How To Do Your First One-Arm Push-Up
Updated: a day ago
As far as body-weight exercises go, you would be challenged to find an activity as difficult as a one-arm push-up. A majority of your body weight ends up concentrated on one arm, and that’s not even the end of it; core engagement, balance, and strength all need to work together to execute this one motion.
Despite being hard to do, a one-arm push-up is an outstanding achievement and will amaze your friends, family, and even yourself once you master it. Once you break the movement down into its base steps, you will find that the one-arm push-up is possible.
Related: What Muscles Do Push-Ups Work?
What Are One-Arm Push-Ups?
One-arm push-ups are just what they sound like at face value. Unlike a traditional push up where you plank using both arms to balance and execute the movement, a one-arm push-up limits you to only one arm to complete the exercise. Primarily, all the forces you originally placed on two arms are now limited to only one.
One-arm push-ups work out your chest, shoulders, triceps, and especially your core. To complete this exercise, you want to go from a standard plank position, straighten your back, and balance your weight as you place it on one arm. Some may find learning how to do this exercise with your dominant hand slightly more comfortable, but everyone is different.
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How to do a One-Arm Push-Up
You want to find a relatively spacious area to complete this exercise, and on a surface with excellent grip (no carpet). You should approach this exercise a little differently than a regular push-up. You might have seen some people demonstrate the movement through wildly different starting positions and foot placements, and while they may not necessarily be wrong, it’s best to start simple and work your way up from there.
You will be starting from a plank position as usual, but your feet need to be wider than what you would typically do for a regular two-arm push-up. Your foot placement is the key to completing the exercise without falling over. They should be a bit wider than shoulder-width, enough to balance when you place your arm down on the ground. You will place your hand directly under the middle of your chest, perpendicular to your sternum. Make sure you do not rotate your arm outwards from your chest, as it will put additional stress on the elbow that can lead to discomfort and injury.
You will naturally engage more of your core when switching to a one-arm push-up, but you want to make sure that more than just your core is being tightened to perform the exercise correctly. Tighten your core, thighs, and glutes; they provide a lot of support for this movement. If you are unsure of how to tighten, try planking for about a minute and pay attention to where you feel the most tension.
Descend to the ground, keeping the tightness consistent throughout the movement. Rotate your shoulder towards the arm that you are using to make the motion as fluid as possible. Twist slightly towards the side opposite your arm doing the pressing for maximum oblique and hip flexor engagement. Drop as low as possible without touching the ground, and press up to return to start. Repeat the exercise until failure.
As you can see, a one-arm push-up can be broken down into a system of moving parts. Once you master each component, completing the exercise will be a breeze.
Benefits of a one-arm push-up over a regular push-up?
The benefits of one-arm pushups over two-arm push-ups are pretty compelling when you consider how much thought and precision goes into executing the motion. A standard push-up, while a good exercise, doesn’t maximize engagement of your triceps and chest as much as possible if you did one of its variants.
The one-arm push-up engages your upper body much more intensely than a typical push-up, and you should be able to notice the difference immediately in your chest, triceps, and shoulders. The pectoralis major, triceps, and anterior deltoid work together dynamically to support your weight and complete the exercise.
Better core engagement
Your abdomen should activate reasonably well with a regular push-up, but removing an arm for the one-arm variant means your abs are pulling double time. This variant puts an insane amount of tension on your rectus abnominis and obliques; the oblique muscles are working extra hard to keep you balanced during the motion.
Most people favor doing exercises that strengthen their non-dominant side. Often, you will find one side more durable than the other. One-arm push-ups allow you to target your body’s weaker side and ensure that you are not neglecting anything.
Superior hip engagement
In two-arm push-ups, your hips are not doing too much unless you are engaging in a variant like a plyometric push-up. One-arm push-ups force your hips to work harder to keep you centered. Since your body will be twisting slightly, you will be placing more weight on the side you are moving towards. This weight has to be held up by the hip flexor on that side.
Do not be intimidated by the one-arm push-up. Once you master the small, incremental steps that include proper positioning, foot placement, tightening, and execution, you will be running circles around this exercise in no time.
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