Half Kneeling Chop and Lift

Half And Tall Kneeling Chop and Lift Exercise
By Alli McKeeMarch 1, 2016

Half Kneeling Chop And Lift Exercise

The half kneeling cable chop is a great anti-rotational core stability exercise for strengthening the musculature of the anterior core. It also develops hip mobility and stability. This exercise is extremely versatile and can also be performed in a tall kneeling stance, a square standing stance, and a split standing stance.

Equipment needed:

You need a weight plate, dumbbell, or kettlebell to perform the kneeling chop. You can also use a cable machine, or a resistance band.

Ability level:


Beginners should start out with the standing square stance chop as it is the easiest variation to perform, and can do 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps/side. Then, they can either add in 1 or 2 more sets, or can progress to the most advanced variations described below, or can add more weight. Beginners should use less resistance and should make sure that they use proper form before they add more reps, weight, and also perform more difficult variations.


Intermediate lifters can use the half kneeling chop at the beginning of a workout as a stability based warm-up exercise. It can also go at the end of the workout, after the more advanced compound exercises have been performed, or on its own or as part of a core training circuit. Intermediate lifters can do 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions per side of the half kneeling chop. Intermediate lifters can begin to use the tall kneeling stance, and can use additional resistance.


Women of an advanced fitness level can use the half kneeling and tall kneeling chops the same way as intermediate lifters, but they can add additional resistance.

Benefits of Half Kneeling Chop and Lifts:

How a woman chooses to use the half kneeling chop is highly dependent on her overall technical ability and experience, how much weight is used, the set/rep scheme used, where it falls in the workout, what it’s paired with, and what the rest periods are. In general, the half kneeling chop can be used to do any or all of the following:

  • increasing core strength, primarily in the anterior core and obliques
  • evening out asymmetries and imbalances between the left and right sides
  • developing hip stability and mobility
  • reduced risk of injuries, particularly any that result from a weak anterior core and the subsequent pelvic and spinal stability

How to perform a Half Kneeling Chop And Lift:

While I am going to describe the half kneeling chop, you can also perform the tall kneeling chop where you are on both knees

  • Get into a half kneeling lunge/split squat position. Your knees should be in line with your hips, and your body in a square position.
  • Hold a dumbbell, weight plate, or kettlebell by the horns.
  • Before you go take a deep breath into your belly (360 degrees of air around the spine), brace your core (I like to pretend that I’m about to block a soccer ball with my stomach), actively tuck your rib cage towards your hips (close the space in your midsection), and squeeze your glutes. Now perform a diagonal chopping movement with the weight.
  • Keep your arms relatively relaxed so they do not dominate the exercise.
  • Keep your shoulder blades drawn together and down (together and down towards your opposite hip). Do not allow yours shoulders to round or shrug.
  • Maintain a tripod foot (weight on the mid to back of your foot, and keep your big and baby toe down) for the duration of the exercise. This will dramatically improve your overall stability and ability to perform this exercise. You might even feel the glute of the forward leg, and this is a good thing.
  • Maintain proper alignment for the duration of the exercise. There should be no rotation occurring in your shoulders, torso or pelvis, and your body should not tilt laterally. Your body should remain relatively vertical (can have a slight forward lean in your torso), and your spine should remain in a neutral position.
  • Do not allow your knee to collapse in or fall out.
  • Reset before each rep. Once you have finished chopping in one direction, repeat in the opposite direction.
  • Choose a weight/band/cable resistance that allows you to accomplish the above.
  • If you are performing the tall kneeling chop, get in a kneeling position, so your knees are in line with your hips. Make sure your body is level and is not leaning backwards.

Video Transcription: 

The positions that I am about to show you are are tall kneeling and half kneeling. These are great for integrating core stability with hip mobility and hip stability as well. Half kneeling looks simple but if you do it correctly it is really difficult - in fact I still have kind of a hard time getting into the proper position. I like to use this to steady myself.

You are going to bring one foot in front of you like in a lunge or split stance position. You want to try and square your hips as much as possible. What happens is that people will let one hip kick out to the side, or this hip will come up really high. You want to try to get as square as possible, so that this knee is in line with this hip and this knee is in line with this hip. You don't want this knee to cave in or come out. Again I am going to try and get as square as I can. You can put a bench next to you to steady yourself or hold on to one of these. Another important thing is to not jam forward. People say “oh, this is easy”, while they are hanging on the their hip capsule, they are not actually using what they are suppose to be using to get their stability. So you want this to be in a nice straight line, this knee at about a 90 degree angle, for a lot of people (myself included) just sitting in half kneeling is pretty challenging. So we try to get people to sit in this position and just breath and take relaxed belly breaths.

Once you have done that, if you want to make it a little bit more difficult, you can grab a weight and you can do a half kneeling chop. A lot of people do a half kneeling chop with bands or from a cable machine, that's fine. We do a lot of classes at my gym, J&M Strength and Conditioning, so it's just easier to use a kettlebell. You grab a kettlebell under the horns once you are in a nice solid half kneeling position. You chop kind of down towards your hip and then up towards the other knee. Again, this is not an arm exercise, this is to simply challenge your stability. Up and down will be one, and we generally go from 8 to 12. You can also do this from a tall kneeling position. So that was half kneeling, and half kneeling chop.

So now I am going to show you a tall kneeling chop. So tall kneeling, you are on both knees, knees again are kind of in line with the hips, you are going to extend through your hips. You don't want to be here, you want ribs down, glutes underneath you, you don't want to lean back. Again it looks really simple,but there are a lot of ways you can mess it up. Stay nice and tall, ribs down, glutes underneath you and you are going to chop. With this one we generally go side to side. You can do all one side if you like, you can use a kettlebell, you can use a weight plate you can use whatever you like. So that was half kneeling, a half kneeling chop, and a tall kneeling chop.


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About the author:  Alli McKee

Alli is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. She's contributed to and modeled for a number of major publications including Oxygen magazine and the New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged. You can find out more about Alli on her personal blog at www.allimckee.com.

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