Rob Kearney Gives Mat Fraser and Mal O’Brien Pressing Tips

Fraser and O'Brien are expanding their strength training into strongman with one of the world's best.

On July 3, 2022, Rob Kearney got back in the gym with five-time Fittest Man on Earth® Mat Fraser, and 2021 CrossFit Rookie of the Year Mal O’Brien to teach them how to log lift and heavy dumbbell press properly. Elite CrossFit competitions have seen an uptick in strongman-inspired events in recent years, including yoke walks and farmer’s carries. Before Fraser retired from competitive CrossFit, he anticipated more strongman in CrossFit as he had his own log in his garage gym.

Fraser admits to Kearney that Fraser carried around a jar of tacky for eight years during his CrossFit career just in case the Atlas Stones were ever introduced to a CrossFit contest. In Fraser’s updated home gym, where he is training O’Brien for the 2022 CrossFit Games scheduled for Aug. 3-7, 2022, in Madison, WI, Kearney returned to give them tips on how to perform overhead strongman movements correctly.

Forget everything you know about barbell cleaning.

Check out the full video below, courtesy of Fraser’s YouTube channel:

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Log Lift

Kearney breaks down the log lift into three sections when asked by Fraser to give him a rundown of the technique. The log lift consists of the pick, the clean, and the press.

The pick is deadlifting the log to the hips, also known as the lap position — a position of rest that the athlete explodes out of to roll the log to the chest. That log roll from the hips to the front rack position is the clean. The proper technique for the clean is to keep the elbows high with the back full engaged, so the log stays tight to the body.

The press is likely most recognizable to anyone who trains CrossFit as it is a slight dip in the legs for drive to press the log from the front rack position to the lockout overhead. Fraser practiced the technique on an empty log that weighed 90 pounds. The most considerable note Kearney gave Fraser regarded maintaining high elbows before the press to prevent the log from moving forward and throwing off balance.

Fraser hit 210 pounds without issue, then followed it with a successful, albeit shakier, 230-pound press. Fraser hit 230 pounds again while Kearney repped out 350 pounds and O’Brien successfully split-jerked 160 pounds.


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Heavy Dumbbell

The clean in the heavy dumbbell involves maneuvering the dumbbell to the rack position where it sits on the athlete’s delt before moving overhead. That rack position is a position of rest that requires the elbow to stay high. Like the jerk of a clean & jerk, much of the movement is about getting under the dumbbell rather than trying to strict press it. Functionally this involves a lot more leg drive to succeed in addition to shoulder strength.

Kearney has fine-tuned his heavy dumbbell technique to maximize efficiency, as many heavy dumbbell events in competition are for reps within a time cap (often 60 to 75 seconds). As such, when cleaning the dumbbell, he pulls it to his lifting belt for leverage and then shoots his hips forward to propel the dumbbell to the rack position. Using equipment this way is legal in strongman.

Fraser focused on his technique with the heavy dumbbell, and once he understood how the rack position was supposed to feel, he could convert clean reps. O’Brien appeared to have exceptional shoulder mobility with her heavy dumbbell but seemed unsure how to press it at first. Once she grasped that the dip before the press involved a slight rotation to generate force off the opposite leg, the clean reps came in.

The workouts for the 2022 CrossFit Games have not yet been released. However, if there are any strongman-inspired events in Madison, O’Brien might have a leg up on the competition as she’ll have training tips from Rob Kearney to lean back on.

Featured image: @mathewfras on Instagram