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Bells and Axes

With the arrival of Snowpocalypse 2014 part IV: The Revenge...Again!, I found myself ruminating on how chopping wood has improved my conditioning and my overall power.

Like most of us on here, I've fallen in love with kettlebells as well as bodyweight work (with barbells being The Love That Got Away). I alternate in two-week blocks (a la Easy Strength's QIII) between Rite of Passage and Convict Conditioning. I really enjoy it and I've never been wanting for strength, but I often feel like I lean more towards the 'strength' and less the 'conditioning'.

The addition of chopping wood has really remedied that and then some. In just a few months, my conditioning has improved radically, my serratus have started to peek out, and in general I feel a sense of 'improvement'. All of this from just chopping up a single log everyday (which equates to about maybe twenty to fifty swings a day). I try to keep swinging at a brisk pace, but obviously with a mind for safety.

I have to imagine that chopping wood pairs especially well with kettlebell swings. The upward explosive component of the swings would be matched with the downward explosive component of the axe. A match made in heaven.


New member
Yes, they match very well.
Although I don't chop much wood nowadays really, I chopped tons in the past. What I sometimes do is something similar, combining swings with hitting a tire with a sledgehammer. By the way, this is a combo Steve Maxwell himself endorses.


New member
Yes, indeed. I use a splitting maul to stay happy on Variety day. I keep setting the blocks up and swinging down as hard as my abs can pull, and continue at a rate that keeps me breathing steadily. Kind of like the pace I use to snatch the 20kg for 5-10 minutes. (Not great intensity) I split for about an hour with rests every 10 minutes.


New member
Swinging an axe, sledgehammer, kettlebell or other heavy implement will also strengthen your hands and forearms. If you have ever shaken hands with a bricklayer or blacksmith you will realize just how puny (not you personaly-just a general assessment) that your own measure of hand strength is. Even many weight lifters cannot match the hand strength of a blacksmith. That level of hand strength is totally outside the norm of what most people could ever realize...imho...Dennis


Yeah, it's good. Overhead chops while lying on the ground will help balance things out if you can't do any wood chopping. I'm currently in such a situation.

As for the blacksmiths- I forget which John Brookfield manual it was, but one of them was mentioning how there actually are old-time blacksmiths in remote areas of Canada! I guess it's just simpler that way & it IS more self-sufficient & gives activity, too.
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