“Alls ya need to do to get strong is yer knee bendin’, yer bar liftin’, and yer bar pressin’.”

We got most of everyone’s PR’s in our comments the other day. If you haven’t done that, you can post them today. However, Friday is now going to be known as PR Friday. Post the improvements you made throughout the week whether they be in weight lifted, reps, bodyweight increase, or eating PR’s. If you made some kind of improvement this week towards getting stronger or yoked, I wanna hear about it.

Note: Somebody tell Anthony from Washington state that he should have already gained 5 pounds. Also, Scott from the Inner City Gym needs to send me an e-mail (forgot to get it in Washington).


The rest of the post was written by Gant.

Today’s spotlight is on Arden Cogar, Jr., a Timbersports champion and a hell of a nice guy. He has been 70’s Big since, well, pretty much the seventies. He was 14 when he squeezed himself into a size 48 jacket. As an adult, he sports a 13.5 shoe and wears a size 13 ring (which would be a collar to most 90s small guys).

Arden has been a fixture on the professional lumberjack circuit for over 30 years. If you haven’t been watching manly programming (perhaps you’re 90s small and have been watching Glee), you might have missed ESPN’s Stihl Timbersports, a series of lumberjack events that challenge competitors to chop, cut, and saw their way through white pine as fast as they can.
To date, Arden has won 47 world titles in lumberjack sports, including the U.S. Stihl Timbersports Championships three times in the past four years. He is the current Captain of the U.S. National Lumberjack Team.

He came into this the old fashioned way, through his family. His 75 year old father, himself a legend in the sport, is a retired logger who spent over 50 years in the woods. Arden Sr. instilled a work ethic in his son that sticks with him today.
In addition to his dad, his four uncles participated in Timber Sports for many years, and they passed it on to their sons. Currently, there are over 20 members of the Cogar family who are active in some facet of Timber Sports.

Standing Block Chop

Standing Block Chop

How long have you been competing in lumberjack sports?

Last weekend I wrapped up my 31st year competing in professional lumberjack sports. I started at age 8 when my father put modified chain saws in my hands. I started chopping and sawing when I was 12. I became the youngest participant ever in ESPN’s Stihl Timbersports Series at age 17.

What is your training background?

I started lifting weights when I was 12. I competed in my first bench press contest when I was 14. I competed in my first three lift powerlifting contest when I was 17. I stopped power lifting when I realized I would have needed to turn to “the dark side” in order to remain competitive. For the next 14 years, I did “power bodybuilding” until I was introduced to Crossfit. I then started doing more “metabolic conditioning” workouts to make myself fitter and tougher. Through Crossfit I fell in love with the Olympic lifts. Through that love for the Olympic lifts, I was introduced to my current coach, Randy Hauer, who has completely revamped my entire training protocol.

Through Randy’s diligence, I’ve made more progress in the past two years (as a middle aged man), than I did in the previous 20. I’ve turned my event training sessions into my metabolic conditioning sessions and my weight training is now speed and speed strength based.

Editor’s note: Before any of you Crossfitters think Arden is building off-season GPP by doing Fran, snatching PVC, or taking pictures of himself doing handstands in public, think again. Here is Arden’s idea of a conditioning workout:


How has this change in training philosophy helped you?

My weight training has gone from “grunting and getting hurt” as I settled into middle aged to “halfway grunting for a week, resting a week but still lifting; three quarters grunting for a week, resting a week but still lifting; 4/5’s grunting for a week, resting a week but still lifting, back to half way grunting.” Training this way has allowed me to make more progress in the past two years (at age 38 and 39) than I did the previous 20 years combined.

Moreover, Coach Randy has done the same sort of lay out with my event training, that keeps me chomping at the bit to train more than what he’s allotted for me. The heaviest times of the year are the Fall and Spring, but I only do what he says and it has kept my performances ever improving.
I love it. I’m totally looking forward to my 40s and I think the sky’s the limit.

How do you train for your sport?

