How to Log Press with Joel Hendershott

Strongman events are just fun. I love the familiarity of the 3 powerlifts and the discipline of bodybuilding. But strongman is just fun! Where else can you see car deadlifts, kegs, and giant stones being thrown around? No kidding, I witnessed a conan's wheel event where the weights were Hooters girls, one of whom was pregnant. This wasn't even in Austin, yall. You never know what events you'll see at a strongman competition.

Joel pulls a truck in a strongman competition

I asked Joel to teach me some strongman lifts. Joel Hendershott is a strongman coach at Big Tex Gym in Austin, Texas. He has an ISSA strength and conditioning certification and runs Bracestrength.com. Joel has a great story: he was overweight, inactive and expecting his first child. Instead of waiting for a better time, or when he was less busy (let's be honest- when will life get less busy?) he went to work becoming someone strong and healthy for his kid to look up to. 

He began powerlifting in 2012 and did his first meet in 2013. That same year, he took an interest in strongman. He was living in Vancouver at the time and he found the local competitors to be extremely welcoming. 

“Here’s the thing about strongman: It was just random equipment at random people’s houses. If someone had an awesome log in his garage, we went there. If another guy had big tires, we trained there. The guys were like, ‘Yes, come train with us.'’’

Sidenote: Joel and I agree that this inclusive and supportive spirit wasn’t just because they were nice Canadians. Powerlifters and strongmen and -women competitors are known for being supportive of each other, even cheering for each other in meets. If you’re considering jumping in, quit hesitating!

The Clean

The log press is a quintessential lift in the strongman competitions, and is unlike any other clean and press or jerk. It requires the strength of a deadlift, flexibility of a low paused squat, coordination and strength of a clean/front squat, and stability of a heavy overhead press. Whew! And yeah, it was as tiring as it sounds. 

I used wraps loosely wrapped around my forearms, less for joint support and more for protection against knocking my forearms on the log.

  • Begins with the handles of the log facing slightly down, away from you. 
  • You essentially stiff leg deadlift the log to just above your knees and squat with it. Be sure you don’t put it on your thighs or midleg. (Don’t actually lock your knees out during those movement; just know that you won’t be able to drop your hips as low or bend your knees as much as during a conventional deadlift.) 
  • Get your elbows high.
  • Drive your hips through to stand up with the log and quickly drive your elbows forward.

You can see here that I didn't keep my elbows high on rep 2. It made it much harder and slower.

Joel shows us how its done.

Tips: 

Start with the log tilted forward, where the handles face slightly away from you.

Supplement your training with front squats. Paused front squats are a fantastic assistance exercise with huge carry over to the log press. 

The press

Once you have the log to your shoulders, you begin your set up for the press. As Joel says, put the mass of the log against the mass of your body. You can either strict press or push press.

Keep your elbows high whether you are strict or push pressing. Remember you are pressing a log; it is round and will roll down your arms if you let your elbows fall. 

To strict press the log, stand tight with your elbows high and forcefully drive the log up. 

To push press, stay tight, initiate a quick bend at the knees, then a forceful drive of the log overhead. The push press must be a quick dip and drive. If you languish at the bottom of the position or stand up slowly, you lose power.

As you can see in this video where I do 2 presses, my elbows drop a little bit before the second press, and it knocks me off balance. 

Joel and I worked on the log press and stones for about an hour. (How to on stones coming soon!) I was pretty wiped out! These lifts are obviously great for conditioning and overall strength. I will be incorporating them into my regular workouts!

If you'd like to train with Joel, contact him at beardfacestrength@gmail.com. Be on the lookout for the how to on stones, and email me or Joel if you have questions!

 Stephen and Joel talk shop while working with the log.

Stephen and Joel talk shop while working with the log.