How to Train for One Arm Pull Up?

The one arm pull up is a true feat of power requiring a combination of strength and technique to master. Few people can perform it. But if you are willing to dedicate the necessary time and practice and follow this progression, YOU can be one of them.

Before you begin your one arm specific bodyweight training, you should be able to complete at least 15 strict pull up reps. Once you become proficient with your two arm pull ups, add weight and resistance to increase your strength. But remember, you need strength AND technique. Your weighted routine will make you stronger but will not teach you the proper technique for it.

Use these recommended pull up exercises to improve your technique, form, and boost the power of your upper body:

Thanks for the great tutorial for the guys at CalisthenincsMovement

Note: The one arm chin up is maybe an easier form, so you may start with it.


Let’s recap the one arm pull up progression steps

One arm scapula depression

One arm scapula depression

The one arm scapula or shoulder blade depression is a single arm static or active hanging. It is an excellent drill to develop scapular control.

Simply hang by one arm as you concentrate on lowering your scapula which fires the supporting back muscles. In the static variation, hang and stretch as the scapula is lowered. Once comfortable with this workout advance switch to the active (dynamic) version. That means lower then raise your scapula, moving it through the complete range of motion. Each pull up movement begins with an active one arm scapula depression.

Tip: Grip strength is essential for this exercise, so have dedicated training. There are many bodyweight grip and forearm exercises; for example, the one arm dead hang or one hand flex hang is good to start with.


Typewriter pull ups

Typewriter pull ups

To perform this exercise, start with a regular complete pull up. But at the top of the workout, extend one arm straight out to the side, then return to center and extend the other arm and alternate. Always train each arm and each side of your body equally to balance your strength and symmetry.

Note: Increase the rep range to 10-15 before you progress to a more advanced activity.


Archer pull ups

Archer

Once you become comfortable with your typewriter pull up advance to the archer, also known as cliff hanger pull ups. Start with both arms straight at the bottom of your move then bend one arm and pull yourself up as the opposite arm remains straight throughout the entire workout. Straighten the bent arm as you lower yourself to the start position and repeat with the other arm. Remember that the straight arm remains straight as you raise yourself up and then lower back to the bottom.

Tip: Weighted pull ups are also excellent to improve power if your body weight doesn’t give enough hardness. We can use a weighted vest or attach plates to the dip belt.


Uneven pull ups

Uneven pull ups

These are performed with your hands at different (staggered) heights. Use rings at staggered heights if available, or if you are using a pull up bar, use a rubber band or towel for the staggered grip. As you progress in strength, lower that staggering arm and remember to keep the higher arm close to your body throughout the move.

Hint: An exciting way to develop lats, shoulder, core, and arm strength, try rope climbs.


With a resistance band

pull ups with a resistance band

Loop the top of a band over the pull up bar and place one foot in the bottom of the band and perform your assisted one arm pull ups. Remember that the band does not provide even or equal resistance throughout the movement with the greatest support being at the bottom of the motion. If you have a variety of bands available, you can change them out as you become stronger.

Tip: Use different resistance bands to increase or decrease support.


Negatives

Negative one arm pull ups

Perform your two arm version, but at the top of your action release one hand and slowly lower your body back to the start position as you resist gravity. At the bottom, place your hand back on the bar or rings, pull yourself up, and repeat as you alternate hands. Negatives are mild to target the required muscles groups.

Advice: Lower your body fat with cardio and diet.

Mastering this advanced bodyweight exercise requires strength, skill, and dedication to training. The training is demanding and strenuous, so ALWAYS warm up thoroughly before your workout to reduce your risk for injury. If you follow the exercises and training progression outlined here and demonstrated in the video, you will soon be performing those one-arm pull-ups with ease!

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James Wright

James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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