The log press is a popular strongman exercise but other types of lifters can definitely do it too. Find out how to do this exercise correctly and what the effects will be.
Log presses are similar to shoulder presses in that they mainly work your deltoids, triceps, and trapezius but there are many differences too.
First of all, getting the log press bar into position is a lot more technically and physically challenging. You will also need more balance and coordination and use your shoulder stabilization muscles more due to the bulky bar.
Log press bars have neutral handles which are typically easier on your shoulders and wrists than a straight barbell. However, because of how hard this exercise is, you do want these body parts to be in good shape for the log press.
A potential downside is that you do need to invest in or make a good strongman log press bar.
However, with the challenge, enjoyment, and physical benefits you get from this exercise the bar may be worth it.
How to do a log press
The log press exercise is not only about how strong your deltoids, triceps, and trapezius are. There are a few steps involved to get the bar to shoulder height that can be technically challenging.
In theory, you could also start with the log press bar elevated with something like jerk blocks. However, you generally only want to do this once you have mastered the clean part of the exercise.
Before doing the log press, you need a log press bar with weight plates or another way to start with the bar elevated. Once you have these things, you can take the steps below to do a log press.
To better visualize the steps, you can start by watching the walkthrough below.
1. The setup
Before actually doing the exercise, you want to make sure you start in a good way. Load the log press bar with weight plates, preferably bumper plates, or elevated the bar with something you can stand below it.
Keep in mind that strongman log press bar weights are heavier than regular barbells. Additionally, due to this exercise being technically challenging, you may want to start off light and build up from there.
Make sure the log press bar starts tilted with its handles pointing forward, not upward, so the next step can go smoothly.
After that, put your feet under the elevated log press bar. You want your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and pointing outward a bit.
Bend somewhat through your knees and forward and grab the handles.
2. Lapping the log
Next, you want to basically deadlift the log bar up, squat down in the air, and place the log on your lap. There are a few guidelines and tips before you can successfully move to the next step.
First of all, you again want the log bar rotated with the handles pointing somewhat forward. Additionally, you want your forearms pointing upward, not backward.
Lastly, you want the log bar already against your lower chest. For this, your hips will need to be low enough in this step.
3. Racking the log
In this step, you get the log bar up to pressing height.
To do this you stand up, push your hips forward, and roll the log upward over your body until it is at shoulder/neck height. All in one smooth movement until your upper arms point forward.
Compared to a barbell overhead press you will stand much more backward, your head will be more backward, and your hands will be more forward due to the thick log.
4. Pressing the log
The last step, pressing the log, is somewhat easier when it comes to technique but typically the hardest for your muscles.
Press the log bar straight upward until your arms are slightly less than stretched. In the first part of the movement, you will need to lean back a bit and move your head back a bit.
Once the bar has passed your head, you want to move your head forward and position your body below the log for balance. Exactly how you want to press the log is your choice.
You can do a strict press (not moving the rest of your body besides your arms), a push press (going somewhat through your knees to generate extra power), or a jerk (“jumping” below the bar).
Next, you lower the log bar again to chest/neck height by reversing the press motion. That means moving your body and head back once the bar is at a certain height.
After that, you can keep doing presses, slowly lower the bar to the ground, or if your equipment and floor can take it, drop the log press bar to the ground.
Log press muscles worked
The muscles worked with log presses are different for each step but some muscles will have to work harder compared to their relative strength than others throughout the movement.
Log presses will mainly be challenging for your deltoids (especially the front part), triceps, trapezius, forearm muscles, and likely the scapular muscles to stabilize your shoulders.
Additionally, muscles like your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, core muscles, biceps, and latissimus dorsi will have to do some work too but to a lesser extent.
While the log press definitely looks and feels different, muscles are still muscles.
To grow and strengthen your deltoids, triceps, and trapezius you have to work these muscles with enough pressure, reps, and sets.
If you do these things right, the log press can help you build nice amounts of muscle, power, and/or endurance.
Log press benefits
Besides the typical resistance training benefits, this uniquely shaped bar and the exercise that comes with it also offer somewhat more unique positive effects. Some of these are:
- Easier to use a safe upper arm angle: A technique attention point for shoulder presses is pointing your upper arms somewhat forward. The neutral handles of log press bars guide your upper arms to these angles.
- Can reduce injury risk: The extra shoulder stabilization muscle engagement from log presses can lead to more strengthening in these areas. In turn, this tends to reduce your shoulder injury risk.
- Balance & coordination: Learning and doing log presses can be hard in terms of balance and coordination. By challenging yourself in these areas to safe extents, you can improve these skills.
- Adds variety: Log presses can be a fun way to switch up the standard shoulder workouts. For the right people, this can make it easier to stay consistent with their exercise routines.
As you can see, log presses are not good to prepare for strongman meets. They offer valuable benefits too.
After watching a strongman do log presses you likely understand that this exercise can also be challenging for your body in areas like your shoulders, wrists, elbow, and lower back.
You definitely want to warm up well before and implement a good technique in log press workouts.
Even then, not everyone wants to do this exercise. If you can’t do something like a dumbbell shoulder press without issues, you likely don’t want to do log presses either.
Is the log press a good exercise?
The log press can be a good exercise for working your deltoids, trapezius, triceps, shoulder stabilization muscles, and a variety of other muscles.
Additionally, log presses will likely help improve your balance and coordination.
You could also like variety in your workout programs and/or want to prepare for specific competitions.
In these cases, the enjoyment you get out of log presses can be worth the extra equipment requirements.
One thing to note is that log presses can be technically challenging and hard on certain body parts.
You want to be careful when trying out this exercise to get the log press benefits without downsides.