When the average Joes and Janes think of strongman competitions there are events that always jump to mind, “Oh, it’s the competition where guys and gals flip cars, pull trucks, lift rocks, and press logs.” Yes, these are all staples of strongman competitions, but there are many other movements that are performed within the staples. Some movements have variations for the purpose of differing training stimuli as well as individual preference, and today, I will explain one of those variations within the log press: The Viper Press.
The Viper Press is a variation of the log clean and press where instead of stopping the movement after cleaning the log, the viper press requires an athlete to instead transition from the log clean straight into the press with no cessation of the movement. The main reason this log variation is used in both competition and training is to save time during medleys and reps on timed events in contests.
The Viper Press — though also used in the past — became more popular as a training tool when strongman superstar Derek Poundstone was seen doing them in training and kept destroying his competition during pressing events. His explosive hips and synergy in movement between his upper and lower body strength was clearly evident amongst his competition.
Training this variation is a great way to improve explosive power, muscular endurance, spacial awareness, and muscular synergy. All of these factors are components of effective physiological preparedness.
How to Perform the Log Viper Press
The start of the Viper Press is very similar to a standard log clean and press. To perform this movement, the person should start with the log rotated forward positioning the handles at about 45 degrees. This will allow for proper placement of the log during the movement.
The individual will then take a strong grip on the handle and bend at the hips and knees while keeping the back as neutral (set) as possible. The movement is initiated by pushing through the legs while simultaneously rowing the log onto the thighs, ending up in a squat position. With the back/torso now in a flexed position, and the elbows high and flared out, the athlete should then focus on pulling the log into the upper abdomen.
As the log rolls up the torso, through the use of violent hip extension, the athlete must then drive their elbows through the log as quick as possible. Use the momentum of the clean portion of the lift to instantly and seamlessly transition into a pressing motion. Finally, the athlete will lock out their elbows and finish with the head through and torso stable. This is similar to performing a muscle snatch with a barbell.
How to Program the Log Viper Press
Including the Viper Press into your own or an athlete’s training does not have to be complicated. First, one has to determine the training goal. Are you as a coach, looking to develop explosive power, build more strength, or train muscular endurance with the use of the viper press as a conditioning tool?
For those of you who are looking to use it for speed, treat it similar to dynamic/speed strength lifts. To focus on speed, try weights sitting between 65-80% of your 1-RM. As a coach, you need to be aware of what the athlete needs and adjust their weight accordingly. Start at the lower range on these percentages and work up. For sets and reps, prescribe a higher set range with a lower rep range. Think: 6-8 sets of 2-3 reps.
Maximal Strength and Power
For the max power and strength end of the spectrum, aim to be in the 80-92% range of your 1-RM. Focus on precise and clean form when performing repetitions. Program between 1-3 reps during training to build strength as well as consistency with heavy percentages. The use of 3-5 working sets at this percentage can help decrease the change of injury due to fatigue.
For endurance, I also like to have athletes train around 75-85% so they can also work on strength endurance. Have a set amount of time ranging from 30 to 90 seconds. Have the athlete perform as many repetitions as possible in that given time frame. Always start on the lower end of the percentage spectrum so that the athlete can develop conditioning to the time and become comfortable when performing it.
You can utilize a variety of strategies when implementing this endurance style of training. Typically, I recommend 1-4 sets when training a strength endurance. Utilizing a single set of endurance style trainin can be effective after an athlete has already performed their training in the above mentioned power and strength spectrum. If endurance is the sole focus, then use 2-4 sets.
Depending on individual athletes and personal preferences you can increase intensity set to set by increasing the time on each one while simultaneously decreasing the percentage. On those same lines, you can start at the longer end of the time frame with a lower percentage and as time decreases set to set increase the weight.
With this you should have a good base to draw from to when implementing the Viper Press into your training. The Viper Press is an extremely useful total body training tool that can address the whole strength spectrum. So load up that log and give it a go!
Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Feature image from Rogue Fitness YouTube channel.