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The Lumberjack Workout

Lumberjacks are world-renowned for their explosive strength and toughness. Working outside, chopping wood day after day will quickly burn fat and pack on pounds of muscle. In fact, chopping wood activates the core, back, arms and shoulders (as well as the legs, if you use proper technique), making it one of the best full body exercises available. Is it any wonder lumberjacks are known for being so strong?

These days most outdoor woodworking activities use mechanical reciprocating saws. As a tribute to the lost art of lumberjacking we have compiled a list of exercises to simulate a day in the life of a logger which will help you build lumberjack strength!

Here are our top picks for lumberjack strength:

• Chopping Wood
• Deadlift
• Farmer Carry
• Bent Over Rows

1. Chopping Wood

To start our lumberjack workout, we turn to an exercise that defines lumberjacking itself: chopping wood (if needed you can also use a sledgehammer and a tire, it will work the same muscle groups). You will need to find a light axe, some wood to chop, and a nice chopping stump. Once you gather your wood you can pile it up and place the pieces one by one onto the stump. This is a great outdoor exercise activity that allows you to take in the fresh air while working your core, arms and shoulders.

• To perform this exercise, start by placing a wood piece on the stump in front of you and holding the axe in your “natural” grip (your non-dominant hand will grip the handle near the bottom, and your dominant hand will be placed a little further up the handle)
• Raise the axe above your head, aim to split the wood right down the middle, then bring the axe down forcefully to chop (make sure you maintain momentum when the axe strikes the wood in order to power through the cut)
• Repeat this until you have finished cutting about half your wood pile – you will surely feel the burn in your back. Switch your grip up to work the other side of your back and perform the exercise until all the wood is chopped

2. Deadlift


The second exercise of the Lumberjack Workout is the deadlift. This is a classic strength exercise that will simulate lifting the heavy logs lumberjacks work with day in and day out. Performing the deadlift regularly will result in huge overall strength gains, but you will feel it especially in your lower back, hamstrings and glutes.

• Load a barbell with the desired weight, then approach the bar with feet shoulder width apart
• Keeping back straight, head up and chest out, reach down and grab the bar (grip should be just outside your feet, and feet should be positioned under the bar)
• Keeping the posture previously described, lower your glutes until about parallel with your knees (do not go below this point)
• Pushing up from your heels, squeeze your glutes and lift the weight up until you are fully upright
• Perform 3-5 reps at a challenging weight (heavy enough to tax your muscles, but not so heavy you feel you may be injured. This is an exercise that takes practice to master, and you should focus on perfecting your form before increasing the weight)

3. Farmer Carry

farmer carry

Lumberjacks are no strangers to having to carry heavy weights for extended distances. This is why our third exercise to gain lumberjack strength is the farmer carry – performing this exercise will net huge gains in grip strength and shoulder development (not to mention mental toughness).

• To start, put two objects of equal weight at your sides
• Pick the weights up, keeping your back straight and head back
• Continuing to grip the weights, walk forward for as long as you can hold the weights
• Complete the next rep by picking the weights up and walking straight back to where you started
• Perform 5-8 reps

4. Bent Over Rows

Last on the list is the bent over row. Overall back strength is very important to lumberjacks, as they need to be able to lift logs, chainsaws and all manner of other heavy objects from the floor. The bent over row is performed as follows:

• Load a barbell with the desired weight, then approach the barbell as if you were going to perform a deadlift
• Reach down, grabbing the bar at about shoulder width, keeping your knees less bent than they were during the deadlift
• Keeping your top half bent over, pull the bar up to your stomach, then lowering it for the next rep. You should really feel the exercise in your back and posterior delts during the contraction phase of the exercise
• Perform 8-12 reps

Timber! Perform these routines 2-3 times a week with at least 24 hours of rest in between workouts, and make sure to stretch and stay limber after performing heavy lifts such as the deadlift and bent over row. You’ll have the strength to chop down trees in no time!

James Niehaus