The woodchop exercise is a powerful and effective movement that targets and strengthens the core muscles, including the abdominals, obliques, and lower back. Contrary to its name, you don’t need an actual axe to experience its benefits. In the gym, there’s a much safer alternative using a cable machine with an adjustable pulley system. Here’s everything you need to know about this dynamic exercise.
To perform the high-pulley woodchop, follow these steps:
Stand beside a cable machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees.
Grab a handle or rope attached to a high pulley with both hands, interlocking your fingers or gripping the handle firmly.
Position your hands above one shoulder, with arms extended and slightly angled towards the opposite side of your body.
Keeping your core engaged and maintaining a straight back, pull the handle down and across your body in a diagonal chopping motion.
As you pull down, rotate your torso and pivot on your back foot, allowing your hips to follow the movement.
Keep your arms extended but slightly bent throughout the exercise.
Control the movement as you return to the starting position in a smooth and fluid manner.
Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions and then switch sides.
The high-pulley woodchop primarily targets the muscles of the core, including the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles), obliques (side abdominal muscles), and erector spinae (lower back muscles). Additionally, it engages the muscles of the shoulders, chest, and hips as stabilizers.
Benefits of the Exercise
Core Strength: The woodchop exercise helps strengthen the entire core region, including the abdominals, obliques, and lower back. It improves stability and enhances overall functional strength.
Rotational Power: This exercise involves rotational movement, which is beneficial for sports and activities that require power and explosiveness in twisting motions, such as golf, tennis, and throwing sports.
Balance and Coordination: The woodchop exercise requires coordination between the upper and lower body, promoting better balance and proprioception.
Full-Body Engagement: While the core muscles are the primary focus, the exercise also engages the shoulders, chest, and hips, making it a compound movement that works multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
Functional Movement: The chopping motion mimics real-life movements, such as chopping wood or swinging a hammer, making it a functional exercise that translates well to daily activities.
Variations and Modifications
The woodchop exercise can be performed in a standing position or kneeling on one knee. Kneeling reduces the stability and adds an additional challenge to the exercise. If a cable machine is not available, you can use resistance bands anchored to a sturdy object to replicate the movement.
Remember to prioritize proper form and technique during the woodchop exercise. If you have any concerns regarding your lower back, start with this spine-friendly variation before progressing to the dynamic version demonstrated above.