Axe Chop or Medicine Ball Wood Chop


Axe Chop (Medicine Ball Wood Chop) Exercise Guide

The axe chop (medicine ball wood chop) is another great standing core exercise that requires the entire body to participate. It is extremely dynamic. You can really challenge your core by chopping hard and stopping the force in an instant by tightening your core. Axe chops can be performed with medicine balls, dumbbells, tubing, or a pulley cable system. Axe chops are a tough exercise and should be performed slowly at first until the move is perfected.

The axe chop is called just that because it’s similar to the move you use when you’re chopping wood. It is the king of all core with weight strengthening exercises because it works your back, butt, abs, and chest all at the same time.

Furthermore, this is an excellent functional core exercise that trains the body for a variety of daily activities, such as lifting groceries out of your trunk or lifting your child out of his car seat.

Exercise Instructions

Stand upright with your legs about twice as wide as shoulder width. Extend your arms overhead (above your left/right shoulder) while grabbing the medicine ball. Keep your arms locked and extended.

Axe Chop - Core Strengthening Exercises

Axe Chop – Core Strengthening Exercises

Rotate from shoulder to opposite knee, going across the body as if you are chopping wood. Keep your body tight, and bend over at the waist to perform this move. Imagine you’re chopping some wood at this angle and the ball is your axe — the move is a bit percussive. Reverse the direction, returning to the starting position. Complete the desired number of reps, then repeat on the other side.

Axe Chop (Medicine Ball Wood Chop) Key Points

  • Bring the medicine ball diagonally across your body toward the opposite foot. Imagine that you’re swinging an axe. The ball moves in an arc across your body.
  • Keep your arms as straight as possible (fully extended).
  • Make one fluid movement.
  • Look for the ball to remain equidistant from your torso throughout the movement.
  • This is a very strenuous exercise that can harm the lower back is performed incorrectly. Make sure that you maintain your abs contraction, use a medicine ball appropriate for your skill level, and allow your hips to move with rotation.

Muscles Engaged

This exercise is very effective because it works most of your anterior (front side) muscles.

Axe chop works all of the abdominal muscles; you should feel the effects all the way across your midsection.

Primary muscles: Latissimus dorsi, external oblique, internal oblique, rectus abdominis, deltoid, teres major
Secondary muscles: Quadriceps, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, trapezius, rhomboid, triceps, serratus anterior, biceps

Replacement Exercises

Try these other core exercises.


This very powerful rotational exercise develops the muscles of your trunk, making it ideal for training in sports that involve a twisting motion, such as throwing or hitting a ball with a bat or racket. Be sure to warm up thoroughly before starting the axe chop. The exercise places strong rotational forces on your lower back, and worming up helps to prevent torsion injuries.

The medicine ball wood chop rapidly builds power, especially when done at high speed, so be sure to work both sides equally to prevent potentially dangerous imbalances in development.

Remember the medicine ball wood chop or any core/abdominal exercise will not burn fat off your mid section or give you six pack abs. You must perform a mixture of high intensity cardio and weight training.


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