Overhead press was never a strong suit of mine. When I was beginning in Strongman, it was actually my least favorite event mainly because I sucked at it. Over the years I learned new techniques in order to not only compete with the best, but BE the best. From barely pressing 150 lb overhead to now holding the Log Press record in America, it was a long journey of hard training, determination, and learning that got me to where I am today.
This past June, I reset the American Log Press record that I had originally broken in April 2019. Prior to April 2019, Robert Oberst held the American Log Press record for 4 years at a weight of 465 lb, but I was determined to beat it. Leading up to the 2019 Log Press Championships at Europe’s Strongest Man hosted by Giants Live, I was confident I could take the record. That is exactly what I did in front of 12,000 people. I pressed 471 lb (214 kg).
This year, World's Ultimate Strongman asked me to be a part of their Feats of Strength Series. This series lets Strongman athletes compete and break records during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was a welcomed task seeing as competitions were put on hold. Training began just a few weeks after the Arnold Strongman Classic. To be totally honest, I wasn’t terribly confident in my abilities to break the record at that time. I hadn’t trained heavy log press in months and, with only 5 weeks to train, it was certainly a daunting task.
I was programmed to press 400 lb for 6 singles in my first training session to prepare for the event. After an ugly 2 first reps, I missed the third and was completely disheveled. I had not missed a 400 lb log press in years! I re-grouped then finished the training session with 4 more ugly singles and put it behind me. My coach and I agreed that we needed to buckle down and hit this training harder than we ever have before. Ironically, that meant reducing the training volume to 3 times per week but increase the intensity of each session. This was my training split:
Heavy 2 board bench 4 x 3 (RPE: 9)
Heavy incline bench 4 x 6 (RPE: 9)
Upper body accessories
Back Squat (low bar, wide stance) 5 x 3 (RPE: 9)
Deadlift (conventional) 6 x 2 (RPE: 9)
Log Press 6 x 1 (at least 440 lb)
Seated DB Overhead Press 4 x 6 (no back support)
Barbell Bicep Curls x 100 reps
Shrugs x 100 reps
This was my typical weekly breakdown (with some variations on accessory movements) for the final 4 weeks leading up to my log press event. Each week I got more confident, faster, and stronger under that log. After my third training session on this new split, I hit 6 singles at 450 lb and it was that day I knew the record was going to be mine again. The week before the lift, I worked up to one heavy single, and I was told I had to press the current American Record—my all time personal best. I worked up to 471 lb and that made me feel as if I was on top of the world.
On the day of the event, everything was going perfectly. We were set to go live on ESPN at 12pm EST so I began my warm ups hitting 160 lb, 210 lb, 260 lb, 310 lb and then 360 lb. On my 360 lb lift, my coach, Derek Poundstone, looked at me and said, “Wow, that looks super fast! What was that, about 300 lb?” He was in shock when he saw it was actually 360 lb. Hearing that instilled a new level of confidence in me that I had never had before. After warm ups, we began the show and the nerves kicked in. Hearing the intro and seeing the cameras turn on was a thrill I will never forget. The first attempt was loaded… 420 lb. It went up effortlessly. The next planned weight was 445 lb, but Coach Poundstone decided to up it to 455 lb for a smaller jump into the final attempt. I got my grip, cleaned the log and never fully committed to the jerk. I hit the weight, but it was an ugly rep to say the least.
Going into the final attempt of 475 lb and a new American Record, I needed to brush off the previous attempt and really commit to hitting this weight. I stood at the log and waited for Zydrunas Savickas to give me the lift command. I picked the log into my lap, forced a strong clean, and as the log got onto my chest, I took a big breath and threw everything I had into that split jerk. Throwing the weight over my head, splitting underneath—the entire movement felt effortless. Getting that down command from Big Z cemented my name in the record books as one of the best of all time. Now, I am turning my attention to the Log Press World Record.