The One Arm Pull Up (OAP) is one of the most impressive strength moves in physical fitness history. It is a simple demonstration of phenomenal mental strength and extreme physical power. It instantly certifies superior body control over preconceived human limits. And it’s yours, if you really want it…
Most importantly, the OAP is not merely a mind-boggling strong-man ‘party trick’. Possessing OAP power means you can unleash incredible strength in all contact/combat sports to dominate your competition. Ability to bust out an OAP ensures total muscle strength; maximising power while minimising the risk of injury. That’s why a OAP is supremely useful for MMA, wrestling, climbing and all strength sports; football, ice hockey, rugby as well as picking up and lifting anything. With OAP power, when you grab something, it stays grabbed!
All men want to be stronger. Over the years I have had thousands of requests for an OAP tutorial from regular guys and top athletes from all over the world. As a result, I have developed this easy step-by-step program. Please be assured that many guys, of all ages (12-60+) and weights (100-230+lbs) have applied their mind to achieve this incredible feat of human strength. Now it’s your turn…
Pre-requisite Training for One Arm Pull Up/Chin Up Success:
Before you even attempt a One Arm Pull Up (OAP) or One Arm Chin Up (OAC), you must be able to do at least 15 regular full-range pull ups or chin ups. It is dangerous to attempt an OAP before you have the fundamental raw strength to employ the correct technique. Guys who blindly attempt an OAP before their muscles are strong enough risk injury by overloading their joints and tendons. Cool your jets, man. Be patient with your training, then you won’t be a patient with your physio!
This tutorial provides the skills and techniques to successfully perform a One Arm Pull Up (pronated grip) and One Arm Chin Up (supinated grip). It’s usually best to begin with the OAC, as it uses the bicep muscle as well as the back muscles, then you can graduate to the more difficult OAP.
Most important of all, listen to your body! Avoiding injury is the No.1 most important aspect of all physical fitness training! Tendonitis and joint pain is always a threat. It usually means muscle fatigue/weakness is transferring pressure on ligaments, tendons and joints, which is a recipe for injury.
Serious training for an OAP quickly exposes and brutally attacks any weak spots in your body’s musculature. If you feel any sharp pain in your wrist/elbow/shoulder joints, stop immediately! Assess the pain and if possible, slowly recover over a few weeks by doing regular two-arm pull up training outside the pain zone, until there is no pain, before continuing with the OAP program.
Remember that you are asking your body to perform the equivalent of an extreme full-range dumb-bell row, loaded with your bodyweight. Can you imagine that? Banging out a 150lb or 190lb+ dumb-bell row, just like that!? That’s a big lift and not something anyone should attempt without correct training. Which begins now. Wake up and smell the pull up bar!
Primary OAP Preparation: Two Arm Pull Up Training
Begin by doing two-arm pull up/chin up training to develop the required strength for a OAP. Vary the hand grip you use on each set, eg: close grip palms facing you (supinated), then palms away (pronated), wide grip palms in, then out and all variations in between, eg: one palm facing in, the other out (mixed grip). Changing your grip for each set weaves your muscle networks to dynamically optimise body strength. Also, pull your body up really high, not just to your chin; aim to get your chest to the bar! This technique will really extend the power range of your arms and is also crucial for mastering muscle-ups!
Do as many sets as you can, with a smooth, fast and high motion, to real failure, as often as possible. Going ‘fast’ will ensure you build explosive strength in your arms and shoulders, which will be crucial for your OAP.
Once you have completed as many reps as you can with a full range of movement, don’t stop; don’t get off the bar: keep doing half reps, then quarter reps, then just jiggle your body on the bar until your fingers burn and you actually drop off the bar. This is called going to ‘real failure’ and will significantly build your mental stamina and muscle endurance in preparation for the OAP!
The goal is to get to 15 solid pull up reps; explosively and very high. Then you can begin the next phase of achieving your One Arm Pull Up! You can and you will do it! You are competing against the ultimate adversary; yourself… and you will win! Because you are a human machine-beast!
Top 4 Advanced OAP Training Techniques
You will need to increase the grip strength and endurance of each hand to extreme levels. Until now, your hands and arms have been sharing the load of your body weight, which is nice, but not amazing. Now, each individual hand/arm must be trained to comfortably control double that weight, for banging out smooth OAPs and OACs. That will be amazing.
