One-arm pull-ups represent one of the most impressive force movements in calisthenics.
The reason is obvious in a world where on average it is not possible to pull yourself with two arms doing it with only one is an incredible goal to achieve.
Like all things coveted it will not be an easy path doing an OAP without compensation will take you a lot of time and a lot of training.
Here, more than in other exercises your body weight will influence the success or failure of the skill: above 187 lbs there are very few in the world who can do it.
In any case, the preparations we are going to face will be very useful to improve your traction strength, even if in the end you should not reach the goal.
Preparation For One-Arm Pull-Ups
What are the prerequisites for starting to train one-arm pull-ups? Obviously, you will have to be strong with the pull-ups so at least between 20 and 25.
For those who have the possibility to use the overloads, be able to perform a repetition with more than half of the bodyweight with ballast pull-ups.
The path that we will see here will be without using the weights the fact remains that if you have them, supporting weighted tractions in the preparatory training would also be very useful to reach the goal.
Pull-up Team Legs / L-Sit
The first exercise we see is an increase in the difficulty of the pull-ups. Now, these aren’t actually straightforward propaedeutics, but they can be very useful once classic pull-ups have become simple.
Especially in those in L-sit, pay attention to the shoulders, because poor mobility can lead to problems in the execution of this exercise.
Another factor to keep in mind is that the increase in difficulty will not be for the whole movement, but only in the first phase, especially in the unlocking.
Asymmetrical Ring Tractions
I’m not a huge fan of this exercise, but they can come in handy for starting to focus on one arm.
I mentioned the rings as they are the most comfortable support for this type of exercise, as it will be very easy to keep one lower than the other. Obviously, the lower the assist arm ring is the more difficult the exercise will be.
Being an entry-level exercise, I advise you not to go too low on the ring, but when you have a fair number of repetitions move on to the next propaedeutic.
Obviously, do the same repetitions with one arm as you do with the other.
They are definitely not an exercise that I like, or that I often include in programming.
It involves performing normal traction until reaching the chin above the bar, then moving towards one arm extending the other, always remaining with the chin above the support.
Although not a fan this exercise can be useful as a preparatory to archer pull-ups, as the final position of the two exercises is the same.
In training, I have always included it only for those subjects who find it hard to understand how to do archers correctly, so that you can use intermediate steps to learn it.
If you are not among the “hard” subjects in learning a new movement pattern, just skip it.
Archer pull-ups are definitely one of my favorite exercises, as they are a nice increase in difficulty compared to classic pull-ups, and can be performed without having to carry weight or anything else.
In terms of comfort, I recommend performing this exercise with the rings as the non-rigidity of the support makes the movement more comfortable.
This does not mean that it is not possible to perform at the bar too, but while in the rings we will start with a normal grip, at the bar we should inevitably start wide enough to be able to keep the support arm extended.
Another piece of advice I give about this movement is to keep the hand of the support arm in false grip (both at the bar and at the rings), in order to strain the wrist less during the exercise, having better leverage.
Do not think about pushing a little with the assistance arm the amount of push from one repetition to another is not parameterizable, so don’t try to help yourself “a little”, because for the purposes of learning it would not help.
At the level of execution, you will go with the body towards the traction hand moving away from the assistance arm, the latter must be kept stretched for the entire duration of the exercise.
Keeping it folded can be a prerequisite for the final version, but I advise you to focus on keeping it taut right away.
It is important that the assistance arm, keep the shoulders retracted and depressed, and the stretch with arms that you are going to perform could be dangerous at the level of the shoulders and create some discomfort.
An additional tip is to keep the ring of the support arm a few centimeters lower than that of the traction arm in order to better fit the shoulder.
Finally, if you are going to perform alternating repetitions, I advise you to always get off the support and rearrange yourself: moving from traction to one arm and then to the other I have found that it leads more easily to bend the assistance arm.
When the archers have become easy, you can go to increase the difficulty of this exercise by performing them with the legs in a squared or L-sit, or gradually increasing the asymmetry between the rings.
Before moving on to the direct preparatory courses, or in any case, increasing the difficulty of the same, make sure you do a dozen of them.
Once you do it right, you will have taken a nice first step towards one-arm pull-ups.
Assisted Traction With Lateral Support Of The Bar
Let’s start by looking at the direct propaedeutics: the first is certainly the least interesting, it can be said that it is a much more uncomfortable asymmetrical traction.
In this exercise, we would have the hand on the bar and the assistance hand on the support poles of the same: the more we keep it low, the more the difficulty will increase.
Despite this, the first thing I did similar to a one-arm pull was thanks to this propaedeutic.
Rope Assisted Tractions
Here is a much more interesting exercise than the previous one basically it might seem similar, as it simply involves using different support than the pole that holds the bar up.
In reality, by holding the rope at the same point as the hand that pulls, we will have a condition identical to that of one-arm pull-ups.
In fact, the traction would no longer be with a closed kinetic chain but would become open as in those with an arm allowing the body to be free to rotate.
In this way, we would have the same set-up and this will be very useful in the learning process for one-hand pull-ups.
Here too, the more we go to lower the assistance hand, the more complex the exercise will be.
When you can do four or five reps with the assistance under your shoulders, you will be close enough to one-arm pull-ups.
Pull-Ups With The Climber's Method
In this exercise, the support will no longer be a bar or a rope, but directly the arm that you pull.
Here too we would therefore have the same physics of one-arm pull-ups, and this makes this exercise a valid ally in learning one-arm pull-ups.
I recommend it especially for training the first phase of the movement as closing is made more complicated by the obstacle given by the assistance arm which makes closing the movement difficult.
You will have the greatest difficulty in this exercise with the assisting hand resting on the shoulder of the pulling arm.
One-Arm Pull-Ups: The Final Step
Here we are at the final movement. It is very easy to see performing one-hand pull-ups with compensations, which greatly facilitate their execution. Let’s see what they are in order to avoid them.
Let’s start from the validity criteria of a one-arm pull-up, which is the same as for two-arm pull-ups: you start hanging from the bar, and you get to overcome it with your chin, at the same time breaking the parallel.
In fact, thanks to the rotation and the pulling of the assistance shoulder it can lead to reaching the chin level with the bar without having broken the parallel (shoulder higher than the elbow).
A very common mistake in the starting phase is to go to raise the shoulder of the arm that does not pull at the moment of release this gives great help in the release, one of the most complex phases of the exercise.
Other than that all types of kip are obviously considered mistakes – remember not because an exercise is complex that compensation or help can be justified.
As kip is also meant rushing with the assistance hand which instead must be stretched and along the body.
As regards specifically the pull-ups with a prone arm, an excessive rotation would not allow overcoming the bar both vertically and horizontally with the chin: a little rotation is in any case physiological as our body tends to supination when we approach hand to shoulder.
The degree of rotation also depends on your anatomy generally the more “bulky” you are the more difficult the prone closure will be.
The rotation problem obviously does not arise when you perform the ring exercise.
Ultimately, one-arm pull-ups represent an incredible test of strength performing just one will be an exceptional achievement.