Doing one arm has many advantages On climbing hard. For one, you can have a beer while doing one arm. You can impress your friends at parties, picking up chicks, meat heads, or whatever you like. If you can do one arm, you will always look strong, no matter how fit you are. Your biceps and shoulders will be huge. Doing one arm is objectively great.
But I won’t beat around the bush here: The elusive one-arm secret is that there’s no secret. Just like climbing, there is no set way to achieve the rep, but rather a series of steps you can take to set yourself up for success.
Spread over the past few years, I’ve done exactly five single arms. I am happy to achieve it at various points, but by no means do I have the skill. It’s worth noting, dear reader, that there is only a limited relationship between doing one arm and climbing aggressively. Think about it: How many times do you climb and then suddenly grab one arm to make a move? Climbing is a full-body sport, while one arm exercise is an isolated exercise. As such, I’ve met a lot of V14+ or 5.15 any climbers who just can’t get one out.
On the other hand, I’ve never met anyone who could complain with one arm of his skill.
- ABC pull: This exercise was taught to me by no one but me Ganga Garnpreet Coach Roman Krajnik. It’s a two-handed exercise, so it’s great for building foundational strength. Start by doing a pull-up on a pitcher or bar. Once you reach the top, lower 90 degrees and hold for five seconds. Lower completely, and repeat without jumping. You will do this four to five times. Then rest for 45 seconds and do six to eight sets in total. Like climbing, the exercise involves both pulling and holding – which are crucial to the ability to hold and control the suspensions. It also helps increase your time under tension (TUT), which is the amount of time you actively engage a group of muscles. Increasing your TUT can help build strength and even tendon health, which will ultimately be essential in performing this one-arm.
- Variations: Try lowering for five seconds rather than pressing a 90-degree lock. Or add weight to make it more difficult. Or shed the weight and try to be explosive while pulling. There are many ways to modify this.
- Weighted withdrawals: Another hand exercise! Weighted pull-ups are great for building maximum strength and power. For this exercise, it is important that you warm up completely and gain weight slowly. Add more weight and do fewer repetitions to increase strength, or do less weight and more repetitions to increase core strength.
- Note: Many people would like to know what percentage of their body weight you should be able to stretch in order to do a single arm. Based on my own experience, I’d say 70 percent or more sounds correct, although I’ve heard many others say 80 percent.
- Single lever lock: For this exercise, you may need to lose weight with a pulley system or put your foot into a resistance band. Use both arms to jump up into the upper position to pull up. Then let go of one arm and go down with the other. Pick a corner to stop at and then continue. I generally aim to hold the position for 8 to 10 seconds. Over time, you’ll want to perform this exercise in different locking positions, but you may want to stick to only one corner for a certain session. If you can lock in for more than 15 seconds with your body weight, try to gain more weight. Note: Avoid holding the lock on top of the strap. This extreme angle puts a lot of pressure on the elbow and is not as effective as locking in lower degrees.
- Single-arm negatives: Use both arms to jump up into the upper position to pull up. Leave it with one arm and then go down with the other. The “negative” should be performed slowly, with complete control all the way through. Aim to take down in five seconds or more. You may need to lose weight with a pulley system or put your feet in a resistance band. You can also hold onto something with the other hand (such as a band or lever) to help you control the bottom. Cons It is one of my favorite exercises for single arm training. You can easily pair them with single arms or auxiliary arms to do the “upper” part.
- Single arm offset: Perform with one arm while holding a sling or belt with your other hand to help. The longer you hold the lower harness/belt, the harder the single arm will be. Personally, I prefer a fixed assist, such as from a sling, over a variable assist from an elastic band because it is more applicable to climbing.
- Single arm assisted: These will be the most applicable in helping you learn the skill because they are the most specific. The single-arm assist can be done when losing weight with a pulley system or if you put your foot into a resistance band. The main difference between offsetting one arm and assisting arms is that you hang freely from one arm instead of using the other arm for stability/balance and assistance. Therefore, single arms help you gain strength in the right form.
Steps to progress
I find diversity is key. You will need to mix up your routine, varying the number of repetitions/sets performed for each exercise and the amount of weight you add or take off. This is why achieving your first arm is a challenge: Performing the same exercises every week forever will eventually result in a plateau.
One thing I’d like to remind myself of is that you should Manufacture Gains happen. It will not happen on its own. This means that you will need to dig deep while performing the above exercises. If you’re tired, I recommend not doing them at all and saving your reps when you’re new.
Performing a single arm assist will help you secure your form. You may need to experiment to see which is easiest for you. Many people prefer twisting their arm while pulling up (consider switching from a pull-up position to a chin-up position when you reach the top), while others prefer to stay more distance since it applies squarely to most face climbs. Ideally, you’ll be good at both.
Alex Puccio once did six straight arms. Sean McCool can do all fours. There is a video on Instagram of Jongwon Chon doing 20.
Is Adam Ondra the best climber in the world? In 2010, Ondra sent the first 9B (5.15B) with Golby de Estado, in Siurana. In an interview with Baurock.ru, He said he can only do 30 hand pulls and one arm zero. “Too weak on pull-ups, ah?” He said. “Climbing is a fun sport.”
Ondra has advanced over the past decade, both in climbing and power pulling. In Ned Fehley’s book, monster makingOndra said he can now do 16.
For most climbers, one or two straight arms will likely be the end goal. But patience and hard work will be the key.