Global Bodyweight Training - Mike Fitch
The Archer Push-Up is a great variation to train for the awesome Single-Arm Push-Up!
This week’s exercise brings us back to a Horizontal “Pushing” Pattern (ie Push-Up category): The Archer Push-Up, which is a great total body exercise that is also helpful for training for a Single-Arm Push-Up.

In most cases if I asked someone to get down and perform a Single-Arm Push-Up (SAPU), what I usually see is a lot of twisting and hip dropping but very little elbow bend or shoulder movement. It’s usually more like an “air humping” then an actual SAPU. The key with what I consider to be a proper Single Arm is very much like a regular push up. The body is rigid and tight, with a neutral spine. The body drops and rises as one unit (without rotation), and is only considered to be complete once the chest touches the ground. That’s why it’s an impressive feat of strength when performed correctly.

There are multiple variations and progressions that will assist in your SAPU training, but the Archer Push Up is one of my favorites by far.

Mechanics of the Archer Push-Up: Why it Works

The Archer Push-Up is perfect for creating a variation that places the majority of the body’s weight on one side. The Archer allows you to take a higher percentage of your own bodyweight, with one arm, but also still allows the other arm to assist (slightly). Since the straight arm is extended and at a “mechanical disadvantage”, it can add just enough help while you are conditioning. Eventually you will no longer need the other arms assistance.

This exercise is also incredible for shoulder stability and strength. Both arms are playing an important roll and both of their connecting shoulder blades must create a solid connection with the torso as well as the entire body.

Benefits for the Trunk

Global Bodyweight Training - Mike Fitch
Keep your body tense and your center of gravity even!
Due to the off placement of the body’s center of gravity, the Archer Push-Up creates a rotational load that the trunk muscles have to control. This is exactly why it is so important to keep the entire body tense and connected with itself. The full SAPU has an incredible amount of counter rotation that has to be managed by the internal and external obliques, rectus, transverses, and the deep spinal stabilizers.

Variations and Regressions

You can modify the Archer Push-Up with variations and regressions, as we demonstrated in the video tutorial below.

Global Bodyweight Training - Mike Fitch
Archer Push-Up Regression: Keep arm on floor
Global Bodyweight Training - Mike Fitch
Variation: Use a kettle bell instead of a block

If you don’t have enough strength to start off with the arm elevated, the exercise can be regressed by placing the assistance arm on the floor instead of an elevated surface. You can eventually work your way up to place the assistance hand on a step, block, platform or any other suitable object. You want to keep the support object between 6 and 12 inches high, so that your body remains at the correct level and angle. Even a kettle bell will work just fine!

Good luck and keep training hard!

Some Supplemental Videos for You:

For some more tutorials on Push-Up variations (and another Archer style exercise, just for fun), check out these previous articles:

Published by Mike Fitch

Mike is the founder of Global Bodyweight Training. He has more than 12 years as a fitness professional encompassing a wide range of disciplines which he draws upon to create the GBT system.

Join the Conversation


  1. Cool. Thanks for this tip. I’ve been working up to a single arm pushup using a basketball (like the kettleball) as the support. I noticed, however, that my shoulders tended to hurt a bit afterwards. I assume that I was ‘cheating’ a bit too much on the last reps and putting too much strain on small muscles in the girdle.

    I never thought of doing single arm inclined PUs on the rings. I think I’ll give that a go, since I won’t be able to cheat (and hurt my shoulder)

  2. How about some tips for a 1 arm pull up? I’ll be trying this one tonight though 🙂 Not come across it before. Cheers

  3. Love the video. Really great variation. I’m going to rotate that into my workouts in place of regular pushups for an added challenge.

    Is there some way to download your videos?

    I would love to have your stuff on my MP3 player for reference without having to navigate to the site, etc.


  4. Holy smokes; that looks challenging. One day I’ll be able to do that 🙂 One day…

    1. Yes Michelle i’m a huge fan of using Gymnastic rings in my training! They are so versatile and can be used for total body conditioning.

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