My training for Timber Sports events is sports specific. We have various disciplines in the sport that require use of the axe, the crosscut saw, and the chainsaw. I train those events as though I were doing them in competition. I do not however, use my best equipment when I train. I do try and simulate the events that I’m training for – in other words, If I am cutting a 12″ white pine at a contest and I estimate it will take me 16 hits and 15 seconds to cut the log – I will train the log to be cut in 16 hits and 15 seconds.

The volume of my training and the “perceived intensity” of my training varies depending upon the time of the year. When in my off season my volume is higher, but my “perceived intensity” is lower. When the season rolls around my perceived intensity increases as I get myself race ready; my volume of training drops somewhat. During the season, my perceived intensity is still high, but my overall volume of event work is limited.

Numbers time. Any cool feats of strength you’d like to talk about?

I’m a natural puller. I could deadlift a lot of weight at a very young age. The most I’ve ever singled was 775 (I can do a lot more, but I have no interest in trying). Last Christmas I pulled 615 for 9. My goal is to do it for 10 this Christmas. I’ve back squatted well into the 600s. And, at 39, I can still dunk a volley ball; not bad considering I’m very under tall. I can also still do 20 consecutive dead hang pull ups with little or no effort (and never training them).

You have recently started training the Olympic lifts. How are those going?

Currently, my best squat clean is about 150 to 155 (but I can see that increasing quite a bit as my technique improves), my best power snatch is about 110 (I’m still mastering the squat snatch), my best overhead squat is about 140.

How does one become a professional lumberjack?

Getting involved in Timber Sports is an expensive endeavor. If a person is willing to invest the money in the equipment and the time into training, they can be very successful in the sport. The contests are all over the world and we have various levels of competition (novice, intermediate, professional and masters). There are also events completely and exclusively for women and younger athletes. The axes cost about $400 a piece; the crosscut saws cost about $1,500 a piece; and the modified chainsaws cost about $4,000 a piece. So it’s in expensive endeavor. But the contests offer prize money that can result, through diligence and training, enough placings to pay for the equipment and the costs of travel.

Right now, there is a big push on the collegiate level by Stihl which has resulted in a great influx of very good young competitors. Stihl has recently sponsored the Collegiate Timbersports Series which is aired on ESPN U. There are over 400 universities and colleges in the United States that have Forestry programs that have Forestry Clubs and Woodsmens’ Teams. These college lumberjacks or timber sports athletes are building the future of U.S. Timbersports.

For a person who’s not in college, the best way to learn about the sport is to contact someone such as myself or another professional. Most of us are very wiling to share what we know about the sport because we see it as a hobby that we want to preserve and share with the world. Tons of people have offered to pay me to train them and I’ve turned it down every time because it would take the fun of the sport for me. My father trained hundreds of competitors over the years. He told them everything he knew because he wanted them to beat him. He wanted them to make him work harder so he would become better. I live by the same adage.

I’ve noticed that not all lumberjacks are 70s Big. What kind of physical skills do you need for this sport?

The physical attributes for good Timber Sports athletes are all over the place. While physical size is a plus, it is not the true indication of success. My father was 5’7’ 200 pounds during his prime years in the sport. I’m not much taller at 5’11″. A lot of today’s top athletes are very tall and rangy. One of the best axemen in the world is 5’10″ and weighs 135 – or a little over 60 kilos. I weigh nearly twice as much as he does, yet he can drive an axe in as deeply as I can. I am much physically stronger, but his timing and technique is absolutely perfect.

The true test is perfecting technique while continuing to become stronger and more athletic. That is my challenge and one I hope to master in the upcoming years.

What should the readers know about Timbersports?

Timber Sports is a wonderful family oriented sport that has it’s roots in hard work and sweat. Many people who watch a Timber Sports event say, “wow, that looks like a lot of work.” Simply put, it is. It’s great fitness and a great event that celebrates a rich logging and lumbering history that is the basis for the infrastructure of what is today the United States.

Thanks for talking with us. Any parting thoughts?

