The Woodsman Workout

When civilization falls, people are only left with the essentials: food and water. For those who want to be prepared for survival in a post-apocalyptic world, this is a great way to start strength training so you can carry heavy items like firewood or build shelters quickly.

The “how to start exercising again” is a blog post about the author’s struggle with depression and how he started exercising again. The blog post discusses the benefits of exercise, as well as the author’s personal journey.

Man in bomber hat flannel with ax on shoulder.

My family and I took a much-needed trip to our chosen hometown of Montpelier, Vermont, last week. Since we’ve been married, Kate and I have gone there roughly once a year, and we even lived there for six months after I finished from law school. Vermont’s natural beauty revitalizes my manhood. During my brief travels, I try to go out and appreciate the Green Mountains as much as possible. Hubbard Park, 134 acres of nothing but lovely Vermont woods and great tiny pathways for wandering, is one of my favorite locations in Montpelier.

While Montpelier has a tiny, unimpressive gym, most Vermonters keep in shape the same way Kate’s uncle, the famed Uncle Buzz, does: by doing housework and walking their dogs. While I don’t have a Vermont farmhouse to maintain, I was able to keep in shape by utilizing just what I discovered in Hubbard Park’s woods (and a trusty maul). Exercising outdoors using Mother Nature’s Gym’s equipment challenges your body, enhances your male vitality, and, as you can see in the photos below, helps you develop a pretty gorgeous mustache.

I’ve included my Vermont workout program here. So eat your flapjacks, don your flannel shirt and boots, take your axe, and go outdoors. It’s time to get down to business with the Woodsman Workout.

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Breathing deeply

Vintage man in bomber hat taking deep breathing.

Start your Woodsman Workout with some deep breathing techniques to clear your thoughts and oxygenate your blood in preparation for the strenuous action ahead. The diaphragm is the source of a normal breath. Inhale slowly through your nose the pure woodland air. Imagine your lungs filling up from the bottom to the top as you inhale. Exhale slowly and deeply through your mouth. Visualize the air in your lungs being sucked out from the top to the bottom. If your tummy goes in and out while your chest and shoulders remain motionless, you’re breathing appropriately.

Take 20 deep breaths in and out. Concentrate on the sound of your breath and the nearby gurgling creek.


Vintage man standing in forest and looking his front.

The Woodsman Workout is built on the basis of hiking. We’re continuously moving in between the different workouts since we’re always trekking. During my time in Vermont, I attempted to trek around Hubbard Park every morning for roughly 5 kilometers. Hike at a fast pace, but take plenty of rests to take in the sight. Perform each of the activities below anytime you feel compelled by nature, and resume trekking as soon as you’ve completed one.

With a log, do a front squat.

While trekking and soaking in the scenery, keep an eye out for logs to heft and hoist. On the side of one of Hubbard Park’s pathways, I discovered a magnificent log from a white birch tree that was excellent for lifting. It weighed in at a hefty 75 pounds. If you can’t locate a suitable lifting log, falling a tree and bucking a log will gain you additional woodsman points.


Squats are an excellent technique to build the lower-body strength required for lengthy walks and leglocking rambunctious moose. Although the back squat (with the weight on the back of your shoulders) is the best squat exercise for activating all of the muscles in your lower body, I chose the front squat in my Woodsman Workout because 1) I didn’t have a squat rack and 2) I wanted to focus on my core and quads, which the front squat does.

Vintage man hoist log from the ground and into his arms.

Grasp the log and lift it off the ground into your arms. The log should be propped up as high as possible on your arms.

Vintage man slowly squat until his thighs are parallel with the ground.

Squat down slowly until your thighs are parallel to the floor. You may accomplish a deeper squat with less effort since your hamstrings are less stretched during the front squat, so feel free to “break parallel” if you like. Focus on maintaining your torso straight when squatting. Perform three sets of eight repetitions, pausing for a minute between each set.

With a Log, Do an Overhead Press

One of my favorite workouts is the shoulder press, which is much better when done with a large birch wood log. The overhead press engages every muscle in your body, including your shoulders, upper chest, core, and legs. Because you have to engage multiple muscles to keep hold of the log throughout the lift, the girth of the log makes the lift a little more challenging.

Vintage man hoist log to the top of his chest.

Ascend to the top of your chest with your log. Grip the plank approximately an inch or two wider than your shoulder. The distance between your feet should be roughly shoulder width. Keep your eyes straight forward.

Vintage man pressing the log over his head.

