Tip 181: Some thoughts one one-arm push-ups and one-arm pull-ups.
Very few individuals can even dream of doing a one-arm pull-up, as it’s estimated that only one out every 100,000 trainees has the genetic potential to do them. The athletes most likely to be able to do one or more one-arm pull-ups are gymnasts and mountain climbers.
One of my clients had a bodyguard who, aside from being a sharpshooter, was a very accomplished mountain climber. He could perform a full-range, one-arm chin-up, taking 20 seconds for the concentric phase and 20 seconds for the eccentric phase – oh, and he could do it with only his middle finger wrapped around the bar! I also saw another mountain climber, who worked for our National Ski Team, perform 23 one-arm chin-ups with a pronated grip. He did them while holding on to the diving board of a drained swimming pool.
Both of these men were quite slender and didn’t sport excessively muscular arms. But obviously, they have superior motor-unit recruitment abilities. So, the direct applications of one-arm chins are rather limited because of genetic factors. Furthermore, this movement would be considerably harder for the average bodybuilder, as the rest of his body is generally a lot more massive than that of the average mountain climber or gymnast.
One-arm push-ups, made popular by Sylvester Stallone and his Rocky movies, are more readily accessible to the average person, as they require much lower levels of maximal strength. A more impressive form of the one-arm push-up is to have only the contralateral foot on the ground when doing them. If you’re doing one-arm push-ups using the right hand, your left arm is extended in front of you, and your right foot is kept a few inches off the ground.
I first saw these performed by the late Kay Baxter at the Pro World Bodybuilding Championships in Toronto. What I like about this advanced form of the one-arm push-up is that it requires a much greater range of motion than the classic Rocky ones, and you also need to fire a much greater amount of motor units.
Copyright ©2010 Charles Poliquin