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One-Arm Push-Ups – Do The Upper Body Exercise Correctly

One-arm push-ups are a technically challenging, spectacular exercise that clearly demonstrates an athlete’s physical skills. To learn them, you’ll need both basic physical fitness and the ability to maintain balance through the coordinated work of the stabilizer muscles. The correct technique and other aspects will be discussed below.

The benefits of exercise

One-arm push-ups, like the classic versions of this movement, build up the musculature of the upper body. In particular, these are the muscles of the chest, the anterior bundles of the deltas, and the triceps.

Exercise develops strength and endurance in the upper body muscles and trains coordination

However, the first option has two main differences:

1All the load falls on one single hand. Thus, the intensity of muscle training is twice as high as with classic push-ups. The exercise is an excellent indicator of an athlete’s true strength

2In addition to maximizing muscle stress, the benefit of one-arm push-ups is that you have to maintain balance all the time, which is a non-trivial task. Try to simply move one hand behind your back, while spreading your legs and not moving your pelvis to the side. To maintain balance in such position, you’ll have to use almost all of your core muscles

When balancing on one hand, the latissimus dorsi and abs are actively involved in the work. It becomes even more difficult to maintain balance while moving. Looks promising, doesn’t it? You can challenge your own body!


The exercise has very few contraindications, despite its complexity. In fact, they are the same as classic push-ups. These are various joint injuries: shoulder, elbow, and wrist.

Do not perform one-arm push-ups if you experience pain or discomfort in your joints or muscles. Otherwise, the benefits of exercise will be minimal, plus there is a risk of harm to health.

Exercise technique

Different sources have different descriptions of the exercise technique. Even coaches do it differently. Some options are more effective, but more difficult, while others, in turn, are easier to perform, but the effect won’t be as pronounced.

One-arm push-up

Therefore, it’ll be logical to consider the most difficult version of the exercise and give several ways that’ll make it easier for you to master it.

Such an option implies that the position of the body looks much the same as for classic push-ups. You do not lean on two palms, but on one, directly under the body. In other words, your body is as straight as possible, your shoulders are parallel to the floor, and your legs are spaced apart at a distance comparable to the width of your shoulders.

This is what you should strive for. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to learn the exercise right away, even if you have impressive physical strength. It’s again about balance and the ability to mentally coordinate the work of a large array of muscles.

How to do one-arm push-ups properly?

1Start by lying on one hand. Take your other hand behind your back, placing the hand on the buttock or slightly lower. Keep the body straight, rest on your toes. The distance between the feet is approximately shoulder-width apart, perhaps a little more

2As you inhale, bending your working arm at the elbow, you lower your chest almost to the floor. Straighten your lower back

3As you exhale, you push yourself to the starting position

Techniques to make the exercise easier:

  • The wider you spread your legs, the easier it becomes to maintain balance, and the further from the midline of the body you can put your working arm aside. Accordingly, you can transfer more load from the triceps to the pectoralis muscle

  • Moving your pelvis towards your working hand and lifting the opposite shoulder will also make balancing easier

It makes sense to use these techniques only at the very beginning, to feel the taste, so to speak. Otherwise, it is very tempting to get used to the fact that the exercise is easy.


Preparatory exercises

To learn one-arm push-ups, you must first master a few lead-up exercises.

Lean partially on your other hand

In this exercise, you use small support, such as a ball, a bar, whatever is at hand. The technique is as follows:

1Get into a prone position. Straighten your other hand and take it to the side. Place your palm on the ball or bar. You’ll not be able to fully rely on it, but it’ll undoubtedly give you partial support and won’t allow you to touch the floor with this hand

2Do push-ups, focusing on the strength of the muscles of the supporting arm

These push-ups are more difficult than the classic ones. Try to transfer your weight to your working hand and gradually lift the other palm away from the support.

One hand on a support

Place your other hand inside out

Using a standard push-up position, place the palm of your working hand on the floor as usual, and turn the palm of your other hand inside out.

Thus, push-ups are not very convenient. Therefore, you’ll involuntarily transfer most of the weight to your working hand.

  • Get into a classic push-up position. Twist the palm of one hand and transfer your body weight to the other hand

  • Start pushing up, trying to fully focus on the working arm

Arms above feet

The exercise option allows you to reduce the load on the working hand, thereby hardening the muscles.

  • Place your working hand on a slight rise, such as a step platform, bench, or edge of a bed. In such a position, the load on the muscles will decrease, and you can fully focus on working out the balance. Take your other hand behind your back and straighten your body

  • Bending exclusively on the working hand, try to perform the movement correctly

Gradually lower the height of the support until you reach the floor. You’ll learn to balance right away.

One-arm push-ups are challenging physical and coordination tasks, but as many athletes know, nothing is impossible. Not everyone can perform the movement correctly, but if you succeed, you can confidently assert that your level of physical fitness has reached significant heights.

I'm a professional fitness instructor and nutritionist, runner, husband and father. I do my best in providing the right guidance when it comes to the grounds of sexual health, nutrition and common fitness.

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