Log Press

The log press is a staple event in most Strongman contests and is a critical event to master in order to obtain top results. It is a movement that must be trained consistently to reach peak performance. Some of the best bench pressers and Olympic lifters have been humbled the first time they attempted a log press. The movement requires precise technique, overhead strength and repetition to hit big numbers. In this article I will go through the basics to explain the log press, and offer some tips on how to improve results.

What is a log?

In modern contests, most logs are made of steel. The size is typically 10 to 13 inches in diameter and 4 to 7 feet long. There isn't a standard size, but the majority of Strongman contests have 13-inch diameter logs that are usually 5 to 6 feet long.

The handles are spaced around 24 inches apart and are centered on the log to provide proper balance. Empty logs weigh 200 to 275 lbs.

Natural logs are used in some contests. They are usually a little more difficult to handle due to the difficulties posed in balancing them perfectly. The logs usually have Olympic-sized bars on the ends to add bumper plates for increased weight, as required.

Lift execution

To perform a log press, pick up the log from the ground and lift it overhead. The final position is executed with locked arms and the log positioned directly overhead. The only real technical rule is not allowing the bar to rest on the head.

Most competitors complete the lift in two or three steps: pickup, clean and press overhead. If the log is light enough, it is possible to pickup and clean in one motion, and then press  or to pickup, then clean and press in one motion. This technique is used by Hugo Girard and Derek Poundstone with great success when doing log press for reps.

Proper technique

Pickup phase. There are a few different ways to approach the pickup phase. The idea is to lift the log to the top of your thighs and against your core. Most Strongman competitors use a modified bent row-type movement that combines some leg drive, slightly bent arms and a row toward the chest /hip area. Other lifters use straight arms and a deadlift-type movement to position the bar to the top of the legs. The idea is the same for both; the bar must end up on top of the legs and tight against the body.

Clean phase.

The clean phase is next. I clean the log in a way similar to an Olympic lifter: on the second pull of a snatch using the same technique as when I load a stone. I start with the log tight against my abdomen, making sure it is on the top side of my belt. I then explode my hips forward, driving the bar upward, then catch it on the top of my chest. Other lifters use less hip drive and turn the log over, using wrist and arm power to "roll" it to the top position. Very big men like Zdrunas and Glen Ross lift the log to the top side of the abdomen in the initial pull and turn their hands under to complete the clean. Experiment to find what works for you. The biggest mistake at this phase is the newcomer's tendency to try to strictly curl the log, which can lead to injury.

Press phase.

The press phase completes the lift. There are many different ways to achieve the press. Some lifters continue in one motion from the clean phase and continue right up into a press. Others rest at the shoulders and do a push press, using some leg drive combined with shoulder and triceps power to complete the movement. The big guys sometimes do a movement very similar to the old Olympic-style press, using very little quad drive, lots of calf drive and a lean back technique to drive the log up overhead. Dave Ostlund has perfected the lean-back technique, with great success. A few experienced Olympic-style lifters have also been successful in jerking the log to completion. This becomes more difficult as the diameter of the log increases.

Assistance exercises

All exercises that increase the overall power of the triceps and shoulders are beneficial to perfecting the log press. Laterals, triceps extensions, dips, standing dumbbell clean and presses, narrow grip and incline bench press, cross-body dumbell curls and stone loading are all exercises I do to improve my log press. Another exercise is pressing in a rack, either seated or standing, with a log or log bar for partials. These can be done with chains and or bands, as well. Quick movements are beneficial, and practicing some of the Olympic lifts will also increase your results.

Record progression

Hugo Girard was the first strongman to officially log press 400 lbs. in a competition. Over the past six years, Zydrunas Savikas has since rewritten the record book all by himself to its current mark of 212.5 kilos, or 468 lbs. Brian Schoonveld and Bill Kazmaier were near the 400 lb. mark and were America's best log pressers for many years. In a previously unprecedented display of power, the American record of 400 lbs. was destroyed at the Olympia last year and rewritten to its present mark of 430 lbs., held jointly by Van Hatfield and Scott Weech.

The log press is a great exercise to increase overall body power. It should be a staple in all strength athletes workouts. Proper execution of he lift will allow for maximum poundage and results. PM ~Reprinted with permission from Power magazine, June 2010.