It sounds like a cliche, but there is always a way to get better, regardless of the challenges that you are facing. Sometimes the answer is to redirect more time and attention to regeneration (sleep, flexibility, and nutrition), and sometimes you need to find a few exercise alternatives, despite an injury that limits use of a particular body part. Working through an injury, sickness, or busy practice schedule can be difficult, but with a little creativity you can still find a way to make the most of the situation.
Injuries to the wrists, elbows, and shoulders can all present some challenges to performing upper body lifts, but these types of injuries present an even greater challenge to the ability to load lower body movements. At Sparta, we have a return to play protocol that includes injury modifications and proficiency benchmarks for athletes who are dealing with a setback. The philosophy behind this return to play protocol is to maintain a large training effect through similar, but alternative exercises.
The Benefits of Unilateral Training and the 1 Arm Push-Up
With upper body injuries, one limb is often out of commission for a certain period of time. Unilateral training refers to training only one side of the body at a time. In the case of injury, we actually only train the non-injured side. Fortunately we are still able to make great progress due to the fact that training only one limb can increase strength in the opposite limb as well. Another huge benefit of unilateral training is the increased stability demands which improve postural strength. The 1 Arm Push Up has long been a popular feat of strength, but it is usually reserved for parlor tricks rather than a serious focus of training. This exercise deserves a place in your training program because of the serious amounts of strength and stability that it demands from the shoulder, elbow, trunk, and hips. The key to mastering this movement is to start with good progressions. We use an elevated bar in the rack in order to teach perfect movement and then gradually lower the bar and increase difficulty.
How to Do 1 Arm Push Ups
- Start with feet wider than the hips and one arm gripping the bar right at shoulder width
- Create external rotation force at the shoulder by “screwing” your hand into the bar
- “Pull” yourself down so that the upper abs touch the bar and push out of the bottom without letting the hips sag or rotate
The strength and body control that is developed through the 1 Arm Push Up will have a significant impact not only on your good arm, but also on your injured arm and Sparta signature. A little creativity and smart progressions can make a big difference in your recovery from injury. Don’t be a victim and just sit around for the obligatory six weeks of recovery. There is always something you can do to get better, and it might even be a little fun too.