE ONE-ARM PUSH-UP

Once you can do your 15 reps on each side of the slide out push-up, you can move on to the negative one-arm push-up. This exercise is only one step away from the full-on one-arm push-up, meaning it’s going to put your strength to the test.

Get down into the traditional push-up position. Once balanced, raise one arm up and put it across your back. When you move into this position, lower yourself down as you would during a classic push-up using only the supporting arm. At the bottom of the movement, put the other arm down and then push yourself back up to the top before repeating the movement. Perform as many reps as you can on one side, then perform the same number of reps on the other side. You master this exercise when you are able to perform 15 reps on each side.

Step #4: FULL ONE-ARM PUSH-UP

It’s time to master the full one-arm push-up.

Get into the traditional push-up position, but use a bit wider foot position; note that the wider your feet, the easier the push-up will be. Put one hand on the floor, directly under the shoulder while the other hand rests against the body or across your lower back. Start to lower yourself down and as you do, turn your supporting shoulder towards the floor. The shoulder of your free arm should rise up a little as you perform this movement. Pause at the bottom of the movement and then press back up, shifting the hips and shoulder in unison so they move back to stay parallel to the floor. Perform as many reps as you can on one side, then perform the same number of reps on the other side. You master the one-arm push up when when you are able to perform 15 reps on each side.

Congratulations, you’ve come to the end.

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Written by Thomas Young

Thomas Young just loves bodybuilding and this is why he has found his dream job in a gym working as a personal trainer. On the weekends, he likes to go hiking and mountaineering.

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