Rocky was right. When it comes to Soviet super-science against good old-fashioned American grit, there can only be one winner. And that winner, of course, is the man who can do the most one-arm press-ups. They’re the best upper-body strength-builder that you can do without weights and a brutal test of core strength and co-ordination too. Ten in a row is the goal. Get to 20 and you’ll be ready to see off Ivan Drago.
Tackle each of the mini-workouts twice a week, tacking them on to your normal gym sessions – or doing them at home. Once you can do the sets and reps for mini-workout 1, move on to 2 and so on until you’re ready for the real thing.
1. One-arm press-up
Sets: 4 Reps: 10 each side
Stallone does the easy version – you should be more ambitious. The purest one-arm press-up looks a lot like the regular version: feet shoulder-width apart, torso parallel to the ground, chest to the deck. Wider feet and a twist in the hip makes it easier, but either way, touching your shoulder to your hand is the standard.
2. Perfect press-up
Sets: 10 Reps: 10
Forget the usual gym-bro version. Your new standard is hands shoulder-width apart, elbows glued to your sides, body straight and chest touching the floor at the bottom. Set a timer and do ten every minute, starting on the minute, until you’ve done 100.
3. Diamond press-up
Sets: 5 Reps: 10
These will build the strength and balance you need in your triceps for the full thing. Start with a close grip and arrange your thumbs and forefingers into a diamond. Lower until your chest touches your fingers. Yes, that deep.
4. Kettlebell press-up
Sets: 3 Reps: 10 each arm
This variation allows you to practise the one-arm version with just a hint of support (using a sofa is also acceptable). Grasp the kettlebell handle and use it to support yourself as little as possible for the required reps.
5. Incline one-arm press-up
Sets: 3 Reps:10 each arm
Nearly there: all that’s left is to ease into the full version by starting at an angle and working your way down. Start on a table, chair or bench and do your press-ups. Once they’re too easy, reduce your support height and go again.
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