The wood chop is a versatile exercise that boasts lots of dope perks for your bod. It targets the entire core and can also strengthen your shoulders, legs, and butt 🍑.

Here’s how you can tap into your inner lumberjack and wood chop like a pro. We also have top tips to keep your workout safe and effective.

Psst. Don’t worry. You won’t actually need an axe for this!

Here’s how to do a basic wood chop:

  1. Plant your feet on the ground shoulder-width apart.
  2. Slightly bend your knees.
  3. Grip a dumbbell with both hands.
  4. Rotate your torso to the left.
  5. Raise the dumbbell over your left shoulder.
  6. Squat and rotate your torso to the right.
  7. Bring the dumbbell across your body until it’s close to the outside of your right hip.
  8. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  9. Switch sides.

Here are a few tips on proper form:

  • Don’t use your back to “chop.” Instead, focus on your core.
  • Hinge at the waist and let your knees absorb your weight when you swing down.
  • Try not to swing your arms too aggressively. The movements should be slow and controlled.

No dumbbell? No problem! You can also use a kettlebell, resistance band, or weighted medicine ball. Another popular option is a cable machine.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Set the pulley to the highest point.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Hold the handle with both hands.
  4. Grasp the handle and pull it down toward your left hip.
  5. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
  6. Switch sides.

Position variation

You can kick off a wood chop from a lunge position. Just start with your right leg in front of your left knee. Perform the exercise like you normally would, and then switch sides. You can also try it in a full-kneeling position with your knees parallel to each other.

How to make a wood chop more challenging

If you want to take things up a notch,

  • Place your feet closer together. This increases lateral instability and makes your muscles work harder.
  • Increase the weight or resistance you’re using. Just be sure it’s not too much. Overdoing it can lead to improper form and injury.
  • Slow your reps down. Slower speeds can be much more challenging. It’s also a great way to keep you focused on proper form.
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The wood chop offers beaucoup benefits for your body. It targets a bunch of muscles at once, including:

  • Shoulders. Your rotator cuff and deltoid muscles help you move the weight from high to low. Meanwhile, the scapular stabilizers help keep your shoulder blades stable as you move.
  • Core. Your core muscles — including the transverse abdominis and obliques — help stabilize your body as you perform the entire movement.
  • Calves and thighs. The thighs help stabilize your lower body while your calves provide power.
  • Butt and hips. Your upper glute muscles are the main squeeze here. But the hips also serve important movement functions.

But wait, there’s more! 4 additional wood chop perks

  1. It’s a functional movement and can increase strength and stamina. This can make everyday activities like lifting a kiddo off the ground, shoveling, or raking easier.
  2. In addition to working your upper and lower abs, it also targets the sides (aka obliques). This can help give you a more toned tummy. Bonus: Core strength has been linked to better stability, balance, and posture.
  3. It helps strengthen the muscles you need for rotational movement. That makes it a great workout for folks who play golf, tennis, cricket, or baseball.
  4. It may be a pain reliever. Since it’s a core stabilization exercise, the wood chop might help reduce lower back pain.
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Here are some tips to keep your wood chop seshes safe:

  • Start slow. Use a lighter weight or a lower resistance at first. You can always work your way up as you build strength and stamina.
  • Use your core. Some folks tend to bend their back during the chopping motion. This can put a lot of pressure on the spine and can increase your risk of injury.
  • Don’t push it. If it hurts or feels weird, STOP! You might be performing the exercise wrong. Try to slow your speed and decrease your range of motion, or try a less stressful variation.

Wood chops aren’t the only bomb core workout you can try. Here are some other top-notch exercises that have similar effects.

Lateral flexion

Like the wood chop, you’ll stand with legs shoulder-width apart and use a dumbbell to engage your core. It can also help strengthen your shoulders and tighten the obliques.

Dumbbell overhead squat

This exercise is a great way to increase stability and mobility. It engages the core, butt, and legs. You can add heavier weights to the mix if you also want to increase shoulder and bicep strength.

Around the world kettlebell swings

Your core will def feel the burn with this one. It’s also great for upper arm strength and can improve balance and posture.

Wood chops are a great core workout. They’re also super versatile and can be done at home or in the gym. Lots of folks use a dumbbell, but you can also execute the move effectively using a resistance band, cable machine, weighted medicine ball, or kettlebell.

Just be sure to keep your form solid. Use the right weight and take your time to reduce your risk of a sprain or strain.