Step 1

The wood chop is a functional, yet advanced movement that needs to be learned in three stages. Stage 1: Spiral rotation of the arms Stage 2: Spiral rotation of the arms with hip rotation and flexion (bending) Stage 3: Full wood chop with spiral rotation of the arms, hip and torso, and hip flexion (bending).

Step 2

Stand in a split-stance position with your left foot forward. Hold a medicine in both hands, keeping the ball relatively close to the your body. Contract your abdominal / core muscles to stiffen your torso, holding it vertical to the floor. Depress and retract your scapulae (pull your shoulder down and back) without arching your low back

Step 3

Stage One Starting Position (illustrated): Slowly rotate your arms with the medicine ball to the left, to a starting position high and behind you, but do not rotate your head, chest or torso. Your head, chest and hips should remain facing forward at all times throughout this exercise stage. Keep the medicine ball relatively close to your body.

Step 4

Movement: Slowly, rotate your arms down and across your body to the right, to an end point where the medicine ball is positioned near your right hip (performing a wood chop movement). Do not rotate your head, chest, torso or hips, and keep them facing forward. Keep the medicine ball relatively close to your body. Hold this end position briefly before returning to your starting position. Repeat the movement in the opposite direction with your opposite leg forward.

Step 5

Exercise Progression: Repeat the same movement, but extend your arms at the elbow and maintain this arm position throughout the wood chop movements. This longer lever increases the loading on the spine, requiring the core muscles to work harder

Step 6

Stage Two Starting Position (not illustrated): Change your foot position to a stagger-stance by widening your base of support (moving feet wider apart). Assume the same starting position with your bent arms, but allow your hips to rotate to the left with your arms, increasing your degree of rotation. Your head, chest and torso should remain aligned over your hips. Much of your body weight should be loaded into your left leg.

Step 7

Movement: Slowly, rotate your arms down and across your body to the right, while squatting down slightly to an end point where the medicine ball is positioned lower than your your right hip (performing a wood chop movement), and much of your weight has shifted over into the right leg. Rotate your hips, but keep your head, chest and torso aligned over your hips. Keep the medicine ball relatively close to your body. Hold this end position briefly before returning to your starting position. Repeat the movement in the opposite direction with your opposite leg forward.

Step 8

Exercise Progression: Repeat the same movement, but extend your arms at the elbow and maintain this arm position throughout the wood chop movements. This longer lever increases the loading on the spine, requiring the core muscles to work harder

Step 9

Stage Three Starting Position (illustrated): Assume the same starting position as in stage two, but fully extend your elbows and allow your torso to rotate further than your hips, increasing your degree of rotation around. Shift more weight into your left foot and allow your right foot to pivot on the floor.

Step 10

Movement: Slowly, rotate your arms down and across your body to the right, while squatting down slightly to an end point where the medicine ball is positioned below your right hip (performing a wood chop movement), and much of your weight has shifted into the right leg. Your torso will rotate further and faster than your hips. Keep your elbows fully extended throughout the movement. Hold this end position briefly before returning to your starting position. Repeat the movement in the opposite direction with your opposite leg forward.

Engage your abdominal / core muscles throughout this exercise to stabilize and protect your spine.

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