Functional Exercises Continued: Traverse Plane – Wood Chops

June 24, 2016 — 2 Comments

Tell Me This Guys Isn’t Intense and Utilizing a Magnitude of Muscles to Accomplish a Single Task!  (Photo Courtesy of

I wanted to cover one more exercise regarding functional movements and the three planes of human movement.  The transverse plane which dissects the body through your waist and separates your head from your toes probably doesn’t get the attention it deserves relative to how much it’s used in the field.  Most movements that work in this plane have a twisting effort involved thus working your core muscles in a rotational fashion.  A great (actually two great equal and opposite) exercise to utilize are wood chops and reverse wood chops.  Both of these involve basically the same movement but in opposite directions. 

Wood Chops


The Exercise Begins in an Overhead Position Just to the Side of the Body, then crosses the body, and finishes on the Opposite Side at Approx Knee Level (Photo Courtesy of

First we’ll look at regular wood chops.  As you can probably guess it gets its name from mimicking the motions of chopping down a tree.  This actually may be something you might do on a backwoods drop camp but regardless it’s an exercise to strengthen primarily your core but does benefit some other muscles as well.   The basic movement takes a weight from an overhead position on either side of your body, comes downward across your body, and finishes on the opposite side around knee level.

The primary muscles worked are your rectus abdominus (your six pack) and obliques (the sides of your trunk).  There are benefits to your shoulders, chest, quads, and hips as well.  All of these muscles are very important to the balance, strength, and health of hunter athletes as I have previously emphasized.  For all practical purposes you’ll need to have a cable machine to complete this exercise so that you maintain a constant force and eliminate gravitational assistance.



Reverse Wood Chops Begin with the Weight on Either Side of Your Knee (A), Comes Across the Body, and Finishing Overhead to the Opposite Side (B) (Photo Courtesy of

Reverse Wood Chops

As you can imagine, use the same motion as wood chops but rather than start high and finish low you start low and finish high.  Reverse wood chops are taking a weight from either side of your body at about knee level , across your body, and finishing overhead on the opposite side.  This is a motion similar to slinging on a heavy pack so you can see the clear benefit for a backpack hunter.

The primary muscles worked are going to be your lower back but you will again be gaining some benefit in your glutes, hips, quads, and shoulders.  A cable machine can also be used for this technique but a medicine ball, sandbag, or dumbbell can just as easily be utilized.

Is This How Put On Your Pack due to weight? Then You Need to Do Wood Chops to Help Prevent Injury (Photo Courtesy of

Both movements need to be utilized as to not create an imbalance of strength and muscle front to back.  Also, don’t sacrifice form in lieu of a heavier weight.  As always if you’re not familiar with this exercise please seek assistance from a professional.  These two exercises are another example of working multiple muscles groups simultaneous which results in real life situations that your body will be put in and expected to perform while in the field.

2 responses to Functional Exercises Continued: Traverse Plane – Wood Chops


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