One Arm Push Up – Progression Exercises

one arm push up tutorial

I can not start an article about one arm push ups without mentioning Rocky.

Most of the people reading this probably have probably seen one arm push up from the Rocky movie(link to the training scene for all the Stalone fans).

The one arm push up has a difficulty level of 8 out of 16 based on the difficulty chart by Steven Low in his book Overcoming Gravity.

Keep in mind that based on his chart Full Planche on Rings is 14 out of 16.

And yes there are humans(“humans”) who can do Full Planche on Rings, I’ve seen them with my own eyes.

Trust me in reality those moves look even more unreal compared to the YouTube videos we are all watching.

Muscles worked

The muscles worked here are similar to the standard push up.

But with a stronger emphasize on each arm, obviously.

With this one you don’t have the option to shift your arm your body weight to the stronger side.

Also your core muscles have to work a bit extra so you don’t fall to the side.


  • Shoulder muscles
  • Chest muscles
  • Triceps muscles
  • Ab muscles
  • Scapula, trapezius and rhomboid muscles

Progression Exercises

As always I will write this tutorial for complete newbies, if you consider yourself above intermediate please scroll down to Elevated One Arm Push ups.

Normal push ups

Gotta love the fundamentals.

The one exercise that never gets old.

What I love about the push ups is that engages the core muscles a lot.

Especially if done right.

What I mean by this is to keep the core muscles tight through out the movement.


By keeping the core muscles tight, you don’t put so much strain on the lower back.

How to do it:

  • hands shoulder width apart, placed under the shoulders
  • body straight through out the movement
  • bend the elbows and touch the ground with your chest
  • push off the ground while keeping your body straight

If that is too hard for you, try elevated push ups or knee push ups.

When you can do more than 20 push ups, you are ready for the next one.

Diamond push ups


Those push ups are a bit more difficult compared to the normal ones but you’ll get used to them in no time.

With those exercises the progress should be fast.

Here you might feel the burn more in your chest and triceps muscles.

The instructions are similar to the normal push ups but there is one condition, you have to form a diamond with your hands.

Obviously if this position is not comfortable for your wrists you can just put your hands next to each other.

Archer push ups

Now we get to the good stuff.

Here you may find some difficulty.

The archer push ups are the one that resemble closely to one arm push ups.

The main goal here is to push off the ground with one arm close to your body and the other one is stretched to the side.

The second arm is not the active one, it’s the one spotting, so to say.

archer push up collage

As well keep your body in a straight line and focus your attention on pushing your body off with your active hand.

And only help yourself with the spotter arm if you have to.

Elevated one arm push ups

This is the last progression exercise that you will need.

The beauty of this move is that it helps your nervous system get used to the movement which will help you learn the move faster.

When you do it for the first time it may be difficult because your body is still learning to cope with that stress.

But after few sets or even workouts you should get the hang of it.

It’s a good idea to video record yourself while training so you can correct bad form.



elevated one arm push up

How to:

  • straddle your legs, put your hand on the bench(or whatever you are using)
  • for the first timers: first do few negatives to feel how much strength you have and if you will be able to push yourself off
  • lower your body by bending your elbow and bring yourself up by pushing yourself off the bench with the active arm
  • keep your core tight, body straight and exhale when you push off the ground

One arm push up(OAPU)

one arm push up collage

The stress on your body resembles that of the elevated one arm push ups but with a bit more emphasize on your upper body and core muscles(for obvious reasons).

At first you should try this out with your legs straddled which makes it way easier.

Doing negatives here may be a bit dangerous because if you are not strong enough you will fall directly on the ground. You can put your passive arm to the side in case that happens.


In the end I achieved the one arm push up only by doing the elevated one arm push up.

I did the other exercises just to make the workouts interesting.

If you are new to working out, this may take you some time. Mostly depending upon your training background.

But for complete newbies it should take about 4 months to an year or less in case you are a member of the lucky gene club.

If you have any questions please let me know in the comment section below!

Happy training!

By | 2017-09-28T20:36:34+00:00 September 26th, 2017|Blog, Exercises, Pushing|2 Comments

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  1. Mariyan December 2, 2017 at 1:22 am - Reply

    Beast! Keep up the good work, buddy.

    • Lyubomir December 8, 2017 at 9:49 am - Reply

      Thanks buddy!

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