If you want to impress a crowd of people, get down and pump out fifty push ups.
But, if you want to amaze and wow them, do a dozen one arm push ups!
The one arm push up is the ultimate separator, the sign of upper body strength that is a level beyond what most people are capable of.
Learning how to do this exercise will put you in the rare company of the likes of Bruce Lee, Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris, all who used it to demonstrate their strength levels.
Of course, the one arm push up is also an awesome exercise in its own right, being a natural progression when you can pump out standard push ups like child’s play.
But how long will you have to train to master this fear? How long does it take to be able to do a one arm push up?
Most fitness experts and trainers agree that you should be able to learn the one arm push up in about 3 months of serious training. It will take longer if you’re a total beginner, or it could take as little as a week if you already have excellent strength and just need to learn the technique.
Let’s take a look at the timeline of mastering the single arm push up, how long it might take, and tips from trainers to speed up the process.
How Long Does it Take to Learn the One Arm Push Up?
The one armed push up is an advanced exercise that will take some time to master.
Of course it all depends on your current strength and fitness level.
If you can pump out at least 50 good push ups in a row, you already have a good foundational base to work from.
In that case it is more about learning the proper form for the one arm push up than anything else.
Those people who struggle to get 20 decent push ups in a row will take a lot longer to get to their first one arm push up.
You can build up your strength base in the gym by focusing one such compound exercises as:
- The Bench Press
- The Squat
- The Deadlift
- Along with lots of regular push ups
By following the plan outlined below, even beginners should be able to do their first one arm push up in about 3 months.
But first, here are some opinions about how long it will take to get to your first one arm push up from a range of fitness industry leaders.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed
It’s definitely a move that’s harder to master than it looks, and it does take some time.
Current fitness definitely matters. People who are already fit might be able to achieve enough strength for a one-arm push-up faster compared to someone who has been sedentary and lost lean mass in the process.
There are some people who take as many as six or seven months to achieve a one-arm push-up.
On the other hand, some can do this in just about three months.
Dedication is something to note too.
By working on the body about two or three times every week, you should be able to start trying for that one-arm pushup within a three or four month period.
Stephanie Boll, fitness expert
The one arm pushup … takes hours of training and practice before you should even attempt to do one.
The first step to doing one arm push ups is to begin mastering all of the standard push ups.
It sounds crazy, but I’ve seen some people try to jump from maxing out two arm push ups at 10 reps and then trying to jump into a single arm push up – not gonna happen.
You can use single arm planks to perfect the form you will need to do a single arm push up.
After you are able to do this for no less than a minute, you should be ready to try your first single arm push up.
How long this takes is completely dependent on the person and the regularity with which they train the key muscles required to perform the exercise.
Hannah Shine, personal trainer
To truly master the 1 arm push up you will need a solid 3 months of training three times a week!
This time frame can slightly vary depending on age, weight and overall fitness levels but 3 months for the average male or female is usually what is required.
How long it takes someone to achieve a 1 arm pushup is all about their current fitness levels in 3 key areas.
You will need strength in not just your arms but your core, triceps and chest!
These 3 compounds are all placed under extreme pressure and require great power in order to be able to do a 1 arm push up with good form.
Focus on targeting these 3 areas if you want to master the 1 arm push up as quickly as possible!
Dips, a great way to build tricep strength with your own body weight.
Bench Press for chest strength, start slowly and gradually build towards lifting your own body weight.
Crunches & sit ups for core strength and stability, often overlooked but your core stability is crucial!
Incorporating these exercise into a consistent fitness routine will help even beginners master the 1 arm push up in no time.
1 Arm Push Up Tips & Tutorial
The key to being able to perform the one arm push up is to work through a series of progressively more difficult push up variations, one at a time.
We are going to work through four steps to get you to your first one arm push up.
First though we will work on your bodily stability for the one arm push up with the one arm plank.
One Arm Plank
A key to successfully performing the one arm push up is to maintain tightness throughout the entire body.
The best way to practice developing that tightness is with the one arm plank.
Get down into a standard push up position.
Rather than resting on your palms, however, place your forearms on the floor.
Assume the regular plank position and focus on tightening your body.
Start by pushing the feet into the floor, then tensing the quads, core, back, chest, shoulders and arms.
Now take one hand off the floor and place it behind your back.
Practice the one handed plank until you can do it for 60 seconds at a time.
Feet Elevated Push Up
Once you can pump out 20 standard push ups with relative ease, advance to the feet elevated push up.
This is where you place your feet on a bench so that your body is on a downward angle as you do the exercise.
This will make the exercise more difficult to perform, putting more emphasis on the upper chest and front deltoids.
When you are doing the feet elevated push up, be sure to move through a full range of motion, going all the way down to the floor and all the way up to full arm extension.
When you can do about 20 reps on this push up variation, you are ready to advance to the next progression.
Feet Elevated Side to Side Push Up
The Feet Elevated Side to Side Push Up involves moving your body weight alternately to one side and then the other as you do each rep.
Your hands should be wider than normal, being a little outside shoulder width.
As you come down, move your head toward the right arm, so that, in the bottom position it is just above the right hand.
As you push back up return the torso to a central position.
On the next rep, bring your head across and down to the left hand.
Alternate between sides from rep to rep.
When you do this exercise, you should be using 70 percent of your strength from the focus side and 30 percent from the other side.
The Feet Elevated Side to Side Push Up will begin to develop unilateral push up strength in the arms, deltoids and pectorals.
This version of the push up is an excellent way to strengthen the triceps, front deltsm and pectorals in its own right.
When you can do 20 reps on this exercise, take your hands out slightly wider and keep going until you can again achieve 20 good reps (10 each side).
Ball Push Up
This next progression still involves doing push ups with your feet elevated on a bench.
This time, however you will have one hand resting on a medicine ball.
With this exercise, 90 percent of the strength of the push up will now come from one side of the body.
Begin with your left hand resting on the ball at normal push up shoulder width.
When you can do 10 smooth, full reps, take the medicine ball hand progressively further away from your body until the arm is fully extended.
When you are able to do around 10 reps on each arm at full extension, you will be ready for your first one arm push up.
Your First One Arm Push Up
You are now ready to pump out your first set of one arm push ups!
Get down on the floor in push up position but with your feet spread out wide.
Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders just as you would when doing a standard push up.
Now pull your shoulder blades back and down.
In this position, lift your hips and push through your feet into the ground and tighten your core.
You want your body to be stable in this position before you begin the exercise.
Now bring one arm up and rest it behind your back.
Next, looking directly down at your hand, simply row your body down to the ground by bending at the elbow.
Go all the way down and then push directly back up to the top position.
Don’t worry if you fall over your first couple of tries! You might have the strength and stability, but the technique will still take some practice.
Over time, work on tightening your form and narrowing your stance for an even tougher challenge.
Congratulations – you achieved a fitness goal that few will ever even attempt, let alone master.
If you can perform multiple one arm push ups, you have an exceptional strength to bodyweight ratio, not to mention tremendous core stability and power.
If you can do around 20 reps per arm, you’re ready for your next fitness challenge.
How about the pull up or even the muscle up?
Before you go, check out:
- The pros and cons of calisthenics
- Realistic results from calisthenics
- Ultimate push up motivation
- How long until you can do 100 push ups
Hope this helps!