Steal This Killer Core Exercise from Chelsea Handler If You're Bored with Your Ab Workouts

Spoiler: It's much harder than it looks.

The Late Late Show with James Corden airing Wednesday, October 28, 2020, with guests Chelsea Handler and CL
Photo: Terence Patrick/CBS via Getty Images

Chelsea Handler may be the undisputed queen of late-night comedy, but she knows how to get down to business when it comes to working out.

In a new Instagram post from her trainer Ben Bruno, the comedian is shown powering through eight reps (on each side) of a rotary chop done from an isometric split squat position. As if that's not challenging enough on its own, Handler performed the move using a pulley system with a 25-pound weight plate attached to it.

"This is stupid," she's heard saying in the video before even starting the exercise. "What is this even working?"

Joking, Bruno retorts: "Nothing, just killin' time like usual."

Humor aside, though, Handler is an absolute beast for crushing this exercise, with perfect form no less. "Chelsea is actually quite impressive," Bruno tells Shape. "She has a way of making everything look easy, especially when it comes to the core — and it's really not. She's just really strong." (

Kneeling rotary chops (in which the knee is touching the ground) primarily target the obliques and the transverse abdominis (a deep part of the abs that helps stabilize the lumbar spine and pelvis), explains Bruno. But by elevating the knee and holding an isometric split squat, you're working more than just that. "This position further increases the demand on your core, which forces you to engage both the upper and lower body to stabilize," he says. "By not placing your knee on the ground, you essentially make this a full-body exercise."

If you don't have an intricate pulley system at home, don't worry. Bruno says you can still find ways to reap the benefits of this move. Simply get into an isometric split squat and perform a wood chop using a dumbbell, medicine ball, kettlebell, or any household item that can pass as a weight. While these modifications won't be exactly the same as Handler's workout, it's the closest you can get without proper equipment, notes Bruno. (Unfamiliar with wood chops and split quats? Here's a step-by-step breakdown of both to help you master the move.)

During her workout, Handler performed three sets of the exercise, Bruno says. For those of you trying to incorporate this exercise into your own routine, he recommends following the same blueprint.

That said, trying to crush 25 pounds right off the bat may not be your best bet. So listen to your body and be mindful of how much weight you can handle without compromising form, suggests Bruno. (Here's how to fix your exercise form for better results.)

Even though Handler fires through her reps like a total pro, this was actually the first time she ever tried this exercise, Bruno shared in his post. In the caption, he said Handler had been nagging him to give her new exercises during their sessions — a request he says he was happy to oblige (no matter how much Handler complained), as he's a huge proponent of progressive overload. The term refers to a systematic increase in the difficulty of your workouts, achieved by increasing volume, intensity, or resistance to help you get stronger.

"In order to become stronger, you need repetition in your exercise," Bruno tells us. "But if you switch up your exercises too often, it's like that movie 50 First Dates. There's going to be a learning curve every single time with each exercise. So you need repetition in order to improve."

That said, there's a balance. "Variety is important too," he explains. "Not just to ward off boredom, but also to expose your body to new moves."

So, in Bruno's opinion, it's good to switch things up about every four weeks. "That's a good sweet spot of having the chance to improve and also exposing your body to new movements," he says.

If you think it might be time to switch things up in your own routine, make sure you're working out effectively. Better yet, take a peek at what a perfectly balanced weekly workout schedule should look like to help you get the most out of your sweat sessions.

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