Log presses are not just impressive to look at, they work a variety of important muscles. Find out which ones will have the hardest time in what parts of the exercise.
From a high-level view, the muscles worked with the log press include the deltoids (main shoulder muscle), triceps, traps, scapular muscles, lats, core, forearms, biceps, quads, and glutes.
Of these, the deltoids (mostly the front and middle part), triceps, and trapezius muscles will typically have the hardest time.
This article will also go over the main muscles worked during each of the main parts of the log press exercise. If needed, you can watch the exercise demo below to visualize each of the steps better.
1. Getting the log in your lap
After loading your strongman log press bar, you have to get it to shoulder/neck height to be able to press it. As you can expect from such a big and heavy object, this requires you to go through a few steps.
The first one of these is getting the log in your lap. To do this you start standing in front of the log bar with feet at about shoulder width or slightly wider.
Next, grab the handles and do a combination of a deadlift and row with a straight back to get the bar as close to your stomach as possible with your elbows high.
Main muscles worked: Glutes, hamstrings, lats, lower back, traps, biceps, and forearm grip muscles
Something to note is that the load used for the log press will likely be relatively easy compared to what most of these muscles can move.
These muscles will have to work but likely not to the extent needed for optimal muscle growth.
2. Getting the log to shoulder height
Getting the log to shoulder/neck height does not simply involve a bicep curl. While your biceps will have to work to some extent, the goal is to make use of bigger and stronger muscles as much as possible during the clean part.
To do this you push your hips forward while rolling the log upward over your body until it is at shoulder/neck height.
Pushing the hips forward and standing up will mainly work your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and lower back. Additionally, core muscles like abs and obliques will work to keep your upper body upright enough.
While it is not the main press part of the exercise yet, your shoulder muscles will already have to work a nice amount in combination with wrist abduction muscles to roll the strongman log bar upward.
Your biceps will mainly have to work in an isometric (static) way to keep the angle of your elbow the same or smaller when rolling up the log during the clean.
Main muscles worked: Glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, core (all around), biceps, shoulders, and wrist abductor muscles
Similar to the previous step, most of the muscles involved in this clean part will likely not get challenged enough for muscle growth.
Even so, your shoulders and wrist abductor muscles will have to exert a decent amount of force relative to their strength.
3. Pressing the log
The last and main part of the log press exercise is pushing the log bar up. There is typically a small amount of leg muscle engagement to do a push press but not enough to mention in this step.
Pushing the strongman log bar up will mainly work your deltoids (shoulder), triceps, and trapezius muscles. More specifically, the front part of your deltoids.
The middle part of the deltoids too but somewhat less due to the neutral grip handles and the different upper arm angle that typically comes with that.
Additionally, compared to a regular barbell shoulder press you will have to engage your shoulder stabilizing scapular muscles more due to the increased imbalance a strongman log press bar causes.
Main muscles worked: Deltoids, triceps, trapezius, scapular muscles
The muscles involved in this main part typically have to work the hardest. Especially if you do a few repetitions without bringing down the log entirely.
Does the log press build muscle?
The way you build muscle in places like your shoulders and triceps is by engaging these muscles so that they get damaged enough.
This may sound counterintuitive but this damage makes it so your body repairs these muscles, and adds a bit more to be better prepared to exert similar efforts in the future.
That means that one of the benefits of the log press exercise is that it can help you build muscle if you use the right weight, do the right number of repetitions and sets, and give your body the right nutrients and enough rest in between workouts.
Is the log press good for shoulders?
The log press can be a good exercise for growing and strengthening shoulder muscles. More specifically, the front deltoids and trapezius. The neutral grip can also make it easier to keep your shoulders in a comfortable position.