To quote a good friend and 2006 World’s Strongest Man, Phil Pfister, – “Alls ya need to do to get strong is yer knee bendin’, yer bar liftin’, and yer bar pressin’.”

Working the hotsaw at the 2009 finals.

Working the hotsaw at the 2009 finals.

75 thoughts on “Arden

  1. So along with a squat PR of 395 today, I”ve got a short story. At the end of the 2nd set of 5, on the way to rack my upper back rounded somewhat and only one side of the barbell made it into the rack. I was stuck. Being completely spent I struggled for awhile trying to get the other side racked, but was not immediately successful. There was a guy not but 3 ft to the right of the rack who was doing what amounted to masturbation with a medicine ball, and another guy doing some pointless exercise with 20 lb dumbbells 3 ft to the left. Neither one made any attempt to stop what they doing and help raise the one side of the bar those last couple inches. I also noticed the employee watching the weight room was standing across the room watching with a concerned look on his face but not moving (regardless, he shouldn”t have had to). I decided I wasn”t going to get crushed and managed to rack it, while causing a pretty good strain in my right shoulder. I was ready to beat the dumb ass with medicine ball, but unfortunately (fortunately?) I was raised to keep such grievances to myself. Lesson learned — general humanity is unreliable. Got a kindred spirit to spot my uneventful 3rd set. Short term goal of 405 squat for 3 sets of 5 next week is very much in sight.
    Had I stuck religiously to the program this whole year and ate properly, these numbers would be much better. Also, the daily 5k calories has become inadequate and will be upped today.
    22 y.o., 5” 11″
    Jan to present
    for 5 reps, 3 across
    BW: 165 -> 220
    BS: 165 -> 395
    BP: 135 -> 212.5
    P : 95? -> 137.5
    DL: 185 -> 405 (one set)
    DL is temp on hold so all effort is on squat short term goal (yea yea I”m a puss).

  2. I”m using 5/3/1 as well, and have been pleased with the progress. Hard work on the basic barbell lifts and hard work in your 3 basic food groups of meat, milk and booze will work every time.

    As for me, I”m 23 years old, 6”5″ and weigh in at 265 lbs of hair and testosterone.
    Today I squatted an easy 405×12.

  3. 20/m/6”4/200lb

    BW PR – 200lb as of today
    Just starting linear progression..

    Squat – 185x3x5
    Press – 115x3x5
    PC – 155x5x3
    Bench – 165x3x5
    Deadlift – 305x1x5

  4. Justin – Do you think it would be possible to create a coaches list one day for this site? I know that you guys travel for the barbell seminars and are probably already familiar with quite a few good coaches that you could recommend. I know personally I””d really like to work with a good coach in California, even if I had to travel just to train for the day.

    A directory of coaches will be created as they pass the new Starting Strength Seminar. This will benefit both lifters and coaches as we try and make an army of strong people.


  5. @Justin, I wasn””t being sarcastic at all. Just confused. I have no strength or athletic background at all. I thought I was doing something wrong that after 6 weeks I””m only squatting 145. But I see now. Thanks for clarifying.

    Depending on your age, weight, and recovery, you should be able to add five pounds to your squat every workout until the second quarter of 2010.


  6. Ok, I give. Will someone please explain what a “faux hawk” is. It seems to me that either you have a mohawk or you don”t. Are these people who shave the sides of their skulls but have never listened to the Dead Kennedys? Or are they using fancy hair products instead of the more traditional egg white and sugar solution or toothpaste?

  7. 5”11″, everything is for 3 sets of 5 across except power cleans which are 5 sets of 3 across and deadlifts for 1 set of 5.
    On Dec. 19th 2008:
    Weight: 149lb
    Squat: 185lb
    Deadlift: 185lb
    Press: 65lb
    Power Clean: 105

    Within the last month or so:
    Weight: 185lb (+36lbs)
    Squat: 260lb (+75lbs)
    Deadlift: 345lb (+160lbs)
    Press: 125 (+60lbs)
    Power Clean: 165 (+60lbs)

    I only tried to gain weight from 12/19/08-2/19/09 and now I”m on another gaining cycle that started 10/15 (put on 10lbs in the last month). I”m shooting for adult male status by the end of the year but it might be close. I”d also like to deadlift 405 by the end of the year, we”ll see.

