The cable woodchop is a compound pulling motion and a functional exercise. While it primarily targets the abdominals and obliques, it also employs the shoulders, back, and glutes. You can do woodchops with a medicine ball or dumbbell, but the cable will give a constant tension that is preferable. It can be part of a core-strengthening workout or a total body workout.

In addition to sports that use a stick or racket (baseball, golf, tennis, hockey, cricket, etc.), twisting the abdominals under load is a prominent movement in sports including football and basketball.

How to set up:

  1. Attach a handle to one end of a cable machine. Position the cable anchor near the top of the frame using the adjustable mechanism. Load the machine with sufficient weight to provide moderate resistance. If you struggle to move the handle or if you can only move it slowly, the weight is too heavy. You should also be able to keep your balance as you rotate the weight. If you stumble or waver, the weight is too heavy.
  2.  Position your body so that the cable movement will be downward and across the body—like a tree-chopping action. Position the feet comfortably apart and grasp the cable handle with both hands above one shoulder.
  3. Swing the clasped handle downward and across the body until it passes the opposite thigh. Your hips and knees can rotate slightly, and you can also pivot from your ankle.
  4. At the end position, allow the cable weight to retract the handle to the starting position.
  5. Do 10 to 15 repetitions then reverse your stance by facing the other way and repeat the exercise on the other side of the body.

Things to avoid:

  • Don’t lock the knees and hips. Allow the hips and knees to rotate slightly.
  • Do not bend your arms while performing this exercise or your shoulders and arms will do the work rather than your abdominals. Be sure that you are rotating your torso and your arms are staying in front of your body rather than it being the arms that are producing the motion.