With at-home fitness booming, resourceful folks have turned to wine bottles and rocks as makeshift weights. But if you want to amp up your conditioning workouts, the Chopper allows you to channel your inner warrior while working up a sweat.

The compact and portable 20-inch tool, which resembles an ax and costs $139, is designed to optimize your home or gym workout experience as it feels different depending on where you grip it, ensuring more bang for your buck.

The Chopper works in tandem with the associated app, ChopFit, which offers 30 different 20-minute workouts that are enjoyable, easy to follow and sure to challenge even the low-key lumberjacks in our midst.

How it works

Training with the Chopper is similar to the concept of using a maceball/gada, as it utilizes uneven weight distribution. In other words, depending on where you hold the Chopper — handle or head — the weight is supposed to feel heavier or lighter.

The brand describes this range as between 6 and 16 pounds, although I never felt that it was significantly heavy or anything near the higher end of that scale.

That being said, the Chopper is an excellent addition to cardio sessions for multiple reasons. Not only do you reap the benefits of a total full body workout, but the relatively simple movements on the ChopFit app workouts will also improve your coordination, endurance, stability and overall strength and fitness.

The workouts

Workouts with the Chopper
Workouts with the Chopper

Though you can certainly just go hell for leather and swing the Chopper around like Thor, it’s smart to follow the app (particularly if you’re a beginner.)

On first use, the ChopFit app explains the difference between holds (for example, high holds, split holds) and grips. You can — and should — alternate grips for each circuit, the guide recommends. There’s also a strap that can provide additional support if you want it.

The workouts, which are all of the high-intensity circuit training variation, involve an optional dynamic warmup and a sequence of six exercises that should be performed four times with one minute rest in between.

The exercises typically incorporate moves like Side Chop, Squat Chop, Windmill Chop and Jump Chop. While you follow the circuit, a fitness model will demo the exercises on the screen, which helps for the more challenging ones.

Typically, there are 10-20 reps in each section. You can select whether you want your session to be “tough,” “tougher” or “toughest” by customizing how many reps you’ll perform.

All things considered, the Chopper feels like a fun way to ramp up relatively straightforward workouts. But don’t be fooled, these sessions still get your heart racing quicker than you can say “Timber!”

ChopFit app
ChopFit app

Caveman-inspired fitness has been trending for the better part of a decade, and it’s clear to see why: There’s something satisfying about swinging an ax up and down while performing squats.

As mentioned, coordination definitely helps. And I’m not going to lie. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to get the hang of jumping lunges while waving the Chopper around in a figure eight.

My main tip, which is probably an obvious one, is to add music. The first circuit I performed in silence, I felt quite foolish moving the fire engine-hued ax around. Enter deep house beats, and the next thing I knew, the workouts took on a whole new level. I also quickly realized why “wrecking rooms” and ax throwing bars are so popular these days; it’s definitely therapeutic.

Within the app, there’s also options to work out only using the head of the tool. There are a lot of excellent options for arm work here (think: bicep curls, chest press, overhead raises, tricep extensions, etc.)

Accountability

The app’s notifications are great for inspiring momentum. You can partake in “Chop Challenges,” that vary in length from three days and up. Thanks to a calendar option, you can inform the app of the days and times you typically like to exercise and it will send you gentle reminders to do so in order to complete the challenge. Plus, with the workouts lasting less than 20 minutes each, it’s hard to find an excuse to slack on them.

The verdict

The Chopper
The Chopper

Generally speaking, there’s one major drawback to the one-size-fits-all Chopper: It’s not loadable, so you can’t increase the weight. So if you’re looking for something with substantial heaviness for your strength training needs, I don’t think this plastic-covered ax will … cut it(!).

That being said, it’s the perfect tool to add to your existing bodyweight cardio and conditioning routine.

Though the Chopper is $139, the fact that the (free) ChopFit app contains versatile workouts and challenges seems like a sound economic trade-off when you consider the cost of other on-demand fitness apps.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.