Abdominal exercises, such as crunches and situps, require you to get down on the floor. If you do these exercises with poor form, you risk injuring your neck or back. Additionally, the hard floor against your back is often uncomfortable. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do crunches and situps, because they can effectively work your abdominals. However, you can also incorporate exercises, such as the wood chop, which emphasizes mainly your obliques at the sided of your waist and doesn’t require you to get down on the floor. The exercise is done standing upright and can be done almost anywhere.
Stand upright, spread your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the ends of one dumbbell with both hands.
Draw your navel to your spine to activate your abdominals and to stabilize your back. Pull your shoulders back and down, extend your arms down and position the dumbbell horizontally at the side of your right hip.
Raise the dumbbell across your body, slowly moving it all the way up until it’s above your left shoulder. Keep the weight close to your body during the upward motion. Combat the urge to rotate your torso, head or chest; only your arms move. Exaggerate the motion so you feel a really good stretch in your midsection.
Reverse the motion, slowly lowering the dumbbell across your body toward the side of your right hip. The motion you make should mimic that of chopping wood. Avoid rapidly dropping the weight; move slowly and contract your abs to stabilize your body during the motion.
Repeat the chopping motion eight to 12 times, and then switch sides to finish one set. Try to finish two to three sets.
Perform the wood chop exercise in front of a mirror so you can monitor your form.
Do the wood chop with minimal weight to learn proper form. Once you master proper form, slowly increase the weight.
Instead of a dumbbell, use a medicine ball or kettle bell, or do the exercise using the resistance of a high pulley cable.
For an lower body boost, lower into a squat as you move the dumbbell down, and come out of the squat as you raise the dumbbell up.