Uneven Push Ups

Push-ups is a compound strengthening exercise that works multiple muscle groups at the same time. Just when you think you’ve mastered the push-up — surprise! Other variations pop up. You may be familiar with incline push ups or push ups, and even clap push ups, where you explode up from the ground to smack your hands together before lowering back down, but you’ve become aware of another version of this ever-varied exercise: the Uneven push-up. This is an advanced variation of the basic pushup, providing a more rigorous workout.

This push-up off-shoot is quite simple, really. You get into a regular push-up, but one hand is elevated on a higher surface while the other hand remains just slightly outside your shoulders on the ground. This position increases the challenge of the exercise for both your core — to keep you stable in the cocked position — and the shoulder, tricep and pecs of the side that remains on the ground. You don’t want to choose something taller than about 8 inches, as this will strain your shoulder joint and limit your range of motion. To increase the instability of the exercise and challenge the muscles of your core to fire extra hard, place one hand on a medicine ball or a balancing disc. For a real challenge, do an alternating uneven push-up with a medicine ball.

Benefits of Uneven Push Ups

The shoulder is the most movable joint in your body. You use your shoulders to lift, push and pull objects. In comparison to other joints, your shoulders are vulnerable to dislocation or strain. Doing pushups strengthens connective tissue and muscles in your upper body, and helps you to avoid injuries. The uneven pushup allows for better overall "normal" push up performance:

  • Uneven push-ups are done to improve the stability and train the upper body.
  • Shoulders have a bigger range of motion giving them a challenge to widen the muscle.
  • The Pectoralis Major, Serratus Anterior, Deltoids are the muscles to be benefited with this exercise.

Instead of a ball you can use more stable objects, like as bricks. However, a ball is preferable, as with the balancing you also train and strengthen the rotator cuffs. This is an important detail of the exercise, which allows you to prepare the rotator muscles for more serious stress. You can try using a hard/medicine ball, but there is no equal to the basketball and the convenience of being able to grab it in your hand.

How to Do Uneven Push Ups

Get into the classic pushup position; feet together, legs, hips and back aligned, and arms straight with the palms on the floor beneath your upper chest. With one arm firmly supporting you, place the other hand on the chosen tool. Both your hands should be directly below your shoulders for stability. It’s important to distribute your weight evenly. Once you have found your balance, do your best to evenly distribute your weight through both hands. At first this will not be easy, but persevere.

  1. As you breathe in, slowly bend at the elbows and shoulders until your chest touches the top of whichever hand is on the ball.
  2. Pause briefly before pressing back up to the start position, while breathing out.
  3. Push yourself up again, without pushing the elbows through completely do not let the hip hang down.
  4. Either do an entire set with the tool at the same side, or change after every rep.
  5. For a consistent muscle gain, do the same number of reps with every arm.

Anybody who can do close pushups properly should be ready to attempt this exercise with confidence. If there are problems at first, they will be due to a lack of coordination rather than insufficient strength. If you have trouble, try using stable objects rather than an unstable basketball a simple house brick is a good alternative. Once you can do twenty reps with one hand on a flat brick, try two flat bricks, one on top of the other. When you can do twenty reps with three stacked bricks, attempt the exercise with the basketball again.

Training Goals

When you do an uneven pushup, you’re fooling the body to go low enough. By doing uneven pushups, you’re working your pectorals, deltoids and triceps.

  • Beginner: 1 set of 5 rep (both sides).
  • Intermediate: 2 sets of 10 (both sides).
  • Advanced: 3 sets of 20 (both sides).

Uneven Push Ups for Beginners

If you find any variation of the uneven push-up too challenging, even the alternating uneven push-up with a medicine ball, modify by placing your knees on the floor. As you grow stronger, you can progress to doing pushups on your hands and feet. Alternatively, use a spotter, who supports your ankles or calves while you do the pushups. Spreading your hands beyond shoulder-length distance makes the exercise more challenging.

Uneven Push Ups for Advanced

To increase the difficulty of the exercise use two balls of different size, one below each of your hands.

Master to One Arm Push Ups

You might try the uneven push-up because you like a challenge. Your body also benefits from mixing exercises up a bit — if you’ve mastered the push-up, you get limited gains continuing to do it in the same way over and over. You can’t easily add weight, unless you gain serious pounds, and your body moves in the same pattern with each repetition. An uneven push-up targets the muscles from different angles. It also introduces the added challenge to the core and increases the intensity for one side (the one with the hand on the floor). If you’re careful to do equal sets on each side, it could even lead to upper-body strength gains.

The uneven push-up also serves as part of a progression to learning how to do the advanced one-arm push-up. Once you’ve worked up to full push-ups, do them with narrowly placed hands to increase the activation of the triceps and core — these are known as triangle push-ups. Once you can easily bang out 12 reps, or more, of triangle push-ups, aim to conquer uneven push-ups with a hand on a medicine ball. Next, you’ll take other variations, including half one-arm push-ups in which you wrap one arm behind your back as you bend the other elbow to lower halfway to the floor (rather than all the way).