The log press is the bench press of the strongman community. Unfortunately, I have witnessed some pretty atrocious log press attempts through the years. I’ve been fortunate enough to train amongst some of the best log pressers in the world over the course of the last five years and I’ve been able to pick apart their craft. This has allowed me to come up with a list of nine things that these guys have gotten down that most guys struggle with. If you’re making one of these mistakes, a quick correction could have you on the way to a big log PR. If you’re making several of these mistakes then this might be one of those A-ha! Moments. Maybe you'll turn a weakness into a strength.
1) Don’t be too aggressive on the actual pick of the log.
Getting the log to your waist faster doesn’t get you extra points. By picking the log somewhat slowly and being deliberate, you can actually get better positioning for the clean. Just like anything else, if you rush, there’s a lot more room for deviation.
2) Grab the log dead center.
I’ve seen guys grab it forward and back of center with all kinds of weird descriptions as to why it works. It doesn’t work. You need complete control of the log both forwards and backwards. The only way to do this is by grabbing the center. If you grab the handle off center you’re only creating a weakness at one part of the press. Also when you grab the log you will want to tilt the log forward and away from you as this helps to get your elbows into better position for the clean.
3) THIS IS NOT A POWER CLEAN!
The fact that the implement is a log eliminates any possibility of power cleaning it. If you understood what a power clean was and you realized that the idea of the lift is to keep the bar as close to center as possible, you would realize that having your hands and the mass of the log six inches away from your center immediately makes that impossible.
4) Don't let your elbows go too low and too close to the body in the clean.
As you approach your lap, get your elbows up high and over the log, keep that forward tilt of the log as you hit your lap. This will allow you to generate a ton of torque and allow you to get your elbows into a much better position for pressing as you stand up with the log.
5) Don’t be too quick with the redirection.
Sit nice and deep into almost a full squat position. Right when you think you should clean it, sit a little deeper. Squeeze your upper back to keep the log tight to your diaphragm and then explode from the hips and punch your elbows underneath the log.
6) Fix your elbow positioning in the rack.
There are two ways to screw this up: either your elbows are too high or too low. This is not an Olympic Jerk. Having your elbows too high makes it extremely difficult to get your triceps engaged at the top of the lift. Having your elbows too low makes it difficult to get leg drive into the log and also inhibits a tight rack position.
7) Get tighter.
Once you get into the rack position your rack position has to be as tight as possible. This means everything. Flex your glutes hard. This will keep you upright and help to prevent any slouching that tends to occur from the awkwardness of the size of the log. Brace your abs hard against your belt. Now you have to build a solid rack position. Wrap your lats around you. Flex your biceps and triceps as hard as possible and squeeze the log like it’s a low-life that owes you money. Now flex your pecs like you’re doing the pec deck machine at the gym. Your elbows should be perpendicular to your shoulder joint and directly under the handles of the log not out wide.
8) Learn proper leg drive.
Make sure to drive from your hips and not from your knees. The log is big and awkward, which makes it difficult to stay upright. Try to shove your hips back and generate some good leg drive. I see a lot of guys bending at the knee and doing a quick leg extension to get leg drive. The good pressers get great hip drive.
9) Don't try to get under the press too quickly.
Again, this is not an Olympic lift. Because the mass of the log is away from your center, it makes it extremely difficult to get all of your leg drive into the implement. This means you will likely have some degree of press out. People rely on their ability to drop and jerk too much and try to get their head through which leads to the log coming back at them. Instead, lean back just a little bit and really brace your abs. Watch some of the great log pressers such as Big Z, Dimitar, and Poundstone. All of their max attempts end with a gratuitous lean finished by upper ab flexion to pull them back under the log.
Now be free. If you’re doing any one of these things, knock it off! Go clean it up and hit a huge log.