The Ultimate One Arm Push-up

One of my favorite sayings is, “In the world of the blind, the one eyed man is king.”

Well, in the world of calisthenics, the one arm push-up is king!

As I discussed in my one arm push-up tutorial, the legs are usually spread fairly wide for balance and stability during a one arm push-up.

However, the move can be made much more difficult by bringing the feet closer together.

In fact, the “perfect” one arm push-up remains an enigma in the world of calisthenics. Can a true one arm push-up be done with the heels touching?

Watch the video below to see me give it my best effort:


For more information, check out my book, Pushing The Limits! – Total Body Strength With No Equipment.

44 thoughts on “The Ultimate One Arm Push-up

  • Pingback: "Perfect" One Arm Push-up | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page

  • By ERRICKTHETRAINER -

    GOOD STUFF AL:)

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Errick!

  • By Rob White -

    Nice work Al! Seems like you might have beaten Jim (Bathurst) to it!

    Next up: The one arm handstand pushup 🙂

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Rob!  I’ve still got a looooooong way to go on the OAHSPU.

  • By Toby -

    do you know anyone else able to do it?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      I haven’t seen anyone do it any cleaner than my rep at the end of this video.  Would love to see it though if anyone has footage!

      • By Mihaly -

        Wow! This is the first regular one arm pushup I’ve seen. Congratulations! Left hand?:)

        • By Al Kavadlo -

          Thanks!  Not on the left yet!

  • By Jim -

    Nice. You were not perfectly square with the ground though. Great job though

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Jim – it’s definitely still a work in progress!

  • By KC -

    Does it become more difficult primarily because of a strength challenge or a balance and stability challenge?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Both!

  • By Luiz -

    Brother, great video, conditioning exemplary! Tell me, what’s your height and weight? Thank you for another video!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks!  I’m 5’11” and 160 lbs.

  • By Dale -

    Al –

    Did you indeed progress to this point by first learning the splay-legged style, them moving your feet incrementally closer together ?

    Also, did you keep your reps generally low while learning the OAP ?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Yes and yes.

      • By Dale -

        Al –

        One more question if I might: if you had learning an OAP to do all over again, would you do it the way you did it, or would you be inclined to use the Paul Wade approach, i.e., feet-close from the beginning, decreasing assistance from free arm ?

        BTW, I’m Dreamliner on T-Nation. 😉

        • By Al Kavadlo -

          Haha – I had a feeling Dreamliner may have been someone I knew from here!

          I’m not a big fan of hypothetical questions, but if I had to relearn the OAP, I’d probably utilize some of Paul’s progressions in conjunction with my other methods.

          • By Dale -

            Fair enough. Got your back on T-Nation!

  • By Anil -

    Impressive and motivating. Thanks for the update Al. Calisthenics rules!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Right on, Anil!

  • By Slobajudge -

    Almost perfect, the best I seen together with Jim beastskill, Congratulations ! You are very close to perfection. Lots of people think that perfect oap is not possible. Please, bring them silence forever !  I am working OAP also but not close like you. Best luck from Serbia !

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Slobajudge – I love silencing non-believers!  Keep training hard!

  • By Etienne -

    Awesome form! looks slick

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Etienne!

  • By Theodora -

    Great job!
    We need to get you a sound guy!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Theodora! 

      I know the sound on this clip sucks.  It was my first time shooting in that room with this new camera and I have a much better idea of what I need to do for next time.  Live and learn!

  • By Ty -

    lol I’ve seen you do it with just 1 leg on the ground, so clearly that would be even tougher I think.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Actually this version is much harder!  Having that leg out there in the air makes it easier to balance, kinda like how a human flag or front lever is easier with a straddle position.

  • By Sumit -

    Hi Al Kavadlo,

    How much do you think that a 180 lbs person would bench press if he is able to do one perfect OA Pushup.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      I don’t know.  Probably around 300 lbs.

      • By Taochi -

        How much do you bench press?

        • By Al Kavadlo -

          Not at all.

  • By BLSkyfire -

    Hey Al, was your working arm directly under your shoulder or was under your chest by your sternum. Just trying to figure out which version you were doing. Regardless, this is very impressive and the cleanest oap I’ve seen. How did it take you to achieve it?

    • By BLSkyfire -

      Woops, I meant how long did it take for you to achieve it?

      • By Al Kavadlo -

        Hah – I knew what you meant!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks!  My working arm is somewhere in between being under my chest and being under my shoulder.

      As for your other question, I started doing push-ups when I was 13 years old. I did my first “Ultimate” OAP at age 32.

  • By Rob White -

    I used the Convict Conditioning progressions on the pushups for a while, but when i tried to go from the Uneven Pushups (normal feet-together pushups, but with one hand on a basketball) to the Half One-Arm Pushups with feet together, i found it impossible. The jump between those two stages is too much. Even holding the top position of the feet-together one-arm pushup is freakin’ hard! I’m going to try it with hands on an elevated surface and gradually lower it like Jim (Beastskills) did, and also work some hard pushup variants like the ‘Get In Line’ pushup that Mark Lauren has in his ‘You Are Your Own Gym’ book (a great book BTW).

    Hey Al, have you tried a one-arm Dive Bomber (AKA Hindu pushup) yet?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      I agree that the chasm between uneven push-ups and one arm push-ups is quite large.  I personally advocate the feet wide one arm push-up as a precursor to the feet together version (as seen in the video above). 

      And yeah, I can do a one arm Hindu push-up.  🙂

      • By Rob White -

        Hey Al,

        Still stuck on trying to get the 1/2 ‘perfect’ one arm pushups as in Step 8 of CC.:(. So i had a look on the dragondoor forums to see if anyone had heard from Paul Wade on tips about this transition.

        Paul Wade discusses here about the version of the ‘perfect’ one arm pushup he used in the CC DVD 1 http://kbforum.dragondoor.com/showthread.php?t=152180&page=1. Basically the body is slightly angled more towards the supporting arm via a small lateral bend in the hips, and it also seems that there is slight rotation of the unsupported shoulder away from the supporting arm (kind of the opposite of what the unsupported side wants to do, which is collapse inwards towards the supported side). Looking at your clip, it seems you do the same type of thing.

        Paul Wade discusses the transition from uneven pushups to 1/2 ‘perfect’ one arm pushups http://kbforum.dragondoor.com/showthread.php?t=152492&page=1. I tried some of this advice out.

         – I re-visited the Uneven pushups with more weight shifted on to the basketball, and indeed it is a helluva lot harder, esp. with controlled tempo.

         – I also the tried the idea of moving the ball and the supporting hand right under the sternum (suppose you could call it an ‘uneven’ close grip pushup ?). This really seems to be helping getting strong in the supporting side and shoulder, esp. if you really shift the weight to the supporting arm (i focus on moving the weight right to the outer edge of my supporting palm) at the top of the movement.

        Incidentally, i dont know why they didnt ask you to model the pushups DVD, seeing as you are one of the only people I have seen to crank a decent ‘perfect’ one-armer out! Cant wait to see who they get to model the mythical one arm HSPU in the handstands DVD 🙂

  • By Vasu -

    Dear Sir,
    Its 3 months i have started  push ups,and about a week back i started doing One arm push ups,i was shocked when i observed that with right hand i am able to do upto 6 reps but with left hand i am not able to do even one….i do pushups every alternate day.Can you pls suggest me what should i do.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Keep practicing!

      • By Vasu -

        But why is there so much of strength difference between the two hands….is it unusual 

        Regards

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