Basement Sessions – 5/13/18 – One Arm Push Up Training

As part of my overall training program, I have certain strength “skills” that I aim to train at least once per week. By focusing on these skills and “progressively overloading” the resistance/difficulty, I’m able to realize strength gains. AND, I’m able to do this without lifting weights. These skills are bodyweight skills, and I use the ability to manipulate my body in space to make the movement easier or harder. Bodyweight training is a great way to build functional fitness, and you can do it virtually anywhere without equipment.

Today is one arm push up day!

I injured my glute over the weekend, so I’ll need to be careful to not aggravate it while its healing. As long as I adjust my dynamic warm ups to not have an extreme range of motion or load on that glute, I should be okay. In general, unless an injury is serious, I try to remain as active as I can while its healing. Of course, if the injury requires bed rest and/or other intervention, I’ll certainly stop my activity. But, the moral of the story is – don’t let an injury in one part of your body confine you unless it absolutely has to.

I’ve been able to do a version of one-armed push ups for a while. In the version I can do, my feet are spread wide, and my body twists a lot going into the negative portion of the move. I want to evolve beyond that.

I read about a series of progressions that make this move VERY difficult in “Convict Conditioning.” The absolute hardest version of this bodyweight exercise is to have your feet together, and not twist your torso as you go into the negative portion of the movement. THAT IS WHAT I’M WORKING ON RIGHT NOW.

In the case of the harder one arm push up (similar to other single limb movements), I found that limiting factors to the move can be strength in the supporting muscles (triceps and shoulders), and strength in the ligaments/tendons in the elbows/shoulders/wrists. Perhaps the biggest limiting factor is core strength. If you don’t believe me, do the following:

  1. Get into a normal plank position (hands shoulder width apart, feet hip width apart)
  2. Move your feet together so that they are touching
  3. Take one of your hands (your choice – doesn’t matter), and put it on your hip
  4. See how long you can stay up without twisting your body, or falling over (probably only a few seconds if you are lucky)

This is a plank position that most people don’t train in the course of their normal workouts, so it’s not hard to understand why its a weak point. When you get into that position, the hip opposite your hand on the ground wants to twist to the ground. Your core muscles (and hip muscles) are what fight this urge. It is for that reason that any one arm push up plan must have training for core stability as well. Beefing up your other muscles/tendons is pointless if you can’t stay in the position long enough to use the muscles.

I’ve been training this movement for a while now, and I do have the core strength built up to sustain that position. Now I’m just trying to round out the strength in the other areas of the movement. My current “lever” push ups are a progression towards unassisted single arm pushups. I’ll be here for a bit, and then hopefully my final step is to actually do the elite level one arm push up.


Here is what today looked like:

5/13/18 – One arm pushup training

  • Warmup
    • 3 minutes light jump rope (keeping an eye on the response of my glute)
    • 3 minutes light jumping jack skills (still keeping an eye on my glute)
    • 1 minute dead hang
  • Skill work – one arm push up
    • Tricep pushup: 20
      • Warm up set helps to lock in the range of motion for the elbows/shoulders
    • Rest 2 min
    • Lever push up (left): 12
    • Rest 1 min
    • Lever push up (right): 12
    • Rest 2 min
    • Lever push up (left): 13
    • Rest 1 min
    • Lever push up (right): 13
    • Rest 1 min
    • Chest clap push up (plyometric move): 15
    • Rest 1 minute
    • Dips: 17
    • Rest 1 minute
  • Core work
    • Hanging knee raise: 20
      • Note – I usually do straight leg raises, but extending the legs in that position caused glute discomfort. No reason to hurt for no reason.
    • Rest 1 minute
    • X-crunch: 30
      • I was reintroduced to this move during my Insanity: Max 30 reboot – gotta say that I like this move.
  • Metabolic burnout
    • 1 min – battle ropes single arm side waves (92) – those get TOUGH!
  • Cooldown
    • Flappy arm swinging
    • Light side lunges
    • Light runners stretch
    • Scorpion twists

The whole thing clocked in around 33 minutes – good news is my glute didn’t feel taxed at all.

Calorie burn clocked in around 175 C.

Heart rate chart is nothing interesting – the usual spike with metabolic work.

one arm pushup hr chart


Do you have any favorite home workouts that you’ve put together? Do you also train the one arm push up? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please click “like” and share! 


5 thoughts on “Basement Sessions – 5/13/18 – One Arm Push Up Training”

  1. Nice job…. I highly recommend buying a squat rack, they are quite affordable, and a set of weights to incorporate some of the big lifts in to your workout

    1. Appreciate the feedback. Thank you very much. I’ve recently added a hex barbell so I can do heavy hex deadlifts. I do have the space, so a squat rack and some olympic bars/plates wouldn’t be a bad idea.

  2. Great job Brad! I’m reading the 21 day challenge and will be ready to go this week. So far I’m kind of scared..hahahhaa

    1. You’ll do great! Biggest key is finding the hidden sugar and reducing it. If you can do that, you’ll start to see results in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to chatting more – very proud of you!!!

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