Overhead Log Lift
Competing singly, athletes will lift a wooden log from the ground then raise it overhead as many times as possible in the time limit; returning the weight back to the floor in a controlled fashion before attempting to do the next lift.
The winner will be the one who completes as many lifts as possible within the time limit.
Weights: 115kg – Time limit: 75 seconds
WSM Log Lift history
The log lift was first seen in WSM in 1980, and is one of a number of tests of overhead strength which have been utilised since the first edition in 1977. Prior to 1980, the overhead lift was done with beer barrels of varying weights. Subsequently, a number of other overhead events have also been used. These have included, amongst others, rocks/stones of differing weights and dimensions, the ‘Viking Press’, axles, the safe lift, metal blocks and also giant dumbbells. Assorted barrels were also used again at various junctures. In its first year as a WSM event, oak logs were used, and these bore little resemblance to the wooden logs which would subsequently be used from the late 1990’s onwards. The format of the event was based on a ‘rising bar principle’, meaning that if a competitor completes a lift, the weight is increased, but if they fail they are eliminated. In the simplest of terms, to be victorious you needed to lift a heavier weight for a single lift than anyone else. Different sized logs were used for each lift, rather than simply adding weights to the lowest-weighted log. As such, as the weight increased, the logs got progressively longer and thicker, and thus the difficulty of the lift increased not only due to the actual weight of the implements, but also their dimensions. Not to mention that the earliest wooden logs were often not as evenly balanced as those which would be used in the future, adding further difficulty to the event.
Looking back to the first time the log lift was seen in WSM in 1980, the winning lift was 157kgs, with first place being shared by three-time WSM winner Bill Kazmaier and the Swedish strongman and powerlifter, Lars Hedlund. Using similar logs, and cementing himself as the man to beat in this discipline, Kazmaier came out on top in the following two years, with winning lifts of 163kgs and 161kgs respectively. The 163kg lift was a world record at the time.
By 1988 in Budapest, the logs were now made from pine, but the change in timber didn’t affect Kazmaier, who was victorious once again, with 170kgs being successfully pressed, increasing his record of seven years previously. Englishman Jamie Reeves took second spot with a lift of 165kgs. A year later in San Sebastian, on his way to the overall title that year, Reeves took first place with 170kgs, with Kazmaier having to settle for second. It is worth noting that both Reeves and Kazmaier were not only exceptional overhead lifters, but also phenomenally strong bench-pressers, and it came as no surprise to see them testing the limits of the log lift in the manner that they did. During this period, if a log lift was to be contested, it was almost a given that Reeves and Kazmaier would be battling for the top spot. These logs were extremely unwieldy and awkward to both clean and press and the achievements by both Reeves and Kazmaier should not be underestimated in regards to how they continually took the event to new levels.
Skipping ahead to 1997, the log lift moved away from maximum weight, with the aim now being to complete as many repetitions as possible within 60 seconds. Weighing 105kgs, the log itself was now longer, and the diameter was not as thick as the oak and pine logs used in previous years. Three competitors shared top spot on this occasion, each completing 12 successful lifts. Those men were eventual winner, the Finnish legend Jouko Ahola, the runner-up to Ahola in the WSM overall contest in 1997, Flemming Rasmussen, and the American Harold ‘Iron Bear’ Collins, who had placed second in the 1997 USA’s strongest man contest.
Unlike one year previously in Las Vegas, in 1998 this was a test of maximum weight to be lifted for a single repetition, harking back to the log lift events seen in WSM in the 1980’s. 1998 also saw the use of a variety of steel, as opposed to wooden logs, which were of a larger diameter than the previous year, but were shorter in length. Double WSM winner Jouko Ahola led the field with a lift of 147.5kgs, with the heaviest log (though it was not needed) registering 175kgs.
In the first of two visits to Zambia by WSM, in 2001 the log lift underwent changes to both the equipment and format. Wooden logs were back in use, but not like the oak and pine logs used by Kazmaier, Reeves et al. These were like the logs last seen in 1997. The key difference, however, was that they were 15kgs heavier, weighing in at 120kgs. Accompanying this, the competitors were now lifting in pairs, and the aim was maximum repetitions in 75 seconds. Canadian Hugo Girard, complete with hands shredded to pieces by the handles of the log, was still able to take the win with 11 successful lifts. 1998 winner Magnus Samuelsson placed second with 10 repetitions, with Svend Karlsen and Phil Pfister sharing third spot with 7 apiece.
WSM returned to Zambia in 2003, and the implements being used were steel logs. Aside from the change in materials, the event itself now used a format which hadn’t been seen before in a WSM final. There were four logs, each of a different weight, and they had to be lifted in ascending order within 75 seconds. The athlete able to lift all four in the quickest time would be the winner. The weight of the logs was; 110kgs, 125kgs, 155kgs, 165kgs. Of the ten finalists, four were able to lift the 165kg log, and they were a quartet of formidable competitors. Mariusz Pudzianowski took first place, ahead of Zydrunas Savickas, 2004 victor Vasyl Virastyuk, and the Latvian Raimonds Bergmanis. The closeness of the result is worthy of mention, with less than 3 seconds between first and third place. Two years later Pudzianowski triumphed once again in the log lift, this time in an event for repetitions, where he had 13 successful lifts, one ahead of the second placed man, the late Jesse Marunde.
In West Virginia in 2008, the log provided a backdrop for the ongoing battle for overall victory that year between Derek Poundstone and Mariuz Pudzianowski. Poundstone was trying to secure a first WSM title, whereas the Pole was aiming for a record fifth WSM crown. In keeping with the evolution of the event the wooden logs were now 140kgs and with competitors lifting in pairs, maximum repetitions within 75 seconds was the objective. To add to the drama, Poundstone and Pudzianowski went head-to-head, with Poundstone edging it, completing 11 repetitions to Pudzianowski’s 10, giving him the log lift spoils.
WSM was back in South Africa in 2010 revisiting Sun City, and accompanying the return was a shift to the rising bar format. The logs themselves were gargantuan pieces of timber, and the contest that followed saw possibly the finest display in the log lift in WSM history. As a measure of how much the event had evolved since its first outing 30 years previously, the opening weight was 155kgs and each one of the ten finalists successfully completed that lift. What followed was ultimately a battle between two athletes with unquestionable pedigree in overhead lifting. Zydrunas Savickas and Mikhail Koklyaev, with vastly differing styles and techniques, pushed the weight beyond the 200kg barrier. Koklyaev finished on 202.5kgs, whilst Savickas showed his outright supremacy on the log with a final lift of 210kgs, which looked remarkably comfortable for the Lithuanian. This now stands as the world record on this type of wooden log. (For good measure, ‘Big Z’, with a lift of 212.5kgs, is also the current world record holder on the steel log.)
Irrespective of the numerous variations of pressing events, it is difficult to argue with the assertion that the log holds pride of place as the king of the overhead lifts. As with many events, WSM has been fortunate enough to bear witness to some phenomenal feats of overhead lifting, from Kazmaier and Reeves, all the way through to Savickas and Koklyaev and it is a standard which shows no sign of declining.
July 4, 2011 | by WSM