The following list of training techniques is strategically designed to hit and optimise every single muscle required for a successful OAP. Test each one and focus on the particular technique you ‘like’ the most. As you become better at that one ‘favorite’ technique, the other exercises will become easier and more productive. You will become proficient at all of them.
OAP training is very taxing on your muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments. Try training twice per week to begin with and take care to factor in recovery time as you upgrade to thrice-weekly OAP training. With your increased strength and understanding of the physiology in play, the OAP will be within reach. See… I told you it was going to be easy!
1. One Hand Pull Up Training
This technique will acclimatise your wrists and fingers to the extreme forces of a OAP. Grab on to the pull up bar with one hand and grab your wrist with the other. In order not to slip off the bar, you gotta grab really, really tight or you will just drop straight off! Then, pull your body up! You can begin with half-range reps to get the hang of it. Make your goal to start from a full dead-hang and aim to get your chin as high as possible over the bar.
When you can do one decent rep, stay up at full height as long (and high) as you can (this is called a ‘lock off’) and then let yourself down as slowly as you can, inch by inch – this is called a ‘negative’. Then try to ‘lock off’ at halfway, when your elbow is at a right angle. To finish, lower down slowly to a full straight-arm dead-hang, for as long as you can. Aim to achieve 10 strong fast One Hand Pull Ups.
As you get stronger, you can grab your pulling arm with your free hand lower along your forearm, away from your wrist. This increases the strength required for your pulling arm to raise your body. The next stage is to use the ‘wall assist’ technique by grabbing/leaning on the nearest wall/fixture with your free hand to help you raise up your body with one arm. You can also do this by tying a rope or strap to the bar to hold onto for assistance while you do ‘practice’ OAPs.
2. Weighted Pull Ups/Chin Ups
Gradual weighted two-arm chins/pulls are great. I started with just 2 or 3 lbs (even in water bottles in a small backpack) then I just kept adding water bottles as required! Do lots of fast reps with light weight and varied grip, but also do some reps with heavy weight. Even if you can just do a few reps with 10 or 15 lbs (or more), that’s fine, because it begins to ‘train’ your muscles for the ‘heavy stuff’ that is coming…!
As you progress, keep adding weight – but only so it’s comfortable. Importantly, back off as soon as you feel any pain. If you build up gradually you should be fine. I did it very gradually & had no injuries, but some guys overdo the added weight too soon and get injured. You can also try adding small weight to the other OAP exercises if you are strong enough. But be careful.
3. Finger/Elastic Band Assisted OAP/OAC
Doing one arm OPAs using just 2 or 3 fingers of the other hand for assistance is very useful too. You can get the feel of how much extra strength, power and speed you’ll need to do an OAP. As you get stronger, dare to use just one finger from your free hand to assist. Aim to get to 5 reps with one-finger assist. You can also use the large elastic gym bands to assist you to replicate the total movement of the OAP. Loop the band over the bar and step on it with one foot; keeping your core/legs straight and rigid. You may begin with the big band and as you get stronger switch to the smaller bands.
4. Towel-grip Chin Ups/Pull Ups
This technique builds crazy hand and finger strength. Roll a towel lengthways and hang/loop it over the bar and do pulls/chins gripping the towel. Grab the towel nice and high and grip it as tight as you can. Now, grip it even tighter; you must! Your hands will naturally grip the towel in a neutral or ‘hammer grip’ position, which is excellent for OAP training. Aim for 10 strong fast reps; be aware that the faster you rep, the tighter you have to grip! Fast is good. If it helps your performance, simply imagine that you are hanging above a pool of hungry sharks or molten lava or ex-girlfriends, and if you lose your grip you are done; it works for me!
Banging out your first OAP!
If you have followed the program and can complete the above exercises, you are ready to go for an OAP. You may have already succeeded in partial OAP reps and that’s excellent. It’s good to ‘experiment’ with your OAP ability and track your progress. The ideal goal is one strong seamless powerful full-range movement. You will become greased lightening!
Follow my tips below for total success:
*When executing every OAP from total straight-arm dead hang, start with a mental and physical ‘big shock pump’ to your lat, delts and bicep/tricep while squeezing the bar super-hard. Start the adrenalin explosion by telling yourself: “This is it! NOW!” Dedicated mental focus will kickstart your neuromuscular system for the extreme superhuman body weight action coming its way. Yowza!
