Push-ups are a staple bodyweight exercise for the chest and for good reason…they work. But one of the BIG problems with the push-up becomes apparent as you get stronger…you’re limited by your bodyweight for resistance.
That’s where the One-Arm Bench Push-Up comes in.
This is a simple variation of the push-up that’s going to give you two major benefits…
1. It puts more tension on one arm, similar to a regular one-arm push-up, only focusing more on the chest than on the triceps, like regular one-arm push-ups do.
2. It puts a great stretch on the other non-working pec as you’re coming down into the push-up.
3. You’ll be able to use more resistance than just plain bodyweight because the tension of your bodyweight is more focused on one side at at time, making this exercise more effective for building muscle mass.
Okay, so that’s 3 benefits…
In order to perform this one fully, you’ll need to be able to do at least 15 to 20 normal push-ups, though if you really wanted to, you could potentially do these on your knees, too.
For this, you’ll need a bench or a chair or even just stairs…basically anything you can set your other hand on that’s about a foot and a half off the ground or so. I’m using just a regular flat bench.
Set one hand flat on the bench and the other hand on the floor a little ways away from the bench. Keep your body stiff and straight.
Now lower yourself down, like you would in a regular push-up.
As you can see, my left side is getting the brunt of the load, which works the left pec more. My right arm is being placed in a great pec-stretch position every single time I come down to the bottom.
The other good thing is that this stretch position is done against resistance (because that pec is also supporting your bodyweight). As you push up, that right pec will also contribute to the movement somewhat, so it’s not a true one-arm push-up where the whole load is on one side.
You get two type of work in one shot…then you switch arms. Same exact execution.
The second side you do, you’ll not get as many reps since you’ll already be fatigued from the first. It’s fine to take your regular rest period between sides, if you want, in order to keep things more even.
And while this looks like a lot like a one-arm push-up off the floor, it actually hits the chest MUCH better because you don’t have to set your hand in the middle of your base of support to perform the exercise. The “normal” one-arm push-up is a great exercise but it works more tricep than chest. This variation turns the focus to chest.
This is also a great push-up variation for when you’re travelling for a couple of reasons…first, you get more resistance and second, that stretch helps counteract the inwards-pulling position you tend to acquire while travelling (sitting for long periods in a plane or car).
Overall, it’s a great way to increase the intensity of your bodyweight chest training using very little equipment!
Nick Nilsson is known in the fitness industry as the “Mad Scientist of Muscle,” and for good reason! For more than 28 years, Nick has been creating unique, new exercises and training techniques and putting together some of the most innovative muscle-building and fat-loss programs available anywhere.