How Athletes Can Use the Log Press to Improve Upper-Body Strength

Learn the many benefits of training with a log.

Outside of strongman training programs, despite its many benefits, the Log Press is not a commonly used exercise.

If your training facility happens to have a log, consider yourself privileged to be training in such an awesome environment and start to include the log in your programs immediately.

When it comes to overhead pressing, the log offers four unique benefits over the traditional barbell:

1. Neutral grip handles. This is a much more anatomically friendly position for the shoulders, and is much less likely to bother the joint during the pressing movement compared to pressing with a pronated grip.

2. Instability. Due to its inherently awkward shape and large size, a fair amount of instability is created within the shoulder girdle when the log is pressed overhead. Consequently, this provides a powerful training effect to every muscle that contributes to the stabilization of the shoulder joint.

3. More fun. Sure, it's great to hoist a loaded barbell above your head, but doing it with a large and more awkward object is even more satisfying.

4. Carryover to the Bench Press. Although this may not be the case for everyone, some athletes may experience an improvement in their Bench Press as a result of performing the Log Press, as a result of increased shoulder stability and triceps strength from locking out at the top of the movement.


Log Press

As you can see video above, the lift has two phases—the Clean and the Press.

The Clean

  • Stand with your feet underneath the log, just wider than hip-distance apart
  • Angle the log at 45 degrees so that the handles face away from you
  • Assume a "Deadlift" set-up, brace your abs and perform a "deadlift-like" movement to break the log from the floor
  • Once the log has left the ground, pull it in to your hips
  • The log should remain angled away from you, so that your elbows are pointing straight up toward the sky
  • While maintaining braced abdominals, aggressively thrust your hips forward
  • At the same time, pull upward to roll the log up your body and whip your elbows underneath the log
  • Stand tall with the log racked on your shoulders and your elbows up as high as you can get them in front of you

The Press

  • Take a deep breath, dip slightly by bending your knees and hips, then explosively drive upward
  • As you extend your arms, think about pushing your elbows back and body forward so that you finish with your head directly underneath the log

Note that if you wish to perform a strict Log Press without any assistance from your lower body, you will need to minimize the time between the Clean and the Press, because the longer you spend in the racked position, the more fatigue you will generate in all of your stabilising muscles and the less likely you are to have a successful Press.

Log Press WorkoutsLog Press

There are three main ways in which the Log Press can be performed:

  • Clean and Press each rep from the floor
  • Hang Clean and Press each rep
  • Clean the log just once and then perform your Presses

The first two options involve working through a much greater range of motion. They also use more of the lower back, which can fatigue rapidly. Therefore, when trained with heavy loads, they are most suitable for lower reps (1-3) for the development of strength and power.

Since the latter option only requires one Clean movement from the floor, the lower back is spared a bit more, so slightly higher reps can be used (1-6). This method can have a strength or hypertrophy focus.

If you have technically sound technique and enough experience, you can use higher reps (8+) in any of the methods; but you must obviously take care since your lower back and shoulders will have a tendency to tire before everything else, which can lead to sloppy technique and increased injury risk.

Since cleaning the log is quite dependent on technique, it is a lift that is preferably used as the first exercise of a training session when your body is in a non-fatigued state.

Log Press


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock