Bushcraft as a Workout

Published on Nov 13, 2020

Winter is near, and there is nothing to do in the garden except chopping wood. As I wrote in another article, gardening is a great way to work out, but so is woodcutting. This is the second installment in my series of alternative workouts. 

I've been watching a lot of bushcrafting videos over the last year, but only decided yesterday to buy myself a cheap Canadian hatchet to give it a go. I broke the handle after only two hours, working with wood isn't easy.

It's not like I know nothing about wood. My family has been using a fireplace as a main heating system for decades, but I rarely tried chopping wood myself.

I went to buy a more resistant version this morning, then had some fun making wooden stakes for the garden. Then I took the bigger axe, aka the splitting maul, and chopped fire wood.

After an hour, you will be full of sweat. The splitting maul is particularly heavy and will work your entire body, while the hatchet is more of an upper-body workout. 

In both cases, it's dangerous to use when you're tired, so never exercise till exhaustion. You also have to be really careful about your posture, as these tools have real potential to hurt your back. It's a lot like doing deadlifts really, you have to make sure you control the movement at all times and watch out for missed strikes by wearing appropriate equipement and splitting your legs or staying closer to the ground. 

A splitting maul is about 4 kg (8lb). It might not look like a lot if you're used to lift weights, but momentum is nasty and you'll have to perfectly control the fall! Sometimes, the blade gets stuck and you have to perform something called a full-lift chop: lifting the ax and the log! It's quickly tiring really.

I just need to buy a woodworking plane, and I'll be able to craft some cool stuff like outdoor benches or sculptures!