How To Unlock The One-arm Push-up

One Arm Push Up (OAPU)

The one-arm push-up is one of those exercises that seems to impress almost everybody. Especially when you throw multiple repetitions in one go, perform these at the gym or a party, and there will be guaranteed people paying attention. However, the one-arm push-up is definitely not easy. It requires a whole amount of pressing and core strength. Therefore, I made this article. So everybody can learn this impressive skill. Before we start, we take a look at the push-up variation itself.

Understanding the one-arm push-up

The one-handed push-up is just as difficult as it looks. It requires full control over your body. The main muscles you activate are your triceps, chest, shoulders, and the muscles in your core.

When doing a one-arm push-up with the correct technique, you place your feet on the ground and spread them a little. Place one hand on the floor. Keep your other hand at your side. When you are all set, go down slowly. Just before you are about to hit the floor with your chest, you start pressing back up.

Pushing back up is the hardest part of the exercise. You probably will not be able to complete one repetition right away, so we need to build up our strength. 

We do this through progressions,

But before we go to the progressions, there is a requirement that you must first feel before starting the one-arm push-up. You should be able to do at least 20 push-ups before you begin training the one-arm push-up.

One-arm push-up progressions

Okay, now we have finally arrived at the progressions. I assume that you can do at least 20 push-ups. Before you move on to the next level, it is necessary to have full control of the progression. Progressing too quickly can have dire consequences for your progress. 

Archer push-ups

We start with the assisted one-arm push-up, also known as the archer push-up. The archer push-up may be challenging at the beginning. Because you let one hand do most of the work already, while you use the other to assist yourself. 

To do the archer push-up. You spread out your hands, almost like a wide push-up. From this position, you go down only going to one side. Your other hand is assisting you. Push back up, and switch sides. This video shows what the correct technique exactly looks like.

With the archer push-up, it is crucial to control the movement. You go down to one side slowly, get back up, and switch sides. When you get more comfortable, you can try to apply less assistance with your other hand. For instance, you only use your fingertips instead of your whole hand. I suggest you can do at least five archer push-ups before you progress to the next level.

Decline archer push-ups

The little bit harder variation of archer push-up is the decline archer push-up. It is basically the same as the regular archer push-up. However, here you do not place your feet on the floor but an elevated object. This way, you change the lever, which puts much more pressure on your muscles. This video shows well, how that should look like.

Just like the regular archer push-up, you should be able to perform the exercise in a controlled motion. Only then can you move on to the next and also the last progression.

The one-arm push-up

The last progression is the one-arm push-up itself. You probably have a poor technique in the beginning, but over time you will improve that. The greater the form, the more impressive it looks. Here is a video of what the correct technique looks like.

At last, I have some tips you can utilize to optimize your one-arm push-up training.

Focus on core strength

Like I said earlier, your core also has a huge impact. If you have weak core muscles, there is no possible way you will be able to do the one-arm push-up. You will simply collapse during the exercise because your core can’t handle it. Therefore I suggest you work on your plank. You basically are in a one-arm plank position. Get comfortable with planks, and you will be comfortable with push-ups, eventually.

Negative one-arm push-ups

Something I always mention when somebody is trying to learn a new skill is to practice the negative variant. With the negative one-arm push-up variant, you start in the one-arm plank position. And you let yourself go down as slowly as possible, get back in the one-arm plank position and repeat it again. When doing the negative version of an exercise, your body will get familiar with the regular version. It will build up the needed strength and will get you to the real one-arm push-up eventually.


Besides training, resting is also crucial. Take some days off to let your muscles rest for a bit. This is where the muscle-building face begins. I suggest you train the one-arm push-up at least 2x per week, but not too much. So, practice the one-handed push-up, not more than 4x per week. This way, you put in enough work while letting your muscles also rest enough.

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