Growing up as a boy in Germany, I was always fascinated by the endless pine forests that seemed to go on forever. I’d see men with forearms like Popeye and chests like barrels quaffing beers and throwing axes at logs in almost nonchalant disdain. The way the wood would explode into halves as the blade shot through it was almost hypnotic. The action, the smell and of course, that glorious sound made everything so delicious. It remained with me throughout my life and now, finally, not only do I have an excuse to chop, but it contains benefits that I embrace with the same arms that swing those axes.

Why would anyone want to chop wood, though? It’s actually very simple. It’s good for you.

Chopping wood is, simply put, one of the best workouts you can give your body. Let’s think about this. First of all, you need a good solid stance, right? Making sure the feet part at a comfortable distance, usually about shoulder width, in order to have a good solid base, you are prepping for action. Doing this means your hamstrings, calves, quadriceps and gluteal muscles are all in use and are tense and braced. Going on from there, you have the swing itself. This is generated in the latissimus dorsi, the lower and middle trapezius, the deltoids, obliques and the pectorals. Completing the swing, you will use smaller muscles in order to stabilize it. It’s one of the few motions, not unlike swimming, that uses a whole range of motions and muscles in order to complete one action.

Best of all for folks that hate doing floor exercises, but still want to try and work those abs, is that this action is basically like doing crunches, only you’re standing up and aren’t getting bored to tears. Crunches are boring. There, I said it.

But it doesn’t end there. Because wood chopping is considered a low-intensity workout, it can improve cardiovascular endurance when you perform is slowly and steadily for a protracted amount of time. With practice, the constant repetition of the swing of the axe will build precise form. This form will raise your heart rate, burn calories and improve your circulation.

Additionally, the motion of the swing – which should be smooth and fluid-like with practice – will not adversely affect your joints, because this exercise is effectively not a weight-bearing one. If you chop wood, say, twice or perhaps three times a week, it will help build aerobic fitness and as we all know, this is what you need in order to efficiently take in oxygen while you perform not just exercise, but any kind of physical activity.

As with any physical activity that requires certain amounts of exertion, you’ll be releasing both endorphins and adrenaline. These are both feel-good chemicals produced naturally within the body.

So chopping wood is in that bizarre situation of being both creative and destructive at the same time. Chopping wood is so rewarding and from personal experience, way more rewarding than any clinical workout in any gym or Crossfit box. You’ve achieved something and have actually something to show for it. You can feel all the muscles working and best of all, that satisfying ache of a job well done. Not to mention the fact that chopping is a confidence booster. Add that final element of problem solving when you come across that one particularly knotty and stubborn piece of wood that just doesn’t want to be split and you have what could be argued as the perfect workout.

As any Spartan Death Racer will tell you, log chopping is a staple part of the Death Race as it’s the perfect workout. Perhaps going back to basics is sometimes the best approach to go forward. So get chopping and sign up for your next race now.

See you at the finish line…

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Ah yes, it’s that time of year again, the infamous Spartan Death Race is almost here!  Athletes have been arriving in the sleepy town of Pittsfield already and congregating at the Pittsfield General Store to mingle, to speculate, and to prepare last minute items for the unknown trek ahead.  The Death Race begins today, June 21… or does it!?  Only Joe D and Andy know for sure.  The stories of past Death Races are infamous – diving for pennies, eating onions, extracting stumps from the ground, carrying kayaks and tires for an ultra-distance, lifting rocks for six hours, chopping wood for five hours, completing 3,000 burpees… the list goes on. No one can confirm what will be included in this year’s race but that doesn’t keep anyone from trying.

Each year has a theme.  Last year was betrayal, the year before was religion.  This year, we are being introduced to the Year of the Gambler, and that includes precious poker chips for the players, some of which are already being handed out.  No one knows what these chips will be used for or what the competitors could cash them in for.

Tasks for Chips

The gear list is also infamous, among other items, this year the competitors have been instructed to bring a tuxedo, 5 lbs of hay, a Life Jacket, $5.00 in quarters, and a pound of grass seed.  What will the gear be used for?  No one knows, though that doesn’t deter everyone from taking their best guess.

The field is really competitive but it is more of a tight knit community of friends than a community of rivals.  At Spartan HQ we expect a lot of heroics among the unimaginable that lies ahead in the coming days.  Joe D said, “We have to step it up each year!  It doesn’t matter what we throw at them, they keep coming back for more.  They step it up, and we step it up.  This year, we stepped it way up.”

Rumors are running rampant and tasks being leaked with the potential for claiming chips already.  There was even a secret meeting filmed at the General Store…

Who will be left standing when it all ends?  We’ll know soon…

How to stay informed

Follow the hashtag!  #PeakDR will keep you looped in on all things Death Race online – Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and OFFICIAL Spartan Death Race updates can be found HERE. and daily updates on stats will be provided on the Spartan FB page as well.

Other resources: 

Are you a spectator in Pittsfield?  Find a ton of Spectator Resources HERE.

Official Death Race t-shirts can be found HERE, you have to look the part, right?

Stay tuned for all things #PeakDR to see who can survive the Spartan Death Race!

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