Judo specific S&C with one arm?

 Hi all,

My brother is 17, he competes in judo, is interested in MMA and has limited use of his right arm since birth.

To give more details, he was with no forearm, no wrist, no thumb and two of his fingers stuck together. He has limited movement in his right shoulder and practically no movement in his wrist. He has had an operation to move the two fingers into a sort of makeshift thumb, but he hasn't got a very strong grip and it's (obviously) not opposable. His hand sits palm slightly upwards in it's "natural" position.

He has not got a lot of strength in his right arm, his biceps and triceps don't seem to be fully developed and are visibly smaller than his left.


I'm looking for suggestions for strength and conditioning routines and movements that can be done with one hand (or none to avoid uneven muscular development) to help him with general fitness and judo. 

He also needs to gain some quality muscle as he walks around at less than 50Kg and the lowest adult weight category is -60Kg (I think)

If anyone can help, or has any suggestions, please chime in.




I don't think you should be concerned with one side being larger than the other. That's going to happen no matter what. All that said, i would focus heavily on flexibility in both of his shoulders (to whatever extent is possible/recommended by his doctors on his right side). This focus, combined with regular postural checks (to insure there are no negative changes over time) should help to prevent problems arising from unilateral differences in size and strength.

For cardio, running, biking, and so on are available options. As with anyone else a blend of anaerobic and aerobic conditioning will be helpful. Also he can work one armed band throws, medicine ball throws, and so on, and possibly much lighter versions to help his weaker side (obviously only if he should and is able). Also, standard unilateral weight lifting training will help to build strength in the beginning.

More or less, besides a heavier emphasis on stretching, a standard program is what i recommend, but with unilateral versions.

If you want any further assistance with this from me, please feel free to email at MMAconditioning@yahoo.com. I'd be happy to help.


 Thanks Doug,

I'll be in touch


I don't know how much equipment you have but...

Speed strength work (maybe not needed yet) could be based around single arm db or kettlebell swings & snatches, also box jumps of various types.

For lower body strenth:
Hill sprints
Sled pulling
Squats with a hip belt would be key if you have one
Overhead db squat
Single leg deadlifts
Bulgarian split squats
(i'm recommending unilateral stuff because it requires less loading to be effective, so 1 db in hand could provide a challenge).

Upper body you could try single arm db bench
Single arm db overhead press
Bent db row
Maybe put a D-handle on a pulldown machine and try that as a sub for vertical pulls (don't know if that would work well or not but give it a shot).

I'd also try to do some lateral core stability type work because my guess in an imbalance could easily develop there. Maybe side bridges/planks if he can pull it off with the shorter arm.

Of course curlups etc.

Just ideas, good luck

 Wow, thanks.

I didn't understand all of that, but I'll sit down with him, work it out and come back to you if I have any questions.

"Maybe side bridges/planks if he can pull it off with the shorter arm."

What are planks?



He may not be able to support himself on the shorter arm though...

Probably someone else here will have a better idea

Zercher squats/deadlifts (hold bar in crook of elbows), dumbell/kettlebel cleans, 1-arm pushups, unilateral dumbell/barbell/pulleycable/medicine ball/elastic band work. And yes, I think curls would contribute to the program. Sandbag work, where he is able to clinch and manipulate the bag with both arms, would also be an efficient mode of training as well for both upper and lower body strength IMO.

Conventional one leg deadlifts have very limited loading potential because of balance issues, but this can be alleviated by placing your trailing leg on a bench behind you which allows much more weight to be used to overload the posterior chain.

You also may look into trying to construct a rudimentary strap that can be fastened to his right arm for some upper body strength work.