Whether you are a strongman, strongwoman, athlete, physique competitor, or just trying to get in better general shape, the log clean and press provides a total body movement that can lead to huge gains in strength for the back and upper body. Pushing a tree over your head is great for increasing size and strength, but what makes it so different from a traditional barbell?
The log is much wider, which makes your body work much harder to stabilize the load throughout the movement. Since the log must be taken from the ground, you will engage your entire body to get the log overhead. Your legs, posterior chain, upper back and shoulders all have a turn as the exercise progresses.
How to Clean and Press a Log
The log clean and press actually requires three separate movements: lapping, cleaning, and pressing. All of them depend on a strong upper body.
- Lap: Start with a deadlift, then with your chest high, sit the log into your hips. Keep your core tight and elbows high.
- Clean: From the lap position, thrust your hips up and forward. Keep the log high on your chest, and rotate your arms underneath it. Have your elbows high to create a front shelf for the log. Keep your core and back tight to prepare for the press.
- Press: From a nice, high position of the log on your chest, initiate the press overhead. The high elbows allow for a smooth press backwards. Use your legs like a push press for an extra boost.
Assistance Exercises for the Log
The log clean and press will, by itself, create a strong upper body. But there are several different exercises that target muscles to help your log press become even stronger. Here are a few assistance exercises that I like to incorporate to improve my log press:
How to Train With the Log
So how can you incorporate the log clean and press into their training? It depends on your goals and experience lifting objects over your head. If you are just starting out, working on skill alone is important.
Start by working on the clean with a lighter load, but performing sets of 8-10 repetitions. You want to be able to complete enough repetitions correctly without fatiguing too much. In this case, practice does make perfect.
If you are able to clean and press the log with reliably proper technique, you can use it to improve strength. Keep the volume low, and perform sets of 3-5 repetitions. You may also use the log clean and press for conditioning, using sets of 8-10, with little to no rest between sets.
I primarily use the log in two ways in my own training:
- At the start of an upper body day: I will have a nice upper body warm-up, making sure my shoulders, lats, and chest are nice and loose. I will start my workout with 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps. I like to include them at the beginning of my workouts if I am working on strength, so that my body is not tired. I like to be fresh for them.
- As conditioning: I will incorporate an EMOM (every minute on the minute) at the end of either an upper body day if I want a burnout, or a lower body day if I don’t want to completely tire my legs out. Because this is conditioning, I keep the repetitions high, but allow myself to complete the work within the minute, so I will keep my repetitions to five. This can be done with either just the clean, or the full clean and press.
Take it from a 120lb girl who used to spend all her time in a general fitness gym working with traditional equipment. If you have a log or other unique pieces of equipment in your gym, use them! They can provide a lot of benefit for both your physique and strength.
Move beyond the bells: