Exercise of the Week: Single-Arm, Single-Leg Push-Up

The Single-Arm, Single-Leg Push-Up is an advanced variation of the standard Push-Up that will strengthen your chest and core at the same time.

Single-Arm Single-Leg Push-Up

Every week, STACK brings you a new Exercise of the Week to challenge your strength, speed, conditioning or flexibility—or all of the above.

The Exercise

The Single-Arm, Single-Leg Push-Up is an advanced variation of the standard Push-Up that will strengthen your chest and core at the same time.

To lift an arm and your opposite leg at the top of a Push-Up, you must engage your deep core muscles to stay balanced. This anti-rotational component is critical for helping you maintain control of your body when throwing and swinging, or when absorbing contact from an opponent.

In addition to helping you build a stronger chest and core, the exercise also improves:

Shoulder Stability. When you balance on one arm and one leg, the small muscles that support your shoulder must fire to keep your joint stable. Strengthening these muscles can prevent injury from a tackle or from overuse.

Back Strength. Lifting your arm at the top of the movement activates and strengthens your scap retractor muscles, which are critical for back and shoulder health.

It's Tough. The first time you try this, there's a good chance you'll have a hard time keeping your balance. That's OK. Keep working at it, and you'll be able to hold a stable single-arm, single-leg position in no time.

How To 

  1. Assume push-up position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Perform a Push-Up.
  3. At the top of the movement, raise your opposite leg and arm. Your arm should be bent at a 90-degree angle with your thumb pointed toward the ceiling.
  4. Lower your arm and leg to return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side and continue in alternating fashion.

Common Mistakes and Fixes

Mistake: Allowing your back to arch, which places stress on your spine and removes your core from the exercise.

Fix: Keep your body in a straight line. To do so, keep your core tight and imagine sucking your belly button to the ceiling.

Mistake: Failing to perform a Push-Up through your full range of motion. An abbreviated Push-Up may be easier, but it won't help you achieve the gains you want and need.

Fix: We're performing full Push-Ups here. Lower your chest until it's an inch above the ground and straighten your elbows at the top of the Push-Up.

Mistake: Losing your balance when holding the single-arm, single-leg position.

Fix: This is an extremely difficult position to hold, so you need to ensure that your entire body is tight. You already know why it's important to tighten your core, but you also need to engage your glutes and quads to avoid unwanted movements that can throw you off balance.

Mistake: Failing to engage your scap retractors and removing your back from the exercise.

Fix: Make sure your elbow is at a 90-degree angle and point your thumb toward the ceiling. As your arm raises, pull your shoulder back as far as you can.

Applying It to Your Workout

The Single-Arm, Single-Leg Push-Up can be performed once or twice per week as an assistance exercise. It's not a replacement for your main upper-body muscle builders, so do it toward the end of your workout or during your core routine.

You can also incorporate it into a dynamic warm-up. It simultaneously activates the chest, shoulder stabilizers and core muscles, prepping your body for heavy upper-body lifts.

Strength: 3x5-10 each side

Warm-Up: 1-2x5 each side

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock