Is This the Ultimate Push-Up Variation?

STACK Expert Miguel Aragoncillo makes a case for what he considers the toughest Push-Up variation—the Single-Arm, Single-Leg Push-Up. Can you do it?

Ask your fellow athletes what they consider the toughest Push-Up variation and you'll likely get a few different responses, such as Clapping Push-Ups, Handstand Push-Ups and Spiderman Push-Ups. However, the true test of strength and grit is the Single-Arm, Single-Leg Push-Up.

Sound tough? It definitely is. Here's why:

Physics of the Single-Arm, Single-Leg Push-Up

The basic Push-Up is fairly simple. Your feet serve as a pivot point, your body remains in a straight line and you move it by lowering and raising your chest to and from the ground. Think of it as a moving Plank.

The Single-Arm Push-Up further increases the challenge. The muscles that act on your shoulder blades must engage, and your pecs and biceps must work to control your descent.

Lift the leg opposite your supporting hand, and take it to still another level. This creates a huge amount of torque throughout the body, which challenges your core to resist twisting and rotational forces. Notice the difference in the diagram below, in which the skeleton on the left shows the torque experienced when performing the Single-Arm, Single-Leg Push-Up.

Is it too Difficult For Me?

There's a strong chance you won't be able to perform this challenging Push-Up variation. You should already be able to do Clap Push-Ups, Weighted Push-Ups and Single-Arm Push-Ups—which again, most of you probably cannot do—before even attempting it.

If you find that you lack the requisite strength and aren't able to engage the proper muscles, don't proceed further. Attempting a variation that you're not ready for is equivalent to lifting a weight that is beyond your max. Your exercise form will suffer and you will increase your risk of injury.

How You Can Perform the Single-Arm, Single-Leg Push-Up

Fear not! You too can perform the Single-Arm, Single-Leg Push-Up. However, you need to build up to it.

After you've developed enough strength to attempt Single-Arm, Single-Leg Push-Ups, first try it with assistance from a resistance band (shown below). Wrap the band around your waist and attach it above you to reduce the load.

After you're comfortable with the movement, you can finally attempt this ultimate Push-Up variation. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Take in a big breath of air and brace your stomach as if you were going to get hit.
  • Spread your fingers as if you were clawing the floor.
  • Squeeze your glutes and engage the leg that's in the air to prevent energy leaks.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock