Written by Mike Jenkins
Once upon a time there was a man with sweet traps that had a World Record log press of 345lbs and he did even better the next two years and raised it to a whopping 358lbs. It just so happened that the year I was born, 1982, the record stood at 358. In 1988, six years later, that very same man who will go on to simply be known to strength fans as Kaz upped his very own World Record to 374lbs. Let’s hop in the Delorean with Michael A Jenkins, not Michael J Fox and skip ahead to 2012. There are ten men gathered together in a little contest called The World’s Strongest Man and their first lift in the Max Log event that year is, yes first attempt, about 10lbs heavier then Kaz’s World Record in 1988. The winner, the greatest presser of all time, the monster simply known by the last letter of the alphabet ended up pressing 484lbs. Z pressed 110lbs more than one of the best strength athletes of all time on his 5th attempt, I think, in 90+ degree weather after a week of events and one earlier that day. So how the hell did we get to a point where weight that is now repped was once a World Record?
The log is not like most strongman events in my opinion. It is however very similar to a bench, squat and deadlift. The best in the world at those events do not just head out Saturday and hit some random weights, some for speed, some for max effort; they strategically attack the lift itself and piece it together. With that being said I dedicate days in the gym to pressing, I do not believe in doing pressing on event days. Why? So much goes into a big press I do not think you can get a quality workout simply hitting a log, axle or dumbbell then moving on to yoke, farmers and some stones. You need to work more than just the press on press days. I do a ton of assistance work after my initial pressing movement. So what do I mean by all this? What does a cycle look like training to hit a big number on the press? From here on out, headbands with hearts and dope ass neon chucks are optional but… always remember, look good and you’ll feel good, feel good and you’ll play good!
So here we go! You’ve taken that next step in being a man, or awesome woman because your stronger then guys that wear skinny jeans, and you’ve set your sights on a big press. Let’s get crazy and say it’s a World Record, they’re cool to have! We are going to start about 12 weeks about; Rome wasn’t built in a day. We are going to have a day dedicated to push presses, jerk or however you fancy getting it locked out. I stay in the rack for a while and we’re hitting a good bit of reps. Why? Big lifts don’t matter in the gym; we want big weight on game day. By a lot of reps I mean 8-10, those last 1-2 should be very hard but I need that volume and my body cannot take 12 weeks of heavy ass doubles and triples. Remember, it’s like all the other lifts, go try to pull your deadlift PR every week. Good luck bro! We are building right now, not testing! These days for now are pretty quick, hitting 3-4 real work sets with those reps. After that it is recovery and mobility stuff. I do a bunch of banded triceps pushdowns and face pulls to get blood into the area I just worked. Finish with some foam rolling and lax ball stretching. Does not seem like much but you don’t need to walk out of the gym everyday feeling like Thor played tug of war with your body. Let’s skip ahead a few weeks. We are hitting some pretty respectable numbers and the weight were hitting for 5-6 is not too far from our old 3 rep max. It’s about to get real, we’re throwing in some cleans. We are still hitting rack work first to keep that big press on the right track. I find that pressing out of the rack does not hurt my cleans. Keep in mind; if your deadlift and squat are getting stronger it will more than likely help your clean.
Wait! We’re not done. We have another day of press work to get that big press. The same goes for the amount of reps and volume but we are strict pressing, no PRs the first few weeks. You’re tired from a boatload of reps but we got more! Next is some sort of press variation lying either on a floor or the bench. I have one rule about this, no flat benching, I have not benched regularly in 3-4 years. My go to lift is floor press with a swiss bar or axle, really hits my triceps good. I never go below 8 reps on these, I prefer going up in weight with 3-4 sets of 10-12. Whoa, not done! Triceps time, bodybuilding isolation style. I pick two triceps movements, one usually being dumbbell extensions. If you take nothing else out of this article please take this….All of my assistance focuses on triceps! Why? Look at a majority of failed presses, nobody gets stuck on their chest unless they are just way out of their league, they miss it the last few inches! If my left triceps was a bit stronger I would’ve hit 484 with Big Z at World’s, but it wasn’t and I walked away with 2nd place and not a tie for the new World Record.
Check out Mike hitting a 460 Log for 2 reps!! This helped Mike win the prestigious Arnold Strongman Classic in 2012.
The time has come, it’s game day, time to get your PR on and walk away with a badass ninja sword or battle ax that you can’t take on the plane. I mean all terrorists limp on to the plane with raw forearms smelling of dirty Rehbands and WD-40 carrying medieval weapons right? Our last few weeks we have dropped our reps, our volume is a lot less and we are doing a lot more cleaning. What happens next is up to you, I envision myself crushing a 500lb at World’s Strongest Man then either karate chopping it in half or breaking it over my quad Bo Jackson style only with a bigger bat. If you’re trying to smash logs holla atcha boy, [email protected]Mike Jenkins is one of the biggest and fastest rising names in the World of Strongman. The 2012 Arnold Strongman Classic Champion (and 2011 runner-up), Jenkins is also a 2x finalist at World’s Strongest Man. Jenkins is based out of Harrisburg, PA, where he trains at 13 Stripes Crossfit. Mike offers online training for Strongman, Powerlifting and Crossfit athletes and can be reached at [email protected] Facebook, Twitter