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One Arm Pull-Up [Exercise Guide]

One Arm Pull Up

What Is One Arm Pull-Up

The one-arm pull-up is one of the most efficient bodyweight exercises for developing a strong upper back and biceps. It’s especially useful for climbers because the move develops the muscles needed for climbing and makes the athletes’ efforts more effective. Also, this workout may be dangerous for elbows, so practice it correctly and carefully.

Mastering one-arm pull-up requires a lot of practice. If you want to complete the exercise correctly, you should be able to raise your whole body weight with one arm. In some instances, training might take up to half a year. One needs strength, excellent balance, and explosive power to perform the movement. Therefore, patience and how-to guides are your best friends on the way to proper form.

What Muscles Does One Arm Pull-Up Work

The exercise targets:

  • Latissimus dorsi – a group of muscles in your upper back that anchor your arms to your body and help you adduct and extend your shoulders.
  • Biceps brachii – thanks to the biceps, an athlete can bend the elbow and rotate the forearm during the workout.
  • Trapezius – the top, middle, and lower traps are constructed from distinct groups of fibers. When doing a single-arm pull-up, your lower traps are responsible for keeping your shoulders down, while your middle traps allow pulling your shoulders back.
  • Forearms – in the workout, these muscles are involved as gripping ones.
  • Core – your abdominal muscles will keep your lumbar spine and legs stable throughout the movement.

How To Perform One-Arm Pull-Up

Step 1. Prepare your muscles

Never attempt the one-armed pull-up immediately after a back or arm exercise. It’s the most challenging part of your program, so save your muscles for it. However, some stretch and a little cardio before the practice are useful. 

Step 2. Get into the starting position

Use an overhand grip to seize the pull-up bar. The bar should be crossed with your thumb. The grip is a fine point since it determines the available mobility. However, you might try a few other grips (pronated, neutral, supinated, etc.) and find what will be the most comfortable for you.

Step 3. Activate the muscles in your back

It’s essential to know how to initiate the movement right. The answer is to pull your shoulder blade down as much as possible.

Step 4. Pull up

Bend your arm and pull yourself up. Raise till your chin reaches the bar. The key is to bring your arm as close as possible to your body.

Step 5. Return to the start

Lower your body in a slow and controlled motion. Crossing your ankles and bending your knees might increase your stability.

One-Arm Pull-Up Progression

There are several techniques to go from a pull-up to an OAP. Some individuals utilize resistance bands. Others use grip assistance, in which the aiding hand grabs something on the side. Let’s take a look at progression exercises that might help you prepare your body for practicing the one-arm pull-up. Here are the most effective ones.

1. Pull-Up

Pull-ups are a functional bodyweight exercise commonly used for training muscles of the upper body. It’s also an excellent way to prepare your body for a more challenging workout – one arm pull-up. Experts say that one should be able to do at least 15 strict pull-ups before doing OAP.

How to do a pull-up:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart under the bar. Jump up and grasp it with an overhand grip.
  • Cross your ankles and pull your knees to your chest for a stable posture. Hold your breath and raise your body until your chin touches the bar.
  • Lower your body, returning to the starting position.

2. Archer Pull-Up 

It’s a specific variation that suggests a bodyweight transfer from one arm to the other. Therefore, the archer pull-up enables the lifter to isolate and work a single lat at a time. Moreover, the greatest stress duration may help athletes gain muscular mass. These factors contribute to the successful training for one arm pull-up.

How to do an Archer pull-up:

  • Use an overhand grip to seize the pull-up bar. Make sure your thumbs are crossing the bar. Keep your hands at a distance of about a shoulder’s breadth apart.
  • Come up and to the left until your right arm is perpendicular to the floor. When making this move, the non-working arm should transfer on top of the bar and pull up diagonally toward the working arm.
  • Bring yourself back to square one and repeat the process with the other arm.

3. Banded One Arm Pull-Up 

When training for one-arm pull-ups, the banded pull-up may help develop the necessary muscle strength, balance and understanding of the move’s mechanics. You will keep working targeted muscles while also benefiting from the band’s mild resistance.

How to do a Banded one arm pull-up:

  • Place the band around the bar and reliably fix it, making a knot. 
  • Grab the bar with one hand, and hold the band in the other one. The lower you grab the band, the harder your workout will be.
  • Pull yourself up and bring the opposing shoulder to the bar.
  • Slowly lower your body to the starting position, extending your elbow. Go for the full range of motion.

4. One Arm Pull Up, Hand On Wrist 

Performing one-handed pull-ups requires a lot of upper body and gripping strength. If you feel like you are still getting ready for one arm pull-up but want to work your way to proper form, try doing OAP with your hand on your wrist. It will give you some support and enhance your lifting power.

How to do One arm pull up, hand on the wrist:

  • Grip the bar with one hand. Use a neutral grip. Some individuals find it easier to do the action if they bring their hand toward themselves.
  • Put the other hand on your working arm’s wrist. It will serve two purposes: supporting your lifting arm and providing a little boost to your lifting strength.
  • Pull up. Try swinging your non-lifting arm a bit. Doing so will give your body momentum, making it simpler to complete the movement.
  • Lower your body in a controlled motion, returning to the start.


The one-arm pull-up is a challenging bodyweight workout that targets the upper body and core and also strengthens your grip. All the benefits are available only if you do the movement correctly. We hope our guide helps you work your way to the proper form and make your workout safe and effective.