Chopping and changing – your body

Enjoy a wood chopping full body workout without needing an axe. Or forest.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

If you’ve ever been wondering “If only there was an exercise that not only really worked my core but also my whole body…” then this is your lucky day.

Enter the wood chopper.

Named after its resemblance to someone going to town with an axe on a stubborn log, this exercise packs an almighty punch.

It seriously works your core muscles such as your abdominals and obliques (side muscles on your lower torso).

It also incorporates your legs, arms, shoulders and back. Wood choppers also give you a short, sharp cardio blast, depending on the intensity.

Best of all, you only need a medicine ball, dumbbell, weight plate or something similar. Cable machine at the gym.

Anything easy to hold with both hands weighing between 2kg – 8kg.


1: Start by standing feet shoulder width apart, holding the weight in front of you, at your stomach.

2: Squat down and bring the weight to the outside of your lower right leg.

3: Stand up powerfully and as you do raise the weight from outside your right leg to over your left shoulder, twisting your torso as you come up.

4: Finish the move looking up at the weight over your left shoulder. Imagine you’re drawing a diagonal line across your body, from lower right to upper left.

Try not to let your arms do the lifting – use your abs and obliques for power.

5: As your bring the weight back down for the next repetition concentrate on looking straight ahead in a nice controlled squat, bringing the weight back to your lower leg.

Repeat 10-12 times then switch sides. Aim for 3 sets.

Try to go as up tempo as possible without losing control of your technique. You’ll feel your abs and obliques working overtime to raise and control the weight. Your thighs will also get a blast as will your upper body muscles from constantly squatting then snapping up the weight.

Anyone from tennis, golf, cricket and baseball players to swimmers will enjoy huge benefits from this exercise. However anyone playing sports will reap huge rewards from wood choppers.

The benefits of this exercise extend way beyond sports and into daily life. You’ll notice basic functional movements such as bending down or lifting something overhead will be smooth and strong.

Daily actions – reaching down for a heavy towel in the laundry basket, putting some shopping into upper cupboards, tinkering in the garden or playing with kids.

Of course people who actually chop wood for a living (or hobby) will really appreciate this exercise, although chopping real wood all day is probably enough.

Practice the exercise motions first without a weight and when it feels smooth, time for action.


One comment

  1. You won’t believe how pertinent this blog.
    Earlier this week I attended my upper body gym session, with a different instructor/exercise physiologist AND she introduced us to the “Woodchopper”. It is fabulous & as you say, works so many different parts of the body… AND good for young & not so young.

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