Exercise of the Week: Kneeling Chop

Abdominal stability is your ability to control movement with rhythm and coordination while maintaining your center of gravity and posture. The chop movement provides one of the foundations to core stability and works all the muscles in your abs, hip, back and shoulders. Do not think about what muscles you are working with because they all are. Focus on movement, not muscles.


Movement description: Use a rubber tubing for this exercise. Attach the middle of the tubing to the hook of a cable column machine. Set the height of the hook of the machine to the highest setting. Grab each handle of the tubing with each hand, and kneeling on both knees with the left side of your body facing the hook. Curl your toes on the ground and tighten your buttocks slightly to maintain a tall posture.

Pull the tubing down and across your body toward your right hip without turning your torso. Hold the end point of the movement for one second and slowly reverse the movement. Perform  2 to 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps on each side of your body.

Misconceptions: Most people think that core stability or core training is about doing traditional abdominal exercises, like sit-ups, crunches, and bicycle kicks. However, core training is about keeping your body in alignment and balance while you move in different directions. It is also about distributing force throughout your body, such as using your legs and hip to lift a heavy object off the ground and transferring that force into your upper body. The kneeling chop is one of the foundations to developing core stability.

Variations: You can perform this exercise by kneeling on one knee and bring one leg in front of you like a lunge. If your left side of your body is facing toward the hook, kneel on your right knee and bring your left leg in front of you at about 90 degrees. Keep your left foot close to the center of your body. This kneeling position can better determine if one side of your core is stronger than the other side.

Once you are proficient with the kneeling positions, progress to a standing position with your legs about shoulder-width apart or a scissors stance where you place one leg in front of the other.

Tip: If one side of your body is weaker or less coordinated than the other side, perform two extra sets on the weaker side in each training session until both sides feel relatively equal.

You may also use a resistance band or just the cable machine itself for this exercise if you do not have a rubber tubing. Keep in mind that the resistance of the band or tubing changes based on the length and tension of the equipment. The cable machine, with its pulley and weight system, provide a constant resistance. Try both methods to vary your workout.

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