Kentucky Strong: The Log Clean and Press

TAGS: tios, split jerk, push jerk, log clean and press, log, Kentucky Strong: The Log Clean and Press, body weight program, clean and press, push press, Chase Karnes, Programs, technique, strongman

The log clean and press is quite possibly one of my favorite strongman events. While I typically do pretty well on this event, it wasn't always that way. The first time I ever tested my log clean and press I hit 220 pounds. However, over the next three and a half years I took that number from 220 pounds to 335 pounds. And to be quite honest, a lot of the strength came from simply improving my technique. Sure, I've gained some body weight and used some very smart programming, but like with most lifts, at the end of the day technique is vital for making or missing lifts. You must have good, solid technique on the log clean and press to have a base to build your strength upon.

While I think the bench press is cool and all, there’s just something so badass about taking a log implement  from the ground, raising it to your chest, and eventually hoisting it all the way overhead. The log press is a very important event for strongman competitors, but I think others can find value in it. I mean, who couldn't use stronger shoulders and triceps?

The Press: Push Press? Push Jerk? Split Jerk?

The following cues are for once the log has reached the rack position:

Push Press: 

Maintaining the breath from the clean, you’ll begin your descent by breaking at the hips and pushing the knees out, making sure to keep your weight on the outside of your feet. The elbows stay up and the neck is extended. You’ll want the dip to be fast enough in order to initiate a stretch reflex, but not so fast as to lose tightness, elbow position, or contact with the log. You’ll want to aim for a depth in the dip that allows you to keep your tightness and your elbows up, along with a fast and powerful transition back upwards where you focus on driving the knees into extension and transferring force to the log as you powerfully continue to press the log upwards and overhead.

Push Jerk:

Maintaining the breath from the clean, you’ll begin your descent by breaking at the hips and pushing the knees out, making sure to keep your weight on the outside of your feet. The elbows stay up and the neck is extended. You’ll want the dip to be fast enough in order to initiate a stretch reflex, but not so fast as to lose tightness, your elbow position, or contact with the log. You’ll want to aim for a depth in the dip that allows you to keep your tightness and your elbows up, along with a fast and powerful transition back upwards. As the knees reach full extension and the force is transferred to the log, you’ll continue to drive the log upwards forcefully with the arms and shoulders while simultaneously dropping the body down under the log into a quarter-squat position and locking the arms out overhead. Then, you need to extend the knees until you’re standing fully erect with the log locked out overhead.

Split Jerk:

Maintaining the breath from the clean, you’ll begin your descent by breaking at the hips and pushing the knees out, making sure to keep your weight on the outside of your feet. The elbows stay up and the neck is extended. You’ll want the dip to be fast enough down in order to initiate a stretch reflex, but not so fast as to lose tightness, your elbow position, or contact with the log. You’ll want to aim for a depth in the dip that allows you to keep your tightness and your elbows up, along with a fast and powerful transition back upwards.

As the knees reach full extension and the force is transferred to the log, you’ll continue to drive the log upwards forcefully with the arms and shoulders. As the log leaves the rack position, you’ll start the transition of the feet. As the log is forcefully being pushed upwards, you’ll begin to push yourself under the log, reaching forward with the lead foot and pushing the back foot backwards. The back foot should have contact with the floor slightly before the front. Both knees should flex slightly as the body drops under the weight in order to allow full lockout overhead. Once the log is locked overhead, the next order of business is to make sure the weight is stabilized overhead. Once this has happened, the athlete will finish the lift by stepping the front foot back about a third of the way and then finishing the remaining two-thirds by bringing up the back foot. Both feet must be brought back to parallel while maintaining the log locked out overhead.

Again, which you choose is really up to you. Give them all a try and see what feels best to you—then master it.

 

 

As you notice on the video, one area I didn’t go into too much detail was in regards to the actual press portion itself, and this is for a very good reason. Whether you push press, push jerk, or split jerk the log, it all really does come down to personal preference. I highly recommend giving all three a try and see what feels and works best for you. Personally, I use more of a push jerk technique with lighter weights and reps. However, as the weights gets close to my max, it becomes more of a push press.


The Press: Push Press? Push Jerk? Split Jerk?

The following cues are for once the log has reached the rack position:

Push Press: 

Maintaining the breath from the clean, you’ll begin your descent by breaking at the hips and pushing the knees out, making sure to keep your weight on the outside of your feet. The elbows stay up and the neck is extended. You’ll want the dip to be fast enough in order to initiate a stretch reflex, but not so fast as to lose tightness, elbow position, or contact with the log. You’ll want to aim for a depth in the dip that allows you to keep your tightness and your elbows up, along with a fast and powerful transition back upwards where you focus on driving the knees into extension and transferring force to the log as you powerfully continue to press the log upwards and overhead.

