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Exercises / Wood Choppers
(complexes / good starter program for olympic lifting)
Exercises / Wood Choppers
Many people like to go to the weight room and start performing the standard isolation exercises either using a machine weight system or even free weights. Afterwards, they do a 20-30 minute cycle of cardio vascular exercise. Then, after a normal day of picking up groceries in/out of the car and into the house and some moderate yard work, they find themselves injured. Usually, this injury involves the lower back.
I have found after a few decades of training that the body really performs best when it is accustomed to movements not joint isolation exercises. There are training programs out there that focus on Core Development yet really perform standard isolation exercises like crunches or sit-ups and some back extensions.
Now, do not get me wrong, isolation exercises have their place as they are safe, effective ways to train muscles that need rehabilitating. They are also a great way to build a foundation of training that should inevitably lead to tougher movement exercises.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, check out how you can turn a bicep curl, military press, triceps extension into one steady movement involving several joints and balance if you try in standing on one leg. I call this one Multi-Joint Dumbbell #1 or MJDB#1:
Now add in a squat to the exercise and a real life movement of picking up something off the floor and lifting it over your head is developing into MJDB#2:
Even more challenging is the MJDB#3 where you add in a squat thrust and some pushups:
*NOTE - if you prefer to go heavier - skip the tricep extension as it can limit the amount of weight you can do.*
It may take some time to build up to MJDB#3, but as you can see all it took was some imagination and you turned a tired old set of dumbbells into a harder exercise full body movement program. As you progress with your program, add Olympic weight lifting, yoga, and any martial arts movements and you will see a difference in your entire body. Remember fitness is a journey - not a destination so visit a variety of programs.
(Full Body Lifts Using DB or KBs)
Wood Chopper Squat with Dumbbell - Hold the dumbbell with both hands over your head in the standing position. Drop to a squat position and at the same time swing your arms down like you were using an ax. Keep your back straight, head up. Use your legs to get the dumbbell over your head by returning to the standing position forcefully.
Wood Chopper Lunges with Dumbbell - Hold dumbbell or medicine ball with both hands and step forward to a down lunge position. Swing dumbbell to the outside of the leg the stepped forward as if you were chopping wood with an ax.
Additional Core Workouts – As the wood choppers will work the core as well as your legs, one of the best CORE training devices I have ever used is the TRX. If that does not interest you, I would consider working the lower back and upper back with standard calisthenics exercise. See Lower Back Plan - FREE – it works well to build a foundation on which to add more dynamic exercises like the above woodchopper squats and lunges and some of the Olympic lifts. You want to build the core of the body both horizontally and vertically – meaning it is fine to do leg lifts and situps for abs, but you also want to develop the torso through lifting and movement weights like you will be doing with 50-75lb back packs. By working your core (abs, lower back, upper back, chest/shoulders), you will help to build proper posture and alignment that will better carry you when running / patrolling with weight.
Other related programs I recommend that teach movements compared to isolation exercises:
TRX - Suspension Training
Stew Smith CSCS - If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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