I broke my arm a week ago and am now in a cast to my elbow. I've been working on pull-ups/pushups/crunches for over three months, but now I obviously can't anymore. What are some body-weight exercises I can do with one hand that work approximately the same muscles (minus my right arm muscles)that I can manage with one hand?


  • 4
    You could focus on the lower body--squats, lunges, sprints, jumps... Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 1:09
  • pushups leaning against a wall? They're usually a rehab exercise, but with one arm, it may be a challenge. to do with one hand
    – DavidR
    Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 16:46
  • If you get a dumbbell or kettlebell, lots of good stuff becomes available: overhead presses, Turkish get-ups, windmills, side presses, cleans, snatches... Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 14:19
  • @DaveLiepmann playing devil's advocate, Turkish get-ups do require both arms unless you're extremely proficient in them and can do Pavel's "Tactical Get-Up"
    – Dark Hippo
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 9:04

2 Answers 2


I strongly suggest AGAINST working on one arm only. It will only make a bigger disproportion between your arms. One arm would get a workout and improve from its current state, while the other would get weaker because of the immobility causet by the fracture.

Take it easy, give yourself a break and dont do any training with one arm that cant be accomplished by the other. As David suggested, work on your abs, glutes, legs, back etc.

  • 5
    -1. Research suggests that contralateral training does produce beneficial effects in the immobilized/injured limb. There is some small debate as to whether it is muscular or neurally related, but the effect is there. Here is a study and a meta-analysis of other studies for reference: jap.physiology.org/content/101/5/1514.short jap.physiology.org/content/96/5/1861.short
    – JohnP
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 14:35
  • I'm going to agree with @JohnP. While I see your point... The OP doesn't have to try to bulk up while his arm is broken. He can workout using a maintenance routine to not lose muscle mass in both arms. Then post recovery and upon doctor's approval, can start to work his weakened arm back as close to equal as possible.
    – BryceH
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 14:41
  • 1
    There's an argument to be made for just chilling out, letting your injured arm heal, and accepting that you're going to be injured and maybe weak for a little while. I've personally made things worse by trying to "work around" an injury too aggressively. I don't have any great or consistent guidance... When I lift hard, I tend to subconsciously tense up a lot of the muscles in my body. Once, doing a hard set on a leg press machine I felt like I was irritating an injured elbow.
    – DavidR
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 21:12
  • I dont have those studies handy, but i read that even visualisation of a workout brought a small strength increase in muscles that werent actually used - maybe that explains the beneficial effects you mention? Also, the very study you recommended claims that probably most of the strength increase was neurally related. We both could argue on our points of view, but to be frank, in my humble opinion, the potential gain of one-sided training is minimal, while the risks are higher. Tree weeks of hard training on one arm could make a disproportion, while a brake 3 weeks long wouldnt hurt so bad.
    – K.L.
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 23:18
  • @K.L. - You wouldn't "hard train". Basically you would be doing maintenance workouts. There is going to be some loss of fitness over the time frame, the goal is to mitigate that loss as much as possible.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 14:58

I would advise against one arm training with upperbody, as the muscles on one side of your body might be disproportionate in strength. For instance, a one armed dumbbell press will only workout one chest muscle. As far as specific bodyweight exercises, there aren't really many without use of a machine or a cable that work both sides of the body and that spare your arm. I can think of several exercises if you don't mind the muscle asymmetries but to hit both sided---

Air squats,

Swiss ball hamstring curl,

Swiss ball jacknife

, sled pulls with a strap around your waist

, squat jumps without weight.

Regular squats might be feasible if you have use of your hand for grip but it can still apply more than the recommended use of 5 to 10 pound weight restrictions doctor's usually give you. Again this isn't a bodyweight exercise


Crunches, decline crunches, Swiss ball crunches,

Crunch with rotation, or twist with a medicine ball

Several other ab exercises

Possibly pallov press?

Sprinting is also great for full leg development

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