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Why The One Arm Push-up Is One Cool Exercise


What Nick Tumminello said. (they work anti-rotation in a royal way, need for stabilization, unilateral and hard to stabilize => great transfer to real life activities etc.)
- they work your triceps a lot more than a bench press at the same weight

  • killer serratus exercise

  • they'll work your rotator cuff (and other shoulder stabilizers) like a heavy external rotation + heavy supraspinatus raise combined (if you don't hold the torso parallel to the ground)

  • difficulty: 1... 1.2x bw bench (depending on leg position)

  • less stressful on the shoulder than most other presses

=> great for HFT (if doing a sh*t-load of push-ups or dips can get you jacked, how about doing the same sh*t-load of one-arm push-ups?), training when you don't have access to a bench, shoulder health



Um, no thanks.


Because, ya know, we're always pushing with one arm from the ground



Again, not aware I could get jacked from push-ups


You laugh now, sir. But this one time I was going for a PR of my WHOLE bodyweight on a bench press. And it was stinkin' hard.

But then, after that, a light bulb popped into my brain.

"Why not do a one-arm push-up and see if THAT is more difficult than what I just did?"

Well, I did it and guess what!

It was still ridiculous.


Bugger off, dear sirs.

While a 1.2 BW bench is not incredible, it's still a weight you can use for strength-speed training, power training, and depending on your level, for hypertrophy.
Let me guess, you never do high rep sets? Where did I ever say that you shouldn't go heavy on BP or MP?

Wouldn't it be more bang for the buck if instead of doing light-weight BP (speed/power/hypertrophy) you'd do something which promotes shoulder health and stability, while also giving a hard time to your obliques?
For these three things 65% can be a good weight (yes, I know the percentages and set/rep scheme is not the same for every quality). (1/.65) * 1.2= 1.84 BW bench - an OAP is 65% of a 1.84 BW bench press.
So, if you're 185 and bench 330, it's still difficult enough for training these three qualities. Now, I'm certain, 95+% of the people here bench 1.85 BW with ease... yeah, right.

While in "real life" you don't have to push against the ground with one arm, the transfer is greater than the BP because when you push something hard with one arm (or strike or throw something with one arm), your abs and obliques will have to contract.


blah blah blah, you posted this in Bodybuilding, thus the mocking


Where else could've I posted? It's not Powerlifting and even though it's good for shoulder health it's not rehab. btw, did you read the reply?


is that what you did to reach your "jacked" 5'10" 150lb body?


After 6 years of training.


Whatever. It was not about how much I did with 'em, but that they can be a useful tool.

btw, I'm actually able to do them only since last week.

Also, due to a bunch of congenital weaknesses, the only muscles I was able to train w/o pain until about 2 y ago are lats & co (chins and pull-ups). 2 y ago I was able to begin deadlifting (starting wiht 90 lbs), and after that, dips (the only exercise I could do w/o causing shoulder pain, except push-ups).

I'll tell you how my bench progresses in a few months of OAPs + 2...4 sets of bench/week. Now it's at 154, and I hope to take it to ~220@165 by the end of the year. Yeah, nothing special, but my shoulders hurt like sh*t when I gave up benching a few years ago (same 1RM), and would still crackle a lot when benching with "PL form". Now, I'm using CT's reccomendation, of actually shrugging (not completely; more of a "blades back but not down") the shoulders, instead of keeping them down, and it seems to work great.
Also, MP for a while and I get a feeling that my shoulders are about to separate. And my technique is fine, and my pulling is and was better and more trained than my pushing.


your profile says you're 23? You have WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too many injuries for a 23 year old kid. You really should figure that out man.


Yes I do (have too many injuries for a 23 y o). I had scoliosis, a bunch of unknown-cause back pains, a slight spina bifida, Scheuermann's... Also, I was completely sedentary until I was 17, ate like shit, sat up to 8h/day in front of the PC. When I began training, I would hyperextend my back when deadlifting and squatting - the trainers at the gym knew next to nothing, the big guys would tell me not to DL/squat/Military press OR to use something like just the bar (and not to MP). This because I was skinny, they said nothing about the technique.

It's plain logic. If someone is skinny tell him to stop coming to the gym or go very very light. Right?

Also, my back was always trained about as much as my chest (less in the beginning, more later). Well, when I got (in a few months after I began training) to press 154 lbs (1RM), my shoulders could no longer take it (PAIN). Also, my shoulders would hurt like sheet if I did front or lateral raises (thumbs horizontal or up).

Anyway, my technique was good on all these exercises, certainly not atrocious.

I also had some neurological "problems" which stopped me from lifting for ~2 out of those 6 years. So, 6 years means that for the last 6 years I read everything I could about lifting, nutrition etc. About one year ago I got a pair of adjustable dipping bars, and as I said, 2 y ago I started DLing light. I now DL 300 lbs, and hope to get close to 400 this year. So, I can say that I've just "recovered" from my injuries, which were, practically, congenital weaknesses.
I can now bench using CTs tip on NOT keeping the shoulders down, which feels so much more natural, and also stopped the crackling in my shoulders. Now I can also do scaptions and lateral raises painlessly. And, I think I'm right with what I wrote about the OAP.

So, I'm happy I've no longer the injuries I had and CAN train. A 300 lb DL is something I couldn't dream of 5 years ago (spine and neuro). And I'm also in no hurry with the DLs, neither with the presses. Even 5 lbs/month to the DL means that in 5 years I'll be DLing 550 (at 28 y) (yes, I know progress is not exactly linear, and it comes harder after a while). And with 2 lbs/mo after that, I'd still be at 660 by 33. Why rush it? I've had enough numbness and back pain already.

This thread was about why the exercise can be useful; I certainly didn't mean to say that OAPs should be used instead of (heavy) presses, nor that you'll get hyoooge by doing OAPs instead of heavy presses - although when a beginner gets to do two strict sets of ten, the results will be very visible by comparison to how he looked when he began- and, also, HFT.


oh Lordy!


they'll destroy your shoulders.


I really only read the title of the thread and this is what I pictured.


@FightinIrish: why do you say that? Also, did you do them with the arm away from the body (as in "wide grip bench") or arm close to the body?

Considering that you can even limit the ROM (until nose-touches-floor, instead of chest-touches-floor), that basic mechanics says you'll get a lot of activation in your external rotators and serratus, and also that the scapula can move freely, I ("I" not being a specialist neither having trained people to see what an exercise will do) don't see how they' be worse that a bench press, military press or dip.