One-Arm Push-Up Progression: Steps to Achieving a Classic Move

The one-arm push-up is an impressive exercise that showcases exceptional upper body strength and balance. While it may seem daunting at first, achieving this classic move is possible with a strategic progression plan. In this article, we will explore the steps to mastering the one-arm push-up and guide you through a systematic approach towards accomplishing this challenging feat.

Step 1: Mastering the Basics

Before attempting the one-arm push-up, it is crucial to have a strong foundation in traditional push-up variations. Start by perfecting your form and technique in standard push-ups, focusing on maintaining a straight line from head to toe throughout the movement. Once you can comfortably perform a set of 20 push-ups, you are ready to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Wide Hand Placement

Now that you have a solid base, the next progression is to place your hands wider than shoulder-width apart. This wider hand placement shifts more of your bodyweight onto one arm, making the exercise slightly more challenging. Begin by practicing wide push-ups and gradually increase the difficulty by gradually bringing your hands closer together.

Step 3: Rocking Push-Ups

Rocking push-ups serve as an excellent intermediary step towards the one-arm push-up. Assume a regular push-up position, but place one hand slightly farther forward than the other. Lower your body toward the hand placed further away and use your push-up momentum to shift your weight to the opposite side, allowing the other arm to lift slightly off the ground. Repeat this rocking motion for several reps, gradually increasing the range of motion and intensity.

Step 4: Elevated One-Arm Push-Ups

Once you have mastered rocking push-ups, it’s time to raise the difficulty level by elevating your feet. Find a sturdy surface, like a bench, and place one hand on the ground while elevating your feet onto the bench. Perform one-arm push-ups with the non-elevated hand assisting minimally. The elevation increases the load placed on the working arm, bringing you closer to a full one-arm push-up.

Step 5: Reduced Assistance

As you become comfortable with elevated one-arm push-ups, start gradually reducing the assistance provided by the non-working arm. One way to do this is to use your non-working hand to lightly touch your body instead of applying significant force. This step increases the demand on the primary arm, promoting greater strength development in preparation for the one-arm push-up.

Step 6: Negative One-Arm Push-Ups

At this stage, you are ready for the eccentric portion, which involves the lowering phase of the one-arm push-up. Assume the one-arm push-up position and slowly lower yourself to the ground while maintaining control and stability. If you are unable to push yourself back up yet, use your non-working hand to assist in the pushing phase. Focus on building eccentric strength and gradually reduce the assistance provided by the non-working arm over time.

Step 7: Full One-Arm Push-Up

Congratulations, you have made it to the final step! By this point, you have developed remarkable strength and control, allowing you to perform a full one-arm push-up with proper technique. Begin by placing your non-working arm across your chest or behind your back for added stability. Lower your body down with control and press back up using only the working arm. Remember to maintain a straight line from head to toe throughout the movement.


The one-arm push-up is a challenging exercise that requires dedication, patience, and a strategic progression plan. By following these steps and consistently working towards your goal, you can achieve one of the most impressive displays of upper body strength and control. Embrace the journey, celebrate your accomplishments along the way, and enjoy the feeling of mastering this classic move.