Dumbbell Exercises: Dumbbell Woodchops

Practicing dumbbell woodchops will help you increase the strength of a number of muscles, particularly those in the abdomen. However, you can potentially strain a muscle if you don’t know how to safely perform the exercise. Likewise, not understanding the mechanics behind the exercise will mean that you won’t be getting the maximum impact.

The Targeted Muscles

You should include dumbbell woodchops into your strength training routine if you want to work on strengthening and toning the obliques in the abdomen, as well as strengthening the muscles in your shoulders, hips and legs.

The Basics of the Exercise

You will need only one dumbbell for this exercise. You can perform the woodchop exercise with virtually any amount of weight, but you should start with no more than a 5- to 10-pound weight if you’re just beginning.

  1. Stand with your legs spread apart slightly greater than the width of your shoulders. Your knees should be bent slightly and your posture should be erect with your shoulders back.
  2. Hold onto your dumbbell by gripping it at both ends with one hand over each end plate. Bring the dumbbell to the side of your hip on one side and keep your arms straight. Keep your legs and pelvis firmly planted and facing forward, but twist your core and shoulder slightly.
  3. Bring the weight up and in front of your body, turning your core as you move. Once the weight is in front of you at chest height, you should continue rotating your core and bringing your hands and the weight higher. At this point, the leg opposite of the direction you’re currently facing should turn slightly and your foot can shift up so that only your toes remain on the ground. You should be shifting your weight to the other leg, which does not move. Your hands and the dumbbell should finish as high as you can reach on the opposite side of the body from where you started, toward the area behind you.
  4. Bring the weight back down across your chest and all the way back down to the side of your hip, where it started. You should be shifting the weight in your legs as you do this, putting all of the weight on your foot which had been raised to its toes and lifting the other leg onto its toes. You no longer need to keep your pelvis straight, but continue to keep your arms straight all times.
  5. Repeat this 8 to 12 times for two to three sets and then repeat the entire process again by starting the dumbbell at the opposite side.

Safety Tips

Make sure that you’ve got a comfortable grip on your weight so that it doesn’t go flying. Don’t move too quickly at first until you’ve gotten used to the exercise. Remember to turn your entire body with you as you bring the weight down and up, so that you don’t strain a muscle.

Adding a Challenge

You can gradually increase the number of reps and sets in your routine and you can increase the weight of your dumbbell in five pound increments after several weeks with one weight. You can also begin the exercise in a half-squat and straighten your knees as you raise the weight up for more impact on the leg muscles.


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