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Strongman training is the ultimate way to strength train. Some of you may argue, but no other type of training can have such a huge carry over to “real world” activities. Odd object lifting, deadlift variations, various types of carries, and grip challenges. Really, it’s a great way for men and women to train, build confidence and the strength to take on anything. That’s why Results is super excited to announce starting in May we will host a Strongman or Strongwoman Training Group culminating in a contest complete with prizes!
Since everyone loves odd object lifting and putting heavy stuff overhead, let’s take a look at the log press. It’s a staple event in strongman competitions. In my mind, it is the most difficult of the overhead pressing events for various reasons (balance, size, grip). The name of this press variation comes from when lifters would actually use a wooden log with handles added to carved out holes in the center of the log. Fortunately, we now have ‘logs’ made out of steel that can come in various sizes and weights to train with.
Pressing a log can be more difficult than a standard bar but safer on the shoulders. The challenge comes from the handles, which are neutral grip, meaning your palms face each other. Pressing with this grip is more difficult but the trade-off is, that it’s easier on the shoulders because it limits external rotation at the shoulder joint. Nowadays, most people have some sort of shoulder issue so a pressing movement that puts less stress on the shoulder can be a much better option. If the log is too difficult to press then using a Swiss/Neutral grip bar would work as well. The Swiss bar is considerably lighter and not quite as large in size making it easier to control.
One of the reason the log clean and press can be difficult is due to the seemingly unlimited variations in the log. This also helps create technique that combines almost five traditional lifts into one total body beat down. As I stated earlier, logs can come in various sizes and the diameter is the biggest variant. Typically, women will press a 10” diameter log and men will press a 12” diameter log. The smaller the log the easier it is to press but the clean is more difficult. The larger the log the easier the clean and the harder the press. The log clean is significantly different than an Olympic style clean with a barbell. To get the log from the ground to the shoulders you would start by standing directly in front of it with feet at shoulder with or slightly wider. Hinge at the hips and grab hold of the handles. From here you will do a combination of a deadlift and a row to get the log to your lap. You’ll sit down so you can have the log resting on your thighs but pinned to your upper chest. At this point you will squeeze your upper back to engage the lats, rear delts and traps to keep the log pinned to the chest while you begin to stand up and roll the log up the chest to the shoulders. As you’re reading this I’m sure you’re thinking, “That’s a lot of work just to get the log to the shoulders”. You’re right. There are numerous movements involved in just getting the log to the shoulders (deadlift/row, front squat, triple extension of the knees, hips and upper back). This is part of what makes this movement so great; it involves numerous muscles and movements in one lift.
Lastly, when pressing anything overhead you will have to have a very strong core to stabilize the trunk while hoisting the weight above your head. The log places a slightly greater stability challenge than a barbell would so the musculature of the abdominals, low back and hips are need to engage together to stand tall while balancing the log with the arms locked out. The typical person that goes to the gym doesn’t press overhead very often and instead opts for the bench press which is considerably easier to perform. For this reason, I recommend people find an overhead press variation that works for them as it will improve their upper body strength and core stability which will carry over to almost all other upper body lifts.
Unfortunately, most gym goers and fitness enthusiasts have never actually seen, let alone used a log. It’s a specialty bar that most gyms don’t have but fortunately here at Results Personal Training I keep my 12” log for my own training and for a handful of clients’ programs. Stop in and give it a try if you’re up for the challenge! Or sign up for our 12 week Strongman/woman training program at Results and get real world farm strong.