  8. Really, if this is going to become another Crossfit bashing site, I””m just not gonna come back here. There is enough of that workout snobbery on and tnation. I thought this site was going to be about getting people strong and eating more than is generally recommended. Crossfit has been a large part of my life, and without it I probably would not have found Coach Rip or this site.I””m not going to expound on its virtues and how it has brought many deluded people closer to actual training. So, if we””re gonna continue this elitist nit pick horse shit, I will have to bid you all fucking adeau. And its a damn shame too, I really thought this would be a fun place without all the bullshit that goes on with other fitness related websites; like how the crossfit message board has slowly devolved into shit. Oh well. I””ll be around, but if this kind of stuff is going to be the norm then I will be more than slightly disappointed.

    1. If you have read any comments by Gant or I, then you would know that we are not interested in “bashing CrossFit”.
    2. However, CrossFit is not a program that will best increase performance. There is some kind of reason you are on this website.
    3. Strength is the fundamental capacity for any athletic endeavor. It maintains precedence over all other physical attributes because those attributes rely on strength.
    4. Teaching a mindset of training hard, training correctly, and eating correctly for performance are important to improve strength. This is in stark contrast to the “badass mentality” that has developed in an attempt to be different than everyone else. Performing a snatch improperly, ripping hands, and dropping a bar on your head in the bench press have become “cool” because it makes the person feel “hard”. Instead, we want to emphasize progress in useful training as well as experience in sport.

    I hope this clears any problems you may have had with the site. And really, compared to some forums on the internet, this is quite civil.


  9. New Squat PR today:

    460×1 up from 425 last spring. Exciting.

    Bench Press slowly creeped up to almost 245x5x3 (missed last rep of 3rd set) my old record and not bad for an Oly lifter.

    Pull-ups are all to shit now compared to before now that I”m about 205. Still +50# for 3×5

  10. hit a PR on Squat Yesterday


    19 years old, 6”0″ 175 lbs (yes resident skinny bitch)

    Goin for 305 tomorrow. Bench is at 205, Press at 130, Dead at 350 and P-Clean at 175. Am now on Advanced linear programming, so deadlifting every 5 days instead of every other day. Will probably go back to 10 lb jumps on it now that im doing it less frequently. Will be going for 305 squat, 132 press and 180 pc tomorrow.


  11. Age: 18
    Height: 5”6
    BW: 175

    I”m doing 5/3/1 to try and get 70′’s big. All I care about is strength. Started actual lifting this past January. All of these numbers are PR’’s to when I started to program 5 months ago

    Beginning lifts for 5/3/1 and BW was about 155.

    Press: 85×7
    Deadlift: 235×10
    Bench: 130×11
    Squat: 200×12

    Recent lifts:
    Press: 105×7
    Deadlift: 295×5
    Bench: 180×6
    Squat: 260×3

    I love this site and all the great training vids posted. Thank you Justin and Gant for making this website

  12. Age: 21
    Height: 5”6″
    BW: 165ish

    Little bit of history:
    I hadn”t touched a barbell before Feb. 2009 when I started CrossFit. I had a lot of trouble doing the WODs at respectable weights, so my coach told me to start focusing on the olympic lifts. Starting in January, I plan on doing strictly starting strength and GOMAD because I”ve been having some trouble eating enough to gain weight while I”m doing CrossFit WODs and olympic lifts at the same time.

    DL: 235# -> 315#
    BS: 155# -> 250#
    FS: 130# -> 245#
    Snatch: 95# -> 175#
    C&J: 115# -> 210#
    Bodyweight: 155# -> 145# -> 165#

    Haven”t really done much pressing, but that”s going to change. Especially since my jerk is starting to limit what I can C&J.

    Also, I”m in Colorado and my coach said it”s harder to put on weight at altitude. Does anyone have any experience with this?