Place the log on top of your head. Exhale as you raise. Shift your body forward and continue raising the wood till it reaches your forehead. When you reach the bottom of the lift, lock your elbows and hold for a second. Slowly lower the log back to its original position while breathing. That counts as one rep. Perform three sets of eight repetitions, resting one minute between sets.

Crawl like a bear

Vintage man crawling in forest.

By executing bear crawls through the woods, I was able to tap into the power of my animal spirit guide, the noble bear. They aren’t really interesting. Simply crawl like a bear on all fours, ensuring sure your knees don’t contact the earth. During your walk, do the bear crawl in one-minute bursts anytime you feel like it. During your walk, aim for 5 crawls.

Tossing Boulders

In the gym, you’ve undoubtedly seen individuals throwing medicine balls. Boulder throwing is the Woodsman Workout’s counterpart of this. Throwing large stones is an excellent full-body exercise. Your back, chest, legs, arms, shoulders, and core are all worked out. The best part is that throwing big objects about in the woods is a lot of fun.

Vintage man bending down with his legs to pick up the rock and lift it to his. chest.

Choose a rock that is a fair size. Mine weighted about 50 pounds, plus or less a few pounds. To pick up the rock, bend down with your legs and raise it to your chest.

Vintage man rocked up and out by pushing his arms up from his chest.

Push the rock up and out as quickly as you can by raising your arms from your chest. Enjoy seeing your rock hurtle through the air before landing with a thump on the earth. Pick it up and hurl it once more. Perform three sets of five throws, pausing for 1-2 minutes between each set.


With a Log, Do Walking Lunges

With the front squat, we worked our quadriceps; now it’s time to work our hammies and glutes. It’ll do the job if you run through the woods with a log dangling over your head.

Vintage man begin with log hoisted above head.

Begin by hoisting the log over your head.

Vintage man lunge forward with his right leg until his right thigh is perpendicular with the ground.

With your right leg, lunge forward until your thigh is perpendicular to the ground. Your left knee should be almost parallel to the ground. Push up with your left leg and lunge forward with your left leg until your left thigh is perpendicular to the ground, without hesitating. Continue alternating in this manner for approximately a minute. Repeat two more times after a minute of rest.

Lumberjack Press is a publishing company based in the United States

The lumberjack press was initially introduced to me by Canadian AoM fitness blogger Chad Howse. It seemed only right that I included a “Lumberjack Press” exercise in the Woodsman Workout. A wonderful shoulder workout is the lumberjack press. In order to maintain the log straight and balanced throughout the lift, it also engages your core muscles.

Vintage man hoisting log lengthwise onto his right shoulder.

Begin by raising your log onto your right shoulder, lengthwise. Grip the log with both hands in the middle — the left in front, the right behind — to keep it smooth and balanced.

Vintage man lift the log above his head.

Lift the log over your head, keeping it straight during the lift. It’s more difficult than you think.

Vintage man lower the log onto his left shoulder.

Reduce the weight of the log to your left shoulder. Yes, my look makes it seem as if I’m trying to force a beaver-sized B.M. out of my mouth. That, my friends, is the look of a guy who finished one rep of a lumberjack press successfully. There are just four more to go! Raise the log and place it on your right shoulder once again. Perform two sets of five repetitions. After you’ve completed the first set, swap your hands so that your right hand is in front and your left is behind. This will put greater pressure on your left shoulder.

Splitting Wood

Without a session of wood splitting, a Woodsman Workout would be incomplete. Splitting a stack of wood is a great way to get a good exercise. Swinging the maul around works your arms, back, and core. It’s also a fantastic cardiovascular exercise.

Vintage man placing his log on a larger log.

Place your log on top of a bigger one. Begin by placing your non-dominant hand at the maul’s butte and your dominant hand near the maul’s head. Raise the head of the maul over your head.

Vintage man sliding his dominant hand down the shaft of the maul for extra power.

Swing your arms down. Slide your dominant hand down the shaft of the maul as you swing for more force.

Vintage aim in the center of the log.

Make a beeline towards the log’s middle. Continue swinging until the wood is entirely split by your maul. Get a new log and continue dividing. During wood splitting workouts, alter up your hand location to train the various sides of your body.

 Deborah Johnson-Surwilo took the photos.



Frequently Asked Questions

What muscles does wood splitting work?

A: Wood splitting works all of the muscles involved in about every movement.

How do I get a lumberjack body?

A: A lumberjack body is a cosmetic appearance that can be unlocked by playing 10 songs in one session.

Is log splitting a good workout?

A: Log splitting is a great way to work out your shoulders, arms and back. If youre looking for an intense workout though, I would recommend something like Crossfit or P90X

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