When you’re browsing Instagram in bed before you fall asleep (as we all do) you notice that some pro-climbers are posting videos of themselves doing one arm pull ups. If you’re like me, you find it freaking impressive as all hell. Simply trying one arms is insanely difficult it turns out, so I decided to look into some exercises to help a little ol’ novice like me.
After browsing the internet and talking to some guys at my gym who worked their way up to one arms on their own, I comprised a series of easy, weekly exercises. Now, this should be obvious but just in case someone out there doesn’t realize: you must already be able to do pull ups before you train for one arms. Your ambition is great, but master one thing at a time! I would suggest that before attempting these particular exercises you should be able to do around 10 pull ups. To help you master pull ups, check out my frenchies tutorial!
I’ve organized these exercises in a series of 3 steps, with exercises for 4 days of the week. Feel free to move things around to fit your schedule but remember to keep some rest days. I will be starting this program as well and posting my progress. Note: whenever I mention “rest”, I only mean rest those muscles pertaining to that particular exercise. If you want to work on your footwork, jumping power, etc., go ahead! Let’s begin!
- A thick rope (can be substituted for the lower rung on a hangboard)
- A hangboard or pull up bar
Max off-set pull ups: With one hand on a jug, place your other hand 6 inches below either on the rope drapped over the other jug (seen in picture), or on the bottom row of the hangboard. Pull up so chin reaches over hand that is placed on the jug. (The idea here is that your jug arm is doing most of the work while your other arm is merely picking up the slack.) Repeat this exercise for 8 sets (4 each arm), max reps, 5 minutes of rest in between each. When you can successfully complete 3 pull-ups with each arm with with your other arm 6 inches below you are ready to lower that arm another 6 inches (or remove one finger if your using the lowest rung on a hangboard). Keep progressing and lowering 6 inches at a time until you can successfully do 3 with each arm with your other arm 2.5 feet (or using only one finger with your other hand) below the bar.
Max off-set lower downs: With one hand on a jug, place your other hand 6 inches below either on the rope drapped over the other jug (seen in picture), or on the bottom row of the hangboard. Begin with chin above the bar/hangboard and very slowly lower yourself to a straight hang. Drop down and repeat. Repeat this exercise for 8 sets (4 each arm), max reps, 5 minutes of rest in between each. Again continue progressing in 6 inch increments until you can do 3 with each arm from 2.5 feet below the bar.
By this point you can probably already do a one arm starting from 90 degrees. Yay for you! Feel free to incorporate those into training as well but continue on with step 2 so that you can fully master the full extension one arm pull ups!
Max off-set pull up frenchies: Get into the off-set pull up position. Beginning with a dead hang, do max amount of frenchies by going up (lock off for 3 seconds at 145, 90 and o degrees) and slowly lowering down back into dead hang. Repeat this exercise for 8 sets (4 each arm), max reps, 5 minutes of rest in between each.
Max lower down frenchies: Begin with chin over the bar. Release one arm and slowly lower until arm is mostly straight and then drop down. Remember to maintain control of the lower down. Repeat this exercise for 8 sets (4 each arm), max reps, 5 minutes of rest in between each.
Enjoy and climb on xx
P.S. Another great way to train one arms is with a pulley system (a lot easier to setup than it sounds). I’ll be putting up a ‘how to’ for setting that up and incorporating into your training later on.