Written by Kalle Beck
You decided to give strongman training a shot or have your eyes on an upcoming contest. You have a strong bench press and can put up some good weight on the seated overhead press but the first time you try to clean and press a log you feel lost, angry and a bit humbled. You know you are strong but your gym lifting strength isn’t carrying over to the event. Just like in any other lift if you are out of position you will lose power, lift less weight and no one wants to be doing that. So how do you apply your pressing power to carrying over to a big log press?
It all starts with the clean. At California’s Strongest Man in 2012 the first event was Log Clean & Press for max the problem was we did it in the middle of a storm. People were missing weights 30-50lbs under their max because of the conditions but I hit a 5lb PR and took first place in the event. Why? I have an efficient clean so despite the bad conditions I was still able get in a good position to press.
You do not want to muscle the log up to your chest and do some ugly reverse curl/back bend combo this will tax you for the press and it is all downhill from there. You need an efficient clean and that is accomplished by using your biggest muscles. You have hips and legs. Use them!
Approach the log and take a shoulder to slightly wider then shoulder width stance. Roll the Log forward so the handles are pointing up at 45* angle towards you.
Take a strong grip. Bend at the hips and knees keeping a fairly flat back flex your back and lats hard. Take a deep breath and initiate the clean by driving through with your legs as you row the log up into your lap. Keep your elbows out and flared wide.
Once in your lap you want it out over your knees with the back of the handles still angled up towards you. Keep your elbows high and flared out pulling the log into your chest with it as high on your chest as you can get.
Take a deep breath and make it count. It will be hard to breathe once the log is racked on your chest. Think of rolling the log up your chest by hugging it close to your body and driving your hips forward. It is all about ending in the right final position. Elbows high and pointed forward, lats flared, head back with eyes looking at the ceiling.
By getting your elbows high it will put the handles angled back so when you press the log actually goes over your head. It is so big the log has a tendency to get out in front of lifters which puts you in a position of having to recover not of applying power. Press the Log back over your head. There are a few methods to the press and it is very lifter specific on finding out what works for you. Strict Press, Push Press, Push jerk, Power Jerk, Split Jerk or some variety. Experiment with different styles of presses and find what is best for you.
- Clean each Rep: start with multiple sets of 3 and really work on cleaning submaximal weights fast and efficiently. Alternate between that and max clean and press in 60 seconds with a weight you can get for between 6-10 reps. Once you can get 10 add weight. Having to do so many cleans especially in a fatigued state will drill the movement pattern in your head so it becomes second nature
- Upper Back Work: Your upper back really can’t be too strong and it is needed to have a solid base to press off of. My favorite Upper back movements are 1 arm db rows, face pulls, front squats and reverse ring flies
- Front Squats: This is the king of building a big log press. It will make your quads strong to develop powerful leg drive. Make your clean more explosive, Increase your upper back and core strength so the log doesn’t fold you and get used to handling weights on your chest.
- Bench Press: Yes you should bench press. I do not know where this theory that bench doesn’t carry over to strongman happened but if you look at just about every strongman with a big log press they all bench a lot usually with a ton of volume. Stick to the close grip varieties. My favorites are incline bench and close grip in a sling shot.
- Zydrunas Press: I mean it was coined by the strongest overhead presser yet to live so it might be a good idea for you to give them a try too. Sit on the floor with legs flat in a power rack with the barbell sitting below the chin on the pins. Get tight or else you will fall backwards. Start light! It is a humbling move.