Lumberjack exercise: How-to, features, proper form and technique

In fitness, the lumberjack exercise is one of the most functional and effective movements for the oblique muscles of the abdomen. It is performed in a crossover but is rarely used in gyms. Mainly due to the fact that the crossover itself is perceived as a simulator for the shoulders, chest, and arms, and also because the coaches are much more active in driving everyone into the Roman chair.

Nevertheless, the inclusion of a lumberjack in his program will be useful not only for the press but also for other muscle groups. In this article, we will consider all the technical features and subtleties of the exercise, as well as several types of Lumberjack that can be done even at home.

Advantages and features of the wood chop exercise

The name of the exercise clearly demonstrates which movement served as the basis and why it was called the “lumberjack”. This exercise almost completely imitates cutting a tree with an ax, which loads exactly the oblique muscles of the abdomen. Partially, the load falls on other muscles, but the main focus is aimed specifically at the press. If you evaluate the performance of the exercise only in a gym, then the most suitable choice is a crossover. In the simulator, you can vary the swing angle using the upper and lower blocks. If you decide to make a lumberjack on the sports ground or at home, then the following options are suitable:

  • rubber;
  • kettlebells
  • ball
  • hammer (the exercise is performed as vertical hits on the tire, but with a horizontal scale, to hit hard objects is strictly prohibited due to injury risk);
  • any other convenient item: weight plates from the bar, a bottle of water, etc.

The most effective lumberjack will be when reverse tension is carried out during abduction of the hands. In the hall, this can provide a crossover in which each movement will be with inverse resistance. In a home or gym, only a rubber band will help. When choosing, it is important to choose the right stiffness so that the exercise is not very light or prohibitively heavy. The option with a kettlebell is also good for home or gym, but the downside is the lack of reverse resistance. Sometimes even dumbbells are used for a lumberjack, but this option is definitely not the best. The only exceptions are cases when other shells are not available.

Remember, when working with weights, in no case should you hold the projectile by the handle. Both hands should tightly squeeze the weight of the kettle, controlling its position.

If we consider what muscle groups the load falls on when performing a lumberjack, then it is worth highlighting the following areas:

  • oblique muscles of the abdomen (main load);
  • upper outer and inner thighs;
  • glutes;
  • back and shoulders.

In terms of functionality, the exercise can easily compete with the most massive movements that involve a large number of muscle fibers (burpees, jumping jacks, explosive jumps from squats, etc.). Also, the lumberjack is well used for cardio training, performing the exercise in a multi-repetitive style with minimal weight.

Technique and variations of cable woodchopper

It is important to understand that this movement is from the category of so-called “technical” exercises, in which, without observing the correct technique, its benefit will tend to a minimum. The technique is always a key factor, but if in some exercises the admission of cheating and non-observance of the basic rules is excusable, then in a lumberjack it is not. Therefore, before starting to progress and especially adding weight to the simulator, it is important to learn how to make the woodcutter exercise correctly. Initially, we will consider the most popular embodiment on the block, which is available in almost every gym:

  • Grasp the handle with both hands (as if squeezing the handle of an ax), then step back a step so that the cable is constantly tensioned. The legs are apart slightly wider than the shoulders, the back is even.
  • Take straight arms in the opposite direction along the arc, keeping your back straight. Try to get your hands to the side as far as possible, pulling the cable as much as possible.
  • Take a short break at the peak, then return your hands to the starting position at a slow pace. It is advisable that the tension be maintained even when the arms are pulled back, this will increase the effectiveness of the exercise.

We will move on to the most important and key point of the exercise – the correct stance. There are two options for implementation, which differ in level of complexity. A simple option is when you stand sideways to the block and simply pull the handle (on straight arms, slightly bent at the elbows), moving your hands from one side to the other. This is a good option for beginners, which allows you to prepare the muscles for the next load. You can also alternate the execution of the lumberjack, changing the angle. The following techniques are suitable for this:

  • Pull the upper block in a sitting position on one knee, in which case the hands will move in a diagonal arc from top to bottom.
  • Use the lower block of the simulator, performing the same movement.
  • Use a wire rope instead of a D-shaped handle.

It is important to remember that in all variations the lower body remains motionless.

A complicated version of the cable woodchop

This embodiment is more suitable for advanced athletes because it is characterized by increased complexity and technique. Initially, you need to stand with your back to the block, turning 20-30 degrees in the direction of the cable. One leg is set forward, the other is laid back for support. Socks should be directed to the sides. You should choose the correct testabol dosage if decided to use it regularly. The back leg always remains motionless and serves as a support. The front leg rotates to the side in order to maximize your hands to the side and back. To do this, simply rest your front foot on your socks and turn your foot in the same direction where the movement of the hands is directed. 


Remember that woodcutting is always slow; jerking is undesirable in this exercise. Moreover, the tension phase should be faster than the return of the handle to the block. This will help to feel the maximum tension. At the peak point, you can pause for 1 or even 2 seconds, this will only increase the efficiency of movement. In the machines where you can adjust the height of the crossover unit, optimally set it at the top of the abdomen or chest. In this position, the obliques will work best.

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