Push Jerk:

Maintaining the breath from the clean, you’ll begin your descent by breaking at the hips and pushing the knees out, making sure to keep your weight on the outside of your feet. The elbows stay up and the neck is extended. You’ll want the dip to be fast enough in order to initiate a stretch reflex, but not so fast as to lose tightness, your elbow position, or contact with the log. You’ll want to aim for a depth in the dip that allows you to keep your tightness and your elbows up, along with a fast and powerful transition back upwards. As the knees reach full extension and the force is transferred to the log, you’ll continue to drive the log upwards forcefully with the arms and shoulders while simultaneously dropping the body down under the log into a quarter-squat position and locking the arms out overhead. Then, you need to extend the knees until you’re standing fully erect with the log locked out overhead.

Split Jerk:

Maintaining the breath from the clean, you’ll begin your descent by breaking at the hips and pushing the knees out, making sure to keep your weight on the outside of your feet. The elbows stay up and the neck is extended. You’ll want the dip to be fast enough down in order to initiate a stretch reflex, but not so fast as to lose tightness, your elbow position, or contact with the log. You’ll want to aim for a depth in the dip that allows you to keep your tightness and your elbows up, along with a fast and powerful transition back upwards.

As the knees reach full extension and the force is transferred to the log, you’ll continue to drive the log upwards forcefully with the arms and shoulders. As the log leaves the rack position, you’ll start the transition of the feet. As the log is forcefully being pushed upwards, you’ll begin to push yourself under the log, reaching forward with the lead foot and pushing the back foot backwards. The back foot should have contact with the floor slightly before the front. Both knees should flex slightly as the body drops under the weight in order to allow full lockout overhead. Once the log is locked overhead, the next order of business is to make sure the weight is stabilized overhead. Once this has happened, the athlete will finish the lift by stepping the front foot back about a third of the way and then finishing the remaining two-thirds by bringing up the back foot. Both feet must be brought back to parallel while maintaining the log locked out overhead.

Again, which you choose is really up to you. Give them all a try and see what feels best to you—then master it.


Questions and Answers

I asked my Facebook friends for any questions or concerns they had on the log clean and press. I have addressed some of the more common ones in the following videos:

My elbows drop out of position during the dip phase of the press? What’s going on and how can I fix that?


When I clean the log, it always ends up three inches too low on my chest instead of the proper rack position. How can I fix this?


When I clean the log once, I have trouble pressing for reps. How can I keep the proper position for pressing for reps without having to re-clean the log each time?


Once I clean the log, I feel like I’m going to blackout? How can I fix this?


What gear do you recommend for the log clean and press?


Other Tips

  • To build a big log press, there are some movements that definitely seem to help. To have a strong log clean and press you need strong quads, shoulders, and triceps, along with a strong upper back. My top five exercises for building the log press (not including the log press itself) are strict overhead presses, close-grip bench presses, front squats, one-arm rows, and face pulls.
  • If your press is strong but your clean isn’t, then you’ll want to clean each rep instead of cleaning once and then pressing for reps in training. If your clean is strong but your press is weak, you’ll want to work more on cleaning once than you do on pressing for reps.
  • Use your warm ups to practice and perfect technique. Make small jumps and warm up/work up slowly. Be explosive and aggressive on each rep.
  • This is just a personal thing, but I never train strict presses with the log. Anytime the log is in my hands, I’m being as aggressive and forceful as possible. From the pick to the clean to the press, I want it ingrained in my body and my mind so that there’s never a second thought. When my hands are on the log, I’m moving fast.
  • When doing my first few warm up sets, I like to take a step forward and backward (and occasionally side to side). I find that this activates the shoulder and core musculature a bit more while also allowing the body to feel comfortable stepping forward or backward under a weight when it’s overhead. With the diameter and balance of the log, there will be times when you have to step forward or backward to save a log press attempt that has gotten “out of the groove.” I’ve found that doing this makes me much more comfortable with taking that step when the time comes.
  • Build your log with a variety of training. Competitions have a wide variety of log events—everything from a max log event, to a log clean once then press for reps, clean and press each rep for reps, or as part of a press medley with other implements. Don’t be afraid to work in the lower percentage range (45-65%) and to work on being explosive and on your technique. Clean once and then press for reps. Clean and press each rep. Work up to heavy fives, threes, and doubles and singles. Also make sure to hit some backoff sets with rep work. Whatever you do, just make sure to get the log in your hands and with consistency.
  • In my opinion, the split jerk isn’t a very efficient technique for cleaning and pressing for reps with submax weight. The push press or push jerk uses a lot less time and also allows the lifter to complete more reps in a given time frame.

So there you have it—how to clean and press the log along with a few common questions and some little tips that I find make a big difference.

Loading Comments... Loading Comments...