In the previous post we covered some of the more advanced variations of push ups. In this post we are going to cover the 3 most important exercises when trying to go for the golden fleece of push ups- the one arm push up. Needless to say you should have mastered all the variations in part 2 before attempting this. Finally we are going to cover some of the other variations of push ups, that don’t quite fit the regular push up progression, but are pretty useful anyway. Be sure to revise the technique points in part 1 before attempting any of this.
- Lever Push up-
Take a normal push up posture, place one arm on a basketball or a couple of bricks (same height), and place it away from the body such that when you place your hand on it, the fingers should point away from the body, and only a slight bend in the elbows should be required when in the top position (working arm closer to the body, other on ball), the shoulders are kept parallel to the ground. It is okay to bend the elbow of the assisting hand while going through the ROM. Place the working hand under the sternum instead of the shoulder. Think one arm diamond push up, not regular push up. While this will make the actual pressing harder, this is the correct position for strict one arm push ups later on.
Master for a set of 15 on each arm.
- Assisted one arm push ups-
Same as above, except a ball will have to be used, and the elbow of the supporting hand will not bend at all, throughout the ROM. For this to happen, you will have to roll the ball away such that in the bottom your wrist would be on the ball.
Master for a set of 15 on each arm.
- Half One arm push ups-
Take a diamond push up position and open your feet hip width or slightly wider apart. This and the full one arm push up are the only variations where opening your feet is acceptable. Now remove one hand and place it in the small of your back. Do not let the body or feet twist. Keep the hips and shoulders parallel to the ground and stay on your toes. You will have to create enormous cross tension across the body to stay stable. Now following all the normal rules for the push up, bend the working elbow until it is at 90 degrees and press back up. If you are not able to do this, reduce the elbow bend and work up in repetitions. In time you will be able to control the movement. If you have mastered all the previous exercises, strength will not be an issue, but full body stability will be. Which is why we master the half one arm push up first.
Master for a set of 20 per arm.
- One Arm Push Ups-
This is the same as the previous exercise, except you go all the way down until your chest touches the back of your hand. Initially you may only be able to perform one or two reps, even if you have mastered all the previous exercises. This is okay, just perform one rep before and after every workout. In a couple of weeks you will get used to it and be able to do more reps.
Here are the exercises that deserve an honorable mention-
- Parallel bar Dips
An excellent exercise for the entire upper body, it develops a shape that other pressing exercises simply won’t. Make sure you keep your shoulders down and away from the ears and you do not jerk or swing. If this exercise hurts your shoulder joints or elbows, avoid it and focus on push ups.
- Stability Ball Push Up
This is simply the standard push up with your feet on a stability ball. This teaches you how to control the push up, plus increases core strength.
- Finger Tip Push ups
An excellent exercise for elbow, wrist and finger health, it will both prevent and cure elbow and wrist pain. It lets you go deeper and stretch the chest out. Do not bounce in this movement and work for more reps rather than trying advanced variations. Avoid the temptation to use fewer fingers and instead progress towards one arm push ups using all 5 fingers.
- Decline Push Ups
This is simply the standard push up with your feet on an elevated object around knee level.
- Full Decline Push Ups
The primary issue with the regular decline push up is that the range of motion is quite a bit shorter than the full push up. Solve this by placing bricks under your hands and elevating your feet a little more. This way the decline is the same and you can go fully down.
- Gekho Push ups
These are simply standard push ups performed with one leg in the air. These are good for shifting stress slightly more to one arm and strengthening the core.
- Weighted Push Ups
A standard push up can be loaded by simply placing weight on the mid back or wearing a low backpack with weight inside. Do not place the weight directly on your shoulder blades. Instead place it a little lower on your mid back. This will distribute the stress more evenly and double as a great core exercise.