Lumberjack Athlete Training

A quick survey of the professional competitive lumberjack ranks on the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Series shows a collection of athletes that may belong in the NFL, NBA or holding down a spot at your local tavern. Some of these men tip the scales near 300 pounds and can squat your car. Others tower over 5-foot-6-inches and have wing spans measured in yards. Still others may be sitting next to you right now, you think they are playing on Facebook but they are watching training footage. Regardless of what they look like, these competitors are specialized athletes who work long and hard to hone their craft. They do this so they can cut through a 19” log in less than 12 seconds, or cut a 13” log in half in less than 14 seconds. Daily preparation varies between competitors based on their age, profession and priorities, but there are some common themes.

There is no workout that duplicates the athletic diversity of the six chopping and sawing disciplines that compose the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series. Whatever else a competitor does to prepare for the season, he must find time every week working in his chipyard practicing the disciplines. Somewhere, either in a backyard, behind a friend’s place or in the woods, competitors have a stage set up to practice the six disciplines. This includes stands for the underhand chop, the standing block chop, a springboard pole and a sawing station. A practice session may focus on one discipline, like cutting hundreds of single buck cookies or springboard pockets, or you may run through all disciplines. Sometimes these last for a few hours after work, or it may run all day if other competitors come to visit.

To complete all this chopping and sawing, competitors also have a huge woodpile of freshly cut logs. Great care is taken to harvest, transport and store fresh, wet wood so practice cuts more closely resemble race cuts. For competitors who work in forestry, keeping the log pile well-stocked is just part of a day’s work. For others, removing trees for friends, contacting local loggers or working with local tree service companies help them always have logs to chop.

Many competitors, like Arden Cogar, Jr., also invest time and energy in more traditional weight room training in the form of squat, deadlift, clean and jerk and the snatch, in addition to explosive kettlebell movements. STIHL TIMBERSPORTS requires full body strength, endurance and control to complete the chopping and sawing in an approximately two-hour contest at full throttle. These lumberjack events are physically taxing in different ways that require slightly different training in the gym. The more marathon springboard chop requires jumping and speed to climb the tree and keep the axe moving for 45 to 60 seconds at a time. The single buck requires rotational power, but for a much shorter duration.

Regardless of how they appear away from the stage, STIHL TIMBERSPORTS athletes spend countless hours working on their strength, balance, endurance and technique to rip fast cuts when the chips are down. This time is a mixture of hours in the gym, as well as actually swinging axes and running saws. It consumes their time and thoughts whether they are working in the woods or putting on a tie for their day job, from sun up to sun down, 365 days a year.