Standing Cable Woodchopper Exercise Guide
Standing cable woodchopper (woodchop) is a very powerful rotational exercise that 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. This exercise increases strength and explosive power through the core, lower body, and hips. This exercise will also help prepare your body for more demanding squats and lunges. Woodchopper involves the coordinated movement of both the upper body and the lower body.
The name of this exercise (“woodchopper”) simply refers to a motion by which you propel your body in a movement that mimics that of a lumberjack swinging an axe. Woodchoppers can be done using lateral (not recommended) or vertical movement. You can perform this great core exercise while standing, seated, or kneeling to add variety. It can be done using a cable, elastic toner, medicine ball, small stability ball, or dumbbell for resistance.
Exercise Instructions – Proper Technique
(A) High Woodchopper (Woodchopper High to Low)
STARTING POSITION: Attach a rope handle to the high cable and set the desired weight on the stack. Grab the rope with a hand-over-hand grip (double handed grip). Stand sideways to the pulley, about 3 feet from the weight stack. Hold the rope over your inside shoulder, as if it were an ax you were about to swing. Keep both of your hands above your shoulders. Adopt a comfortable stance with your feet wide apart. Your non-dominant leg is forward and your stronger leg is back.
MOVEMENT: Bend and twist at the waist, pulling the handle down and across your body (torso) towards your outside hip. You can also bring your hands down so they end up on the far side of your outside calf. Pause at the bottom, then slowly straighten back to the starting position. Finish the reps on that side, then repeat with your opposite side toward the weight stack. Remember to keep your arms straight and abs engaged and your lower body stabilized. The key is for your shoulders to twist while your abdomen and hips turn as a unit. Also, let your feet pivot slightly with the movement, to protect your knees.
(B) Reverse Woodchopper – Low to High
STARTING POSITION: Stand sideways to a low pulley and grasp the rope handle with both hands (using hand-over-hand grip). Your arms should be extended toward the ground and to the same side as the pulley. You should be bent over and twisted to the side of the pulley. Your feet are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
MOVEMENT: Straighten your knees and hips as you pull the rope up and diagonally across your body until it’s over your head on the far side of the weight stack. Pivot your feet slightly in the direction of the pull. You should finish the movement with your knees extended and your torso straight and upright. Your arms should be extended upward to the opposite side from where you started. Using controlled movement, return to the starting position. Finish the reps on that side, then repeat with your opposite side toward the weight stack.
Muscles Involved in Standing Cable Woodchopper
The woodchopper exercise is very effective because it works most of your anterior (front side) muscles.
Primary muscles: Latissimus dorsi, external oblique, internal oblique, deltoid, teres major
Secondary muscles: Quadriceps, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, trapezius, rhomboid, triceps, serratus anterior, biceps
Due to the motion involved some people may find this core exercise hard on their lower backs. When performing it, make sure you keep your abs tight at all times to support your lower back. If back issues persist, we suggest you skip this exercise all together.
- Medicine Ball Woodchopper
- Dumbbell Woodchopper
- Kneeling Cable Woodchop
- Horizontal Woodchop
The standing cable woodchopper provides a dynamic full range of motion that engages several critical muscle groups while also promoting overall body coordination. Done properly and as part of a high-intensity workout, the exercise will also boost heart rate during its execution.