Channel your inner lumberjack (flannel shirt optional), because today we’re diving deep into the do’s and don’ts of a classic exercise: the wood chop!


This exercise is popular with more than just those in need of a roaring fire—Trainers love it because it works your entire body, with an emphasis on your obliques and upper abs.

The wood chop is also what we call a “functional exercise” because it mimics everyday movements like buckling a seatbelt, putting groceries in the car or putting a box on a high shelf. If you play any sports that involve twisting (golf, racket sports, baseball or even basketball), this exercise works muscles that can improve your game. 


So, what are you waiting for? Chop chop!


There’s no need to dig your ax out of the ol’ toolshed: the wood chop can be performed with a medicine ball, cable machine, dumbbells, weight plate, kettlebell or a weighted workout bar. Make sure you choose a weight you can use to comfortably perform 8-10 repetitions on each side with controlled movements. If you can’t manage quick starts and stops without momentum taking over, try a lighter weight.


Let’s get lumber-jacked:

  1. Start with your feet a little more than hip-distance apart with your knees slightly bent.
  2. Bring the medicine ball over one shoulder with your arms straight.
  3. Tighten your core and swing the ball diagonally across your body, focusing on the rotation of your torso. Exhale through the movement.
  4. Bring the ball back up above your shoulder. Make sure your movements are controlled as you perform 8 to 10 reps on each side.
  5. Imagine yourself chopping your way through a pile of wood. Feel proud that you’ll keep your family warm through the winter.