Strongman Robert Oberst’s Tips For How to Be an Elite Log Lifter

The former American log lift record holder guides you through a plan to your next log lift PR.

2021 World’s Strongest Man competitor Robert Oberst is one of the best in the sport when it comes to overhead events. As a former American log lift record holder, he knows his way around cleans and overhead presses. As he has done previously, focusing on front squats and bench press, he took to his YouTube channel to share some form tips.

He recently shared his tips on improving the log lift technique effectively and why his mechanics during the movement are the way they are. He also discusses how to approach a log lift properly for competition and how the lifter should feel during each part of the rep.

We are going to break down all the details he laid out, but if you have not yet had the chance to see Oberst’s video, you can check it out below courtesy of his YouTube channel:

[Related: Andrea Thompson Sets Log Lift World Record]

Mimic Competition Standards

The first thing that Oberst is adamant about is replicating in the gym what you expect to do in competition. For example, if you are going to compete in a log lift event where the log will be cleaned off of pads (so the athlete can drop the log safely after the press), then train with the pads. Likewise, if you’ll be cleaning the log from the floor, position the log on the floor in training.

The same idea goes for all facets of your setup in training. Know the log’s width, the height of the log, and the distance between the handles of the log that you will use during your competition. Try to get your hands on a log with the same (or at least similar) specs. (Note: Many strongman organizers list the specific brand and style of equipment that they plan on having in competition.)

Log Lift Technique

There are essentially three steps to every log lift: the tuck, the clean, and the press. Here is how Oberst moves through each step for a technically flawless rep.

The Tuck

To initiate the press, you’ll clean the log from the floor and then sit down with it in your lap. Oberst says he sees many strongmen and strongwomen hold the log too far down their quads in the lap position. Instead, the log should be tucked tightly against the hips.

Not tucking the log into the hips can be a problem the same way that a deadlift is more difficult if the barbell is further away from your midfoot. Additionally, the further away the log is from your hips, the easier chance it has of slipping.

When you stand up, push your hips forward, so that when you come down, it’s nice and tight.

Oberst uses his upper back to pull the log into place, so they are snug against his hips. You should be able to relax in that squat position with the log. He calls the tuck a “recovery position.” If you can’t “hang out” with the log tucked against your hips, it’s likely not tucked tight enough.


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A post shared by Robert Oberst (@robertoberst)

[Related: Rob Kearney Sets 475-Pound American Log Lift Record]

The Clean

Once you are in a position to clean the log from the hips to the shoulders, shift to a standing position by thrusting your hips and “squeezing your glutes all the way through.” As the log moves from your hips to your shoulders, your elbows come up high and tight, and your wrists should be stiff.

[Be] extremely violent with this. As you pop up, it’s as though you are punching through the log.

The idea of being “violent” with the log is one Oberst repeats multiple times. Do not move the log gingerly up to the shoulders. The aggression on the clean should be such that it’s just shy of the log connecting with your mouth.

The Press

Once the log is at the shoulders with the elbows high and tight, the trajectory of the log during the press should be “through your nose.” This cue is intended to help move the log in a straight vertical line so that it does not move in front of you, where it could unsettle your balance and cause the log to fall forward.


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A post shared by Robert Oberst (@robertoberst)


[Related: How Strongman Oleksii Novikov Trains Before Competition]

Training Plan

Oberst shared how he would go about training for five weeks to hit a log lift PR at the end of it.

Weeks One and Two

Oberst says to start by training the clean and his press twice a week with two to three sets using approximately 80 percent of your one-rep max (1RM). You should also perform accessory work that focuses on the biceps, triceps, and back. To finish that first workout each week, Oberst suggests performing two to five cleans every minute on the minute (EMOM) for eight to 12 minutes.

For the second workout, Oberst suggests doing higher volume at a slightly lower weight using a rack (eschewing the clean to focus on the press). He recommends four to eight sets of eight to 12 reps using about 70 to 75 percent of your 1RM, focusing on perfect form.

You’re not trying to hit numbers, you’re trying to be a better presser.

Once you have completed the number of sets that feel within your capacity (i.e., not “blowing out your back” while not leaving too much in the tank), drop the weight to about 50 percent of your 1RM and perform three to five sets of cleans to failure.

Week Three

Oberst would deload the first workout of week three while maintaining the same rep range as weeks one and two. For example, if that first workout each week was with 80 percent of your 1RM, drop it to 70 percent. For the EMOM, lower the weight by about 20 percent but up the volume. Instead of two to five reps, do four to 10 reps.

For the second workout in week three, perform three to four sets of two reps with 90 to 94 percent of your 1RM. If you can’t perform two reps, the weight is too heavy. On that same day after these sets, drop the weight to 40 percent of your 1RM and perform three sets to failure.

[Related: Way Too Early 2021 World’s Strongest Man Predictions]

Week Four

For the final week before shooting for a PR, Oberst suggests repeating the workouts from weeks one and two with a slightly lighter weight but focusing on explosiveness. For the second workout of week four, use between 94 and 98 percent of your 1RM but do not go to failure.

Oberst advocates not giving into ego at this point if you are feeling super strong. If you are lifting just shy of your PR and believe you could lift over your PR earlier than expected, don’t. Trust the process and allow your body to peak at the end of this plan. 

Train smart and maintain your confidence.

On the last workout of week four, aim for four to six sets of singles with 75 percent of your 1RM and the same EMOM as before.

Week Five

Choose which day you will attempt your PR, don’t overtrain beforehand, and eat a good meal the night before. Walk into the gym knowing that you have done the work to prepare your body to hit the goal weight.

More Strongman Technique Tips

If you are interested in some of the other technique sessions Oberst and other strongmen have shared, you can check those articles out below:

Featured image: @robertoberst on Instagram