Explosive weight training and other forms of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) have long been known to increase testosterone, but if you want to experience a real pump of this volatile hormone why not give it a go at some old fashion wood chopping? I incorporated this into my own workout about a year ago – I have no shortage of fallen trees, and so have been painstakingly reducing them to tiny chips. The results have been very surprising. Chopping wood is almost addictive.
A study conducted last year (Evolution and Human Behavior) showed that vigorously chopping logs can boost testosterone more than other forms of exercise. It even outperformed competitive sports like soccer. Why is this? I suspect it is because of the primal nature of this activity. When you put your back into it – and your legs, arms and shoulders – you really dig in, gouging that log as if it were some enemy or prey you want to overcome. Its very easy to experience full exertion in a matter of seconds. I can even sense a difference in this activity vs lifting weights to exhaustion, sprinting or other ways to “knock yourself out”. And the benefit to your core is just as great as that to the upper body.
Of course there are other possibly more convenient ways to simulate the motion. I have seen trainers in MMA or in Crossfit swinging a sledge hammer at a tire to get the same result. There might even be additional benefits to supporting muscles with juggling that heavy sledge, but I have tried this and can tell you that it just aint the same. There’s something about digging that blade into the wood. You can brace yourself and really explode into frenzied motion. 😉
Why not add it to your routine? I do two short sessions of about 30 seconds at the end of my usual workout. The first one at a moderate level (you can twist something if not careful) and the second at full wild animal intensity. Be sure to chop from both sides, alternating and from directly overhead. When you’re done you will feel an upper body pump second to almost nothing else. Give it a try and see for yourself!