The One Arm Push-Up

When an good friend reaches out to you on a whim telling requesting you write a blog post on a particular topic, you stop and listen.

Especially when said friend was the one guy that everyone knew hated exercise.  

This post is dedicated to him - even though my one arm push-up strength is mediocre at the moment.  Hopefully this entices more people who read this to request certain topics.

When it comes to the gym, feats of strength and having fun with movement always makes for a good time.  That is if you've earned the right to do so.  

The one arm push-up (OAP) is one of those things that will always get a ton of views/likes on the "gram."  And heck, what's better then that?

So how do you know if you have earned the right to attempt to master the single arm push-up?

It all starts with owning the traditional push-up first.  You can read my previous post on how to build a better push-up here

Al Kavadlo, who is greatly skilled at body weight training, suggests that you should first be able to complete 30 consecutive push-ups with a variety of hand placements, such as the diamond push-up. Those who can can typically learn the OAP quickly. 


  • Start with your hand turned In.
  • Splay your feet out wide.
  • Pull yourself down towards the floor in a "corkscrew" like motion.
  • Push yourself back up.

When it comes to training the OAP, being the strongest guy/girl in the gym doesn't equate to immediate success with the single arm push-up. We must look at the principle of specificity to understand why.  

The principle of specificity implies that to improve at a particular exercise or skill, you must train as specific as possible to it.

Meaning that if you want to be good at OAP, a strong bench press will not necessarily get you there.  There may be some general carry over, but unless you train more specifically to the OAP, you may never get there.

Here are some of my favorite drills that will help you train more specifically to improve your single arm push-up strength:

  1. Push-up Position Planks with Reaching
    • Don't let the hips sway or rotate side to side.
    • As you get better with these progress to Push-Up Position Bird Dogs.
  2. Push-Up Position Bird Dogs
    • Don't let the hips sway or rotate side to side.
    • Try to maintain neutral spine the entire time.
  3. Elevated One Arm Push-up
    • Technique is exactly the same as the OAP.
    • As you can do multiple sets of 8-10 reps, lower yourself closer to the floor.
  4. One Arm Push-up with Arm Assist
    • Keep the elbow on the non-pushing arm straight the entire time.
    • As you get stronger, try to rely less and less on the arm.
    • You can use anything to to rest your arm, a chair, medicine ball, dumbbell etc...

(Videos Below In Order Presented Above)

The above drills add a layer of specificity - training in the push-up position on one arm. Give them a try, and keep practicing the skill of a OAP. And remember half reps don't count!

Questions, comments, concerns leave them in the comments section below.

Move Well, Stay Strong