The cable wood chop is an exercise that uses a cable machine to simulate a wood chopping action. This exercise helps to tone and strengthen the abs and oblique muscles.
The cable chopper exercises will challenge your entire core. A strong core helps you lift more weight during your workout and also helps you function better in everyday life.
This guide will cover the benefits of the cable wood chop, proper form and technique, and variations to include in your workouts.
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- What Is Cable Wood Chop
- Muscles Worked During Cable Wood Chop
- How To Do Cable Wood Chop
- Tips and Proper Form
- Cable Chop Variations
- Reverse Cable Wood Chop (Low to High Wood chop)
- Horizontal Cable Wood Chop
- Half Kneeling Cable Chop
- How To Do Kneeling Cable Wood Chop
- Cable Chop Alternatives
- 1. Dumbbell Side Bend
- 2. Pallof Press
- 3. Oblique Crunches
- Are Cable Wood Choppers Effective?
- What muscles does a wood chop exercise work?
- What is a cable wood chop?
What Is Cable Wood Chop
The cable wood chop is also known as the cable up-down twist.
This is great for strengthening the twisting movement pattern of your torso, as well as improving your torso’s ability to resist twisting forces. Furthermore, your arms and legs provide stability and mobility.
You can do wood chops with a medicine ball or dumbbell, but the cable will give a constant tension that is preferable. It can be a part of a core-strengthening workout or a total body workout.
A recent study has found that assessing the maximal power and endurance of core muscles during the standing cable wood chop exercise is a reliable and sensitive method for evaluating physical fitness in active individuals.
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Muscles Worked During Cable Wood Chop
- The primary muscles worked during it are the abs, obliques, and back including the erector spine
- Secondary muscles worked: serratus anterior, shoulder, legs, calf as well as the gluteus maximus and hip flexors.
How To Do Cable Wood Chop
- Attach a handle to the top of the cable pulley.
- Grasp the handle with both hands, with either your fingers interlaced or with one hand over the other.
- Stand next to the machine with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your arms straight, pull the handle in a diagonally downward motion until your torso faces away from the pulley and your hands are knee height.
- Hold for a count of two.
- Then slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
- Start with 8 to 10 repetitions on each side and gradually increase the number as you get stronger
- Repeat the exercise on your opposite side.
Tips and Proper Form
- Don’t lock the knees and hips. Allow the hips and knees to rotate slightly.
- Your hips should remain stable; the rotation should come from your torso.
- Stop and hold the handle for a few seconds halfway through some reps, thus forcing your body to resist the twisting force.
- Begin with a lighter weight to master the form before increasing the resistance.
- Keep your arms straight, and shoulders locked in place.
- Perform an equal number of sets on each side to maintain muscular balance.
Cable Chop Variations
Below are the best cable wood chop variations to increase core stability, muscle hypertrophy, and midline control.
Reverse Cable Wood Chop (Low to High Wood chop)
The standing upward cable wood chop is a variation of the woodchopper used to target the muscles of the abdominal complex, but primarily it works the obliques.
Use the reverse cable wood chop to strengthen and stabilize your core, and to strengthen the rotational movement pattern of your torso.
How To Do Reverse Cable Wood chop
- Attach a handle to the lowest of the cable pulley.
- Grasp the handle with both hands, either with your fingers interlaced or with one hand over the other.
- Keeping your arms straight, pull the handle in a diagonally upward motion.
- Hold for a count of two. Then slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
- Repeat the exercise on your opposite side.
Horizontal Cable Wood Chop
The Horizontal Cable Wood Chop (aka Cable Twist) is an isolation exercise that works the oblique muscles of the core.
It’s unique in that it not only helps to strengthen the core muscles, but it’s a functional exercise because it is performed on the feet.
Use the cable twist to strengthen the twisting movement pattern of your body. It’s a great idea to stop halfway through some reps, hold the stirrup, and try to resist the twisting force.
How To Do Horizontal Cable Wood Chop
- Attach a handle to a shoulder-height cable pulley.
- You can grab the handle with both hands, or with one hand over the other.
- Pull the handle in a twisting motion across your body to your opposite side until your torso faces away from the pulley.
- Hold for a count of two. Afterward, slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
- Do the required number of repetitions.
- Repeat the exercise on your opposite side.
Half Kneeling Cable Chop
The kneeling cable wood chop is a beginner-friendly variation of wood chop.
It is a total-body movement that uses many muscles in your body and gives you the opportunity to lift a little heavier and spike your heart rate.
This exercise is extremely versatile and can also be performed in a tall kneeling stance, a square standing stance, and a split standing stance.
How To Do Kneeling Cable Wood Chop
- Attach a rope handle to the high pulley of a cable station.
- Kneel on the floor with knees hip-distance apart, holding the rope with both hands, arms extended.
- Rotate the torso to the left, bringing weight to the outside of the left thigh, keeping arms extended.
- Slowly, return to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Cable Chop Alternatives
The best alternative to the cable wood chop exercise in one’s training routine is a similar oblique isolation exercise that makes allowances for the needs of the exerciser and their training routine.
Below are the best cable chop alternatives that can be used to improve core stability and strength.
1. Dumbbell Side Bend
Dumbbell side bends are isolation exercises that target muscle groups on the side of your body—specifically the oblique muscles.
The bend is effective at targeting the obliques, strengthening the lateral flexion of your spine, improving spinal mobility, and helping to develop a strong and stable core.
It is an easy core exercise to practice at home.
2. Pallof Press
The Pallof Press is a full-body exercise that can increase overall stability and activate many large muscle groups in the body.
The Pallof press is an anti-rotation hold exercise that will work wonders in helping you develop a stable core.
It is a valuable movement prep and core strengthening exercise for nearly every lifter.
3. Oblique Crunches
The oblique crunch is one of the bodyweight exercises that target your oblique and abs muscles.
It is a core exercise that strengthens your obliques as well as the other muscles of the core, including your transverse abdominus and medial glute.
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Are Cable Wood Choppers Effective?
Yes, the cable wood chop is a great functional core exercise. Many training programs use the wood chop exercise to strengthen the side-flexion of the torso and improve overall abs appearance.
What muscles does a wood chop exercise work?
The primary muscles worked during cable wood chops are the obliques, abs, and back, including the erector spinae and the transverse abdominus.
What is a cable wood chop?
The cable wood chop is an exercise that trains the core muscles. It uses a cable machine to simulate a wood-chopping motion.
It helps to build strength and power in the core and obliques. This exercise also enhances hip and shoulder stability and strength.
The Cable wood chop is an excellent core exercise to add to your training program. Try this functional exercise and reap the benefits of all your daily activities.
- Gottschall JS, Mills J, Hastings B. Integration core exercises elicit greater muscle activation than isolation exercises. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Mar;27(3):590-6. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825c2cc7. PMID: 22580983.
- Zemková E, Cepková A, Uvaček M, Šooš L. A Novel Method for Assessing Muscle Power During the Standing Cable Wood Chop Exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 2017 Aug;31(8):2246-2254. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001692. PMID: 27806016.
Manish brings over 10 years of hands-on experience in weight lifting and fat loss to fitness coaching. He specializes in gym-based training and has a lot of knowledge about exercise, lifting technique, biomechanics, and more.
Through “Fit Life Regime,” he generously shares the insights he’s gained over a decade in the field. His goal is to equip others with the knowledge to start their own fitness journey.