How To Do the Dumbbell Reverse Chop

How To Do the Dumbbell Reverse Chop

Most gym workouts suffer from the same problem: They occur in a single plane of motion. That’s because most well-known exercises (e.g., squat, biceps curl, deadlift, lunge, push-up, pull-up, etc.) entail either a front-to-back or an up-and-down movement, landing them squarely in the “sagittal plane” category. If you also do side-to-side movements, like the lateral lunge, you get points for hitting the frontal plane, but odds are you’re still neglecting the third plane of motion (transverse) and a key movement pattern: rotation.

To build real-world strength and power, you need to give your workouts a twist with exercises like the dumbbell reverse chop. In addition nailing your core — which controls rotational movement — you’ll target your shoulders and quads. You’ll also crank up your heart rate as a host of secondary muscles kick in to you help you execute this total body move.


Exercise Instructions for the Dumbbell Reverse Chop

Muscles targeted: Core, shoulders, quads.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in both hands in front of you at arm’s length.
  • Keeping your back flat and core braced, bend your knees and rotate left, lowering the dumbbell to the outside of your left knee. That’s the starting position.
  • In one explosive movement, stand and rotate to the right, pivoting your left foot as you lift the weight above your right shoulder.
  • Reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Perform an equal number of reps on both sides.

Make it easier: Use a lighter weight, or only bend your knees slightly, lowering the weight to the outside of your left hip.

Make it harder: Use a heavier weight, or lower the weight all the way to the outside of your left foot.

Bonus tip: Keep your arms straight to maximally engage your shoulders as you lift the weight. Also, be sure to rotate your shoulders and torso as a single unit — you don’t want to twist your spine.

Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S.


Trevor Thieme is Openfit’s Fitness and Nutrition Content Manager. He is also an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, traveler, writer, father, and former nationally-ranked lawnmower racer. When he’s not helping others stay fit, he’s working up a sweat himself. More often than not, that means trying to keep up with his daughter. Follow him on Twitter.

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