IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trying to tone up? This 1 move hits every body part

You'll burn more calories all day after doing this exercise.
MASTER THE MOVE: WOOD CHOPPER
TODAY Illustration / Stephanie Mansour

Most of my clients come to me with the goal of losing weight. While everyone’s weight-loss journey looks different, there are a few exercises that I incorporate often into many of my client's routines. The wood chopper with knee lift is one of those full-body moves that really gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

What makes it such a great exercise for weight loss and toning is that it is both a cardio and strength-training move. By combining these two forms of exercise, you’ll maximize your calorie burn not only during the workout itself, but by building muscle that will burn more calories at rest.

What does the wood chopper with knee lift do for the body?

The wood chopper with knee lift is a fat-burning move that can help you lose weight and tone the entire body. By adding a dumbbell and knee lift to the traditional wood chopper, you’re increasing the intensity of the move, building upper body strength and working the core.

When performing the exercise in a set, the large, full-body movement will also increase your heart rate, burning even more calories. Plus, the exercise works the lower body and builds leg strength.

The common mistakes people make when doing the wood chopper with knee lift

There are some mistakes I see people make when performing this exercise. You want to be careful that you aren't swinging the weight or putting any stress on the back during the move. I also find that some of my clients get confused over which way to bend their torso when lifting up their knee. Since there are a few moving parts, it’s important to practice slowly at first until you get the form down.

In order to avoid common mistakes, keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep your torso long and core engaged during the entire movement.
  • When lifting your right knee, bring the dumbbell all the way to the outside of the right hip.
  • Never use momentum to move the weight; use your arm strength to lift and lower the dumbbell in a controlled motion.
  • Make sure to bend and lift your knee at the same time that you bring your arms down toward it.
  • Avoid straining the body with a weight that's too heavy. Start with a weight you're comfortable with and work your way up from there.

How to do a modified wood chopper with knee lift

The wood chopper with knee lift can be difficult, especially while holding onto a dumbbell. The move itself requires attention to detail, so it’s important to master the movement before getting caught up in using a dumbbell.

In order to modify this move, try performing it first without a dumbbell. Stand up straight and keep your hands together. Raise your arms in the air and twist your torso slightly to the left. Bring your hands down toward your right knee as you bend your right leg and bring your knee up into the air. Make sure to bring your hands down past the outside of your right hip before returning to the starting position.

How to perform the wood chopper with knee lift correctly

Once you’ve mastered the technique, try adding a dumbbell to the move.

  1. Stand up straight and hold a dumbbell above your head with both hands.
  2. Twist your torso slightly to the left and move your right foot out a bit so that it is not directly under your hip.
  3. Bring the dumbbell down and across your body from left to right as you bend and lift your right knee into the air.
  4. Bring the weight down to the side of your right hip before putting your foot down and lifting your arms back up into the air.
  5. Repeat 10 times, and then repeat on the opposite side.

4 exercises that will help you perform the wood chopper with knee lift

There a few different components to this move. These other exercises will help you gain the strength and coordination required to perform it correctly.

Single knee to chest (lying down)

Lie down with your arms extended at your sides and your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee and grab your right knee or hamstring with both hands. Pull your right knee into your chest and hold for 30 seconds before switching legs.

Bicycle crunches

Lie down on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your elbows and put your hands behind your head. Bend your right knee and twist your torso until your left elbow touches it. Keep your left leg straight as you do this. Then bring your left leg to meet your right elbow, while straightening the right leg. Continue this motion for 20 reps, 10 to each side.

Tree pose

Stand up straight with your feet together and your hands in prayer position. Bend your right knee out to the side and bring the bottom of your right foot to the inside of your left thigh. Focus on your balance and hold before switching legs.

Mountain pose with raised arms

Stand up straight with your feet together. Breathe in as you lift your arms into the air above your head, keeping them parallel to one another. Look up toward your palms. Pull your shoulders down and back to keep your chest open and focus on your breathing.

More ways to master the move: