Fit for Life…Everyday Exercise 9 of 10

WOOD CHOPS! This is the ninth of ten exercises in the functional fitness series. This exercise mainly targets the abdominal core (front, side, back) but it also requires shoulders and hips to engage and stabilize the body during the rotational movement phase. The wood chop can be performed with a dumbbell, medicine ball, cable pulley, or resistance band. This exercise has many progressions and variations and is suitable for most every fitness level.

HOW TO: Perform this exercise without a weight in your hand; practice moving through the entire range of motion un-weighted.

High to Low Wood Chop

  • Start with you feet wider than shoulder width apart, toes point slightly outward.
  • Clasp both hands together (or hold weight) elbows extended (but not locked), above and to the right side of head/body.
  • Rotate arms and torso downward towards left side of body.
    • Towards hip if standing
    • Towards knee if squatting
  • Return to start
  • Perform 8 to 12 repetitions
  • Switch sides; repeat exercise
modmedballwoodchop

Wood Chop standing

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Wood Chop squatting


Low to High Wood Chop

  • Start with you feet wider than shoulder width apart, toes point slightly outward.
  • Clasp both hands together (or hold weight) elbows extended (but not locked), to the right side of body.
    • Towards hip if standing
    • Towards knee if squatting
  • Rotate arms and torso upward towards left side of body.
  • Return to start
  • Perform 8 to 12 repetitions
  • Switch sides; repeat exercise
low to high woodchop

Low to High Wood Chop

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember: Use no weight or something which weighs less than or equal to 5 lbs. when you first begin practicing this exercise. Because of the rotational aspect of the wood chop exercise, perfecting your form first will help prevent muscle strain in your lower/upper back.

Fit for Life…Everyday Exercise 1 of 10

SQUATS! This move is at the top of my list because it accomplishes so much for us by targeting the major (largest) muscles of the lower body together with multiple joints (hips, knees, ankles). The core (abdominals, spine and obliques) is also activated and as such this exercise helps enhance balance.

How To: The basic squat begins by standing tall with your feet hip-width distance apart, shoulders relaxed and head held high. Look straight ahead to keep your neck in line with the rest of your spine. Hold your arms straight out in front of you (this is best if you need extra balance) or place your hands on your hips. When you’re ready, keep your core tight and maintain a neutral spine as you slowly squat down (as if you were about to sit in a chair behind you). Be sure to keep your heels firmly planted on the ground and to keep your torso upright. Pause for a beat before slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat for 8 to 12 repetitions.

body-weight-squat

Add 1 or 2 repetitions to your daily squat routine; when you can complete 3 sets of  squats (12 repetitions each set), then you are ready to add some variation to your routine. I’ll list a few options below.

  • Prisoner Squat (with hands held behind head)
  • Plié squat
  • Curtsy squat
  • Squat jump
  • Squat jack
  • Squat with side kick
  • Split squat (also known as a lunge)

If you would like explanations or pictures for the squat variations, just attach your comments or questions to this post. Functional fitness exercise number 2 of 10 will be posted soon…in the meantime, keeping squatting!