Once you've learned how to do push ups properly, you might be getting good enough to really show off. One-arm push ups are a very impressive fitness trick: it takes a lot of upper-body strength, but it's also very much about technique, and easy enough to learn how to do it, providing you devote a small amount of time to it.
Hampton from YouTube channel Hybrid Calisthenics (opens in new tab) is well-known for his viral content: he recently became very popular on Reddit by showing people how to learn to do a push up for the very first time. However, he's since gone from the easy end of the spectrum to the trickier one, demonstrating how to learn to do a one-arm push up. All you need is time and a bit of floor space. Check out the one-minute video below:
Learn how to do one-arm push-ups here:
Once you've mastered two sets of 25 push ups, Hampton recommends practicing "diamond" push ups, with your hands narrow. This removes some of the load from your chest and places it squarely on your triceps. If you can do two sets of 20 of these, congratulations: you're ready for the next step.
The next one is side-staggered push ups, with one hand to the side so the majority of weight is on the other hand. This is a good way to practice transferring more and more load to one hand – just remember to swap over halfway through so you don't develop an imbalance. The goal here is to hit two sets of 15 side-staggered push ups on each side.
The next step is the demanding archer push-up, which requires swapping sides in a full weighted transition from one arm to the other. Fortunately, you only need to do two sets of nine before you're ready for the one-armed push up. Hampton recommends building up to two sets of nine one-armed push ups, as he says "the goal is to build strength, not just demonstrate it".
Why do push ups?
Push-ups are an excellent measure of general physical fitness, not just muscle growth. A study published by researchers from Harvard University (opens in new tab), as well as other international researchers, found an association between push-up exercise capacity and cardiovascular fitness.
The researchers followed 1104 "occupationally active" adult men over ten years and found a significant association between baseline push-up capacity and incident cardiovascular disease risk. The more push-ups you're able to do in a row, the less likely you are to suffer a cardiac event.
As well as this unexpected cardiac benefit, push ups are a phenomenal way to tone up and build lean muscle. It's a compound exercise, which means it works multiple muscle groups: from your shoulders and chest to your triceps and core muscles, it's a great way to work out lots of different muscles at the same time. Starting your day with 50 push ups can help contribute to your fitness goals, heal your heart and build muscle.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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