5 Ways to Do a Chop

By Micaela Young |

Build a strong core and a mobile, pain-free back with this exercise that can be done seated or standing.

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A big part of staying independent and active is being able to rotate with ease. Think about it: You reach up in the cupboard for a dish, place your laundry to the side as you fold it, and check your blind spots when you drive. You even twist when you dance in Zumba class, play tennis, or go fishing.

To do all these activities, you’ll need a strong core and the ability to turn with control.

Enter the chop exercise. It’s a full-body move that trains the muscles in your core, back, arms, and legs to work together as you reach up and across your body and then back down. When these muscles are in sync, you’ll move more efficiently, and you’ll feel more stable.

The best part: No matter your fitness level, there’s a chop for you. Here, SilverSneakers Master Trainer Andi show you five ways to challenge your core.

How to Use the Chop

You’ll just need yourself, a chair, and open floor space to get started.

Follow along as Andi demonstrates five different variations of the chop. Start with a smaller range of motion, and when that feels good, try a bigger range of motion.

Focus on engaging your core throughout the entire movement and creating your own resistance as you push up and pull down.

If you’re taking a SilverSneakers LIVE class, your instructor will guide you through the exercise, but feel free to use the variation that feels best for you. If you’re working out on your own at the gym, do up to three sets of eight to 10 reps per side.

As always, safety is key. These exercises may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Variation #1: Seated Chop

Sit tall in your chair with your chest up, shoulders back and down, and feet planted firmly on the floor. Engage your core, and clasp your hands. Gently rotate your torso to one side, and bring your hands outside of your belly button.

From here, keeping your core engaged, rotate to the other side while bringing your hands above your shoulder. Rotate back to the other side while bringing your hands down to return to starting position. Allow your gaze to follow your movement.

Variation #2: Use Bigger Range of Motion

Perform the seated chop, but increase your range of motion. Start with your hands above your hip, and bring them up higher over your opposite shoulder.

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Variation #3: Standing Chop

Stand tall with your chest up, shoulders back and down, and feet planted firmly on the floor. Engage your core, and clasp your hands. Gently rotate your torso to one side, and bring your hands above your hip.

From here, keeping your core engaged, rotate to the other side while bringing your hands above your shoulder. Rotate back to the other side while bringing your hands down to return to starting position. Allow your gaze to follow your movement.

Variation #4: Use Bigger Range of Motion

Perform the standing chop, but increase your range of motion. Start with your hands below your hip, and bring them up higher over your opposite shoulder.

Variation #5: Use Biggest Range of Motion

Perform the standing chop, but increase your range of motion further. Bend your knees to come into a shallow squat. Start with your hands at about thigh level, and push through your heels to lift up from the squat, rotate, and bring your hands above your head.

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