The LumberJack: Explosive Strength Done Right

“There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult”

Warren Buffet

If you were to ask one hundred personal trainers which muscle groups receive training priority by the majority of male gym goers, the vast majority of them would answer the “mirror muscles.”  Yeah, you know…chest, biceps and shoulders, muscles they can train while eye-f*cking themselves in the mirror.  Which is unfortunate, because the muscles on the posterior side of the body play an immense role in running and jumping.  Neglect to train your glutes and you’ll be lucky to jump over a puddle without getting your shoes wet.  Neglect your hamstrings and instead of sprinting down the track, you’ll find yourself stuck in a perpetual state of vertical oscillation…like Rush Limbaugh on a pogo stick.

When it comes to training the posterior muscles, one of our favorite devices is the LumberJack.

The LumberJack is the brainchild of Canadian Olympic weightlifting coach extraordinaire Pierre Roy, who devised it for training the posterior muscles in a manner unique from the Olympic lifts.  I was first introduced to the LumberJack in 2003, by Ben Prentiss, who wouldn’t let me leave his gym until I performed a few sets, just to get his point across.  On my two-hour drive home from Ben’s gym, I felt what could best be described as a “tightening” sensation across every one of my posterior muscles.  I bought one as soon as I got home.

The list of coaches who utilize the LumberJack in their training programs, reads like a Who’s Who of the strength and conditioning field:

While the LumberJack exercise has been described as a pull-through/power snatch combination, watch the video to fully appreciation both the simple and effectiveness of the motion.

Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning

Art Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Trophy, Stanley Cup, World Cup – 2004

What makes the LumberJack devastatingly effective, is the greater range of motion in which the posterior chain is engaged.  Additionally, due to the simple hip extension movement, some athletes find it easier to incorporate into their training than traditional Olympic lifts.

The following two protocols represent the most commonly utilized used when integrating the LumberJack into training programs.

Contrast Method

The contrast method involves supersetting two exercises: one heavy strength exercise and one light explosive exercise. The goal, is to use the first heavy strength exercise to stimulate a high level of fast twitch muscle fibers, which results in a higher power output during the second, lighter exercise.

Method 1

A1. Bent-Knee Deadlift Snatch Grip   6 sets x 3-5 reps  3-0-X-0 tempo 10 seconds rest

A2. LumberJack   6 sets x 3-5 reps 1-0-X-0 tempo  180 seconds rest

In this protocol, the low rep deadlifts ensure a higher number of muscle fibers are stimulated, in order to maximize the explosive strength levels achieved during the LumberJack exercise.  The LumberJack reps are kept low, to certify they are all executed with a high level of acceleration.

Method 2

A1. LumberJack   8 sets x 2-4 reps  1-0-X-0 tempo  10 seconds rest

A2. 30 m sprints   8 sets x 30 m    120 seconds rest

B. PNF Stretching, Hip Flexors 5 minutes

C. 60 m sprints  4 sets x 60 m 180 seconds rest

In this protocol, the LumberJack is utilized as the muscle fiber/CNS stimulating exercise, to potentiate the athlete’s hip extensor muscles for the 30 m sprints.

In Season Maintenance Program

A. LumberJack  4 sets x 4-6 reps  1-0-X-0 tempo  120 seconds rest

B1. Split Squats, Barbell  4 sets x 6-8 reps  5-0-X-0 tempo  90 seconds rest

B2. Lying Leg Curl 3 positions Dorsiflexed  4 sets x 4-6 reps 5-0-X-0 tempo  90 seconds rest

C1. Chin-ups Lean Away Supinated Grip  4 sets x 4-6 reps  5-0-1-0 tempo  90 seconds rest

C2. Bench Press 30° Incline Barbell Close Grip  4 sets x 6-8 reps  5-0-1-0 tempo  90 seconds rest

For this protocol, the LumberJack is utilized by National level shorttrack speedskaters to maintain strength and conditioning produced in the off-season.


Kettlebell Swings?

The most frequently asked question concerning execution of the LumberJack exercise is “Isn’t that just a kettlebell swing?”  Short answer: NO.

  • The LumberJack exercise is not a “swing,” but a combo move consisting of an explosive pull-through with a snatch towards the end of the concentric range of motion.
  • While a kettlebell swing utilizes a rotatory motion throughout its entire range of motion, the LumberJack employs a sudden drop of the hips towards the end of the concentric portion of the exercise.
  • The V-shaped handle of the LumberJack allows for  a “sternum-up” position, optimizing  shoulder and thoracic spine mechanics.
  • I have utilized loads up to 125 lbs on my LumberJack. Its easy-on, easy-off design, facilitates loading, especially when used with a group of athletes with varying strength levels.

As you can see, the LumberJack can be utilized for numerous protocols.  Along with its ease of use and compact size, the LumberJack challenges the posterior muscles in a manner uniquely its own.  And if the best coaches in the world use it to develop their athlete’s explosive strength, shouldn’t you?

The LumberJack we use, was designed and manufactured by Brady Powers.  Along with the LumberJack, Brady manufactures a great line of weightlifting and Strongman gear.  Visit his website

Order your LumberJack by January 24, and it’s shipped FREE.

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3 thoughts on “The LumberJack: Explosive Strength Done Right

  1. […] Lumberjack, invented by Pierre Roy, is a great tool and assistance exercise to the full Olympic lifts.  Due […]

  2. Krystyna says:

    You can certainly see your skills within the article you write.
    The arena hopes for even more passionate writers such as
    you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

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