*During all the exercises and in the execution of your actual OAP, be sure to always squeeze and grip the bar as tightly as you possibly can. This will activate more muscle fibres throughout your arms and ensure dynamic intensity throughout your whole body.
*As you pull your body up, you can contract/lift your core to bring your hips up towards your elbow. As you near the top of the bar with your chin, concentrate on cranking your elbow ‘downward’ as close as possible towards your hip, this will give you an extra few inches of lift and elevate your chin higher above the bar.
*Be sure to concentrate on breathing throughout all the exercises and OAP. Take sharp breaths in through your nose and out your mouth. Many people ‘freeze’ their breathing when performing strenuous exercise; don’t be one of them. ‘Sharp breathing’ alerts your sub-conscious that incredible strength is required and will power your muscles with the required oxygen.
OK, achieve your OAP and you’re a legit body weight King! But that’s just the beginning. Successful OAP ability will open the door to a world of powerful body weight moves, such as front-levers, muscle ups, planches and all the elements of the Olympic rings. Well done. Full respect to you.
Summary: The Psychology of the Successful One Arm Pull Up
Naturally, sheer physical strength is crucial to achieve a OAP; but it is not possible without using the correct mental preparation, training strategy and technique. To achieve your OAP as soon as possible, you must practice visualising yourself completing the full OAP rep. So, every night when you lie in bed with your eyes closed, instead of thinking about nothing useful, go through the intricate detail of your OAP from start to finish. (Visualisation techniques are proven to assist significantly with achieving goals.)
You can ‘visualise’ like this: Imagine all your muscles, joints and tendons are being primed, warmed up, prepared and then activated like a smooth powerful machine that can not be stopped! See yourself doing a warm-up of 20 fast push ups and 10 fast pull ups. Then re-psych, prepare and visualise as you execute the full OAP move effortlessly. Repeat this visualisation in full detail as often as possible until you fall asleep. Feel free to use any relevant visual imagery that really excites and stimulates you, (apart from the obvious, which will just distract you). Use the that same self-visualisation imagery as you approach the bar in real-life to actually bang out your first ‘OAP’ bad boy!
Once you have achieved the OAP, please be aware that it is a honourable achievement of physical and mental capital that commands respect. You worked very hard to own it; so it’s yours to treasure. People will hear about it and might casually ‘demand’ to see you perform it. But don’t just ‘give it out for free’. You are not a performing circus clown doing ‘requests’ for entertainment, nor trying to prove some egotistical point. If someone wants to see it and you feel like doing it, make sure you are warmed up, then tell them it’s a deal if they do something awesome for themselves in return, like 10 pull ups or even single push up… whatever the case may be. Respect is earned.
OAPs are not like riding a bike. If you don’t ‘use it’, you will surely ‘lose it’. It’s a ‘razor’s edge’ skill, with such an acute combination of physical and mental conditioning, that if you don’t nourish your OAP with regular training, it will disappear. So stay with it, and it will be your portable strength treasure forever. Kudos to you.
I trust this guide will be of use to you in your multi-dimensional quest for ultimate strength, health and happiness. Let me know how you progress and please feel free to email me for any questions or advice. I am more than happy to assist to you in your totally awesome journey. Yes brothers, hit it up!
Check out my YouTube channel and see the awesome playlist of OAPs by the shredded boys at the Bondi Gym.
6 CommentsSubmit a Comment
Hello Marcus Bondi,
I have met you in the Moscow Games 2014 in Russia and was very surpised about your performance.
So I decided to check out if you have a website in the internet and here it is. This article is very interesting and helpful, also motivating. I didn’t think of the point to conditionate yourself to succes by grabbing the bar as strong as possible and say “This is IT !!” I will do the OAC/OPA in the end of this year !
This is a very well written and interesting text. I feel like like the OAC is far away, but you have mangaed to get me inspired once again 🙂
This is very helpful! Step-by-step. This is the template I’ll be following for as long as it takes. I’m excited to bang out a full, perfect OAC for the first time.
Hello Marcus Bondi,
I’m a big fan, your knowledge is extensive and helpful. Also your attitude is brilliant and extremely motivating.
Getting back into training after a slump and aiming for a OAC I am sure ill have it by the end of 2019
Just a quick question do you have a guideline/goal to aim for in the weighted chins/pulls?
This article was excellent. Funny, motivating, and most importantly informative. I’m aiming for the 1 arm, will refer back to this.
Yeah David – you got it!