The One Arm One Leg Pushup

If 10 Push-Ups Are Good, Eleven Must Be Better…Right? A Case for the One Arm One Leg Push-Up

When it comes to push-ups more reps doesn’t necessarily equal more strength. The one-arm one-leg push-up is the perfect way to increase the difficulty of each rep without adding bodyweight or the need for fancy equipment.
In a famous scene from the Rock & Roll Mockumentary “This is Spinal Tap” the infamous lead-guitarist from the World’s Loudest Band, Nigel Tufnel, shows off his favorite guitar amplifier with custom volume knobs that don’t stop at 10, but go to 11 instead.  The interviewer asks the guitarist why not make 10 louder? All the guitarist can say in response is “These go to eleven.”  It becomes clear that in Nigel’s mind 11 will always be better than 10.  Nigel obviously values quantity over quality.  This is exactly the approach most people take towards push-ups and bodyweight training; instead of doing something better, they just do more reps.

[ Watch Nigel’s interview here: ]


It’s not difficult to imagine Nigel as personal trainer or strength coach.

Nigel Tufnel on Bodyweight Training

Imagine Nigel saw an ad hiring personal trainers and said to himself… “I could do that”. He decides to write a workout that is comprised entirely of bodyweight exercises… and all the reps for each set go to eleven.

Nigel Tufnel: The reps all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and…

Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most reps only go up to ten?

Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.

Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it’s better? Is it any stronger?

Nigel Tufnel: Well, it’s one better, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be working up to ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on your tenth rep. Where can you go from there? Where?

Marty DiBergi: I don’t know.

Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?

Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.

Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One better.

Marty DiBergi: Why don’t you just make ten harder and make ten be the top number and make that a little harder?

Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

When it comes to push-ups or any other form of bodyweight exercise most people, think along the lines of Nigel: more is better. However, at a certain point cranking out more pushups won’t build stronger pushups, just more endurance. The truth is that max-strength is built with weights or exercises that challenge you with low reps. In the weightlifting world it’s common practice to add weight to the bar and start over with lower reps, when you can eventually move a heavier weight for more reps, just add more weight and start over. With bodyweight exercises adding bodyweight isn’t an ideal option.

If you want to develop more pure pressing strength anytime anywhere with bodyweight alone and you’ve already built up to being able to perform 10 strict push-ups… where do you go from there? Instead of adding reps, the more efficient choice is to make 10 reps a little harder, or… make 3 reps really hard and build up to 5 reps. So, what kind of pushup requires attention to detail, is significantly harder, builds serious strength and requires no equipment…

The One Arm One Leg Pushup

The One-Arm One-Leg Pushup

  • Start at the top of the push-up position plank. 
  • Balance in the top position while lifting one arm and the opposite leg.  
  • Descend with control while keeping your chest parallel to the floor. 
  • Touch your non-pressing shoulder to the floor lightly, then press yourself back up to the starting position.


One arm one leg push-up. Inspired by the StrongFirst SFB Challenge.Although my SFB credentials lapsed I’ve tried to stay true to the principles it represents. #StrongFirst#SFBChallenge
Posted by Omaha Elite Kettlebell: Stronger for Life on Saturday, March 28, 2015

Give the OAOLPU a try and may be shocked at the number of challenges it presents.
Here are just a few:

  1. The OAOLPU requires a different and much more precise technique than most people are accustomed to.
  2. Tremendous core strength.
  3. Coordination and timing of balance, tension, breathing and movement.
  4. Good shoulder mechanics,
  5. The ability to sustain a high degree of focus and strong muscular contraction throughout the movement.
  6. Finally, the OAOLPush-Up requires you to work both sides of your body equally, as your stronger arm can’t help when performing the push-up with your strong arm.

Coming Soon…

Part II: 11 Tips for Conquering the One-Arm One-Leg Push-Up
Remember, most lists only go to ten.

PART III: The One-Arm One-Leg Push-Up Plan

One comment on “If 10 Push-Ups Are Good, Eleven Must Be Better…Right? A Case for the One Arm One Leg Push-Up

  1. Pingback: Part II: 11 Tips for Achieving the One-Arm One-Leg Push-Up | Omaha Elite Kettlebell

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