What Muscles Does Splitting Wood Work? [Answered]

What muscles does splitting wood work?

Well, you’ve come to the right place, because that’s exactly what I’ll be going over in this post.

So, let’s get straight into it!

1. Core

The other most significant zone that gets strengthened would be your core.  It can be said that the act of swinging the axe down the center of the body line, then raising it back up that body centerline when reloading activates the same muscles as crunches.  

The motion is identical and the addition of the weight at the top of the axe and the balance needed to bring it up is a more advanced form of a crunch if you ask me. 

Core strength is the foundation of wood splitting, without any you will feel the burn the next day.  The stronger your core is the more you can control every part of the swing and deliver strong and precise swings.

2. Shoulders

Along with your hips, your shoulders’ stability and strength will increase and therein develop your abs through the focus of balance between the two.  The axe is being balanced while being brought up and down during a swing; the shoulders are responsible for this balance as well as a lot of the strength needed.

This work out of the shoulders is one in which both sides of the muscles are being trained.  When pulling up on the axe it works out the upper shoulder, while the lower part of the shoulder is strengthened when swinging down.

3. Upper and Lower Back

Both the upper and lower back are responsible for keeping you in proper form and the spine in the center.  With the repetitive motion of going up and down with the axe, as well as the sheer power the whole body delivers, the back is the centerpiece of this whole action. 

When squatting and swinging, you do far less damage to your back and can even strengthen your back with your ability to keep balanced.  

These are great muscles to exercise because they are responsible for most of the movement you make.  You have to make sure to use the proper form because it is incredibly easy for you to throw your back out.  This could render you useless, in general, for a long time.  

4. Gluteal Muscles

When squatting and swinging your axe you are consistently tensioning the gluteal muscles, thus strengthening your butt. This comes down to the technique in which you are swinging the axe. With any form of squatting involved, you will be targeting the gluteal muscles. 

The act of adding power to any swing will derive from the legs, and the transition of the power from your legs to your upper body will occur in your gluteal muscles.  

The better your form when lifting the axe, the more you will strengthen your gluteal muscles thus making it easier to deliver more and more power with time.

5. Hamstrings

Same as with the gluteal muscles, hamstrings are worked out anytime you make any motion with your back and legs.  Since the force is being driven from your legs, this directly affects your hamstrings. 

With your lower back focused on keeping your whole body balanced, the hamstrings are directly impactful in that process.  

In addition to these processes, equating this whole wood splitting process to more squats would only increase the work the hamstrings do.

6. Calves

The force of the swing should be coming from your feet, originating from the calves both in springing up with the axe to stretching them on the downswing.  

The more energy you put into the upswing from your calves or feet the more power you can swing down with.  The stronger your calves, the more power you can exert into each swing over the long haul. 

7. Forearms

The balance of the final parts of the swing, including the direction of the bit, will come from the control of your forearms.  You can easily strengthen your forearms with every attempt to pull the axe out of the rounds when it gets stuck.  

The more you strengthen your forearms, the more control you will have over any degree of the swing.  While using proper form when swinging, the forearms will not be worked out as strongly as the shoulders, back, or core they will become stronger.

8. Cardio

One of the biggest advantages of splitting wood is that it is a great cardio workout.  You can easily burn between 350 and 500 calories an hour.  The consistency of raising the axe and swinging it down during longer sessions of wood splitting increases your heart rate. 

This increase in heart rate can help burn more and more calories, as long as you are using the proper form.  

These increased heart rates are affected by the rate at which you work and how long your session is.  The longer and faster you work the more calories you will burn.  Be sure to use proper form, otherwise, you can injure yourself.


The muscles splitting wood works are; the core, shoulders, gluteal muscles, hamstrings, calves, forearms, cardio, upper and lower back.