  13. Oh and Jason,

    This might be a stretch, but since you””re compiling a list of gyms and coaches that are 70””s Big friendly, what about a list of doctors?

    I””ve been dealing with some weightlifters”” migraines lately and I””ve had a hell of a time trying to find a doc who doesn””t give me the “if it hurts, don””t do it” answer. I””ve decided that the migraines were just a result of overtraining/growing pains, but dealing with doctors who aren””t familiar with training is frustrating as hell.

    No list of doctors. We”re not going to assume the fact-finding responsibility or the liability for that one.


  14. JEP:

    If you”ve just started out, and you tend to get them during squats, this is quite common. Exertion headache. I got them when first starting squats and it is one of the most intense headaches I”ve ever had the misfortune of getting. It lasts a couple of days. The two things that bring them on during this time are squats/exertion and… sex/rubbing one out. They”re not nice. But they tend to stop after about a week.

    Just always be cautious though. There is always the potential that it could be something far more sinister. You must decide for yourself and/or seek medical advice.

    If you Google “squats headache” or something similar, you”ll get tons of hits.

    Good luck.

  15. @JEP

    I used to get those too … they would come on during my warm up real strong and then linger for the rest of the day.

    Turns out that a few good massages by a knowledgeable therapist cleared it up. It was caused by restricted blood flow to the brain due to muscle and small tissue tension in my shoulders and neck.

    Hope that helps!!!

  16. Arden is my new hero. His lumberjack skills in my town would make me a star.
    No PR”s, I”m sick, it blows. Still managed to get down a XL pizza in one sitting regaurdless of no appettite. Probably not a good idea, didn”t feel to well after.
    CF is great for some people, but scrawny dudes running around and lifting in vibrams is just wrong.

  17. @SMed

    I only started getting within the past three months after doing CF and O-lifts since Feb.

    The funny thing is that they were never triggered while I was actually squatting, snatching, or cleaning. It always happened while I was warming up – climbing a rope, walking lunges, overhead squats. One happened when I was trying to get a 47″ box jump.

    One of my sister is a nurse and my other sister”s mother in law is a neurologist, so I”m getting all checked out when I go home for the holidays.

    gannimal007 described it almost perfectly. When I first started getting them, all the muscles in my head and shoulders would cramp. I”d have to make an effort to blink and other weird stuff.

    Thanks for the input.

  18. Bluecheese, my girlfriend said to quit being a pussy. You are too sensitive about this stuff. No one is saying you can”t Fran your ass off. I found that funny and thought I would post it.

  19. Well, I Crossfit, not following SS directly apart from technique help. But I went GOMAD 2 months (maybe 2.5 can””t remember exactly) to help get some more muscle and jiggle in my wiggle.

    I went from 169 in September and I””m weighing in at 190 lbs. as of today (heaviest I””ve ever been.) Everything is stronger but my Pullups which are harder now that I jiggle more.

    Squat = 234 lbs.
    Deadlift = 308 lbs.
    OHPress = 110 lbs. (won””t go up for some reason)
    Beanch press = 165 lbs.
    Power clean = 143 lbs. (ugly at this weight, but up it went)

    We routinely find that pull-up numbers stay around the same number if not go up. Did you include them in the program properly?


  20. Thanks to everyone for the kind words. Gant”s got me sold. Don”t know if I”m 70s big or not. But I”ve got the facial hair and the glasses going for me. Plus I dig wearing high socks. Shorty shorts will be a ways down the road.


    All the best,

  21. Height: 6”1″
    Age: 32
    Weight: 217

    Squat: 275x3x5
    Deadlift: 345x1x5
    Press: 145x3x5
    Power Clean: 150x5x3(recently started and still learning poper form)
    Bench: 215x3x5

    Started at a very skinny fat 195 in April after years of very infrequent lifting so things are progressing nicely but a lot of room to improve.

    Keep up the great work on the site it is inspirational!

  22. Msupt,
    Thanks for the kind words. My daughters say I”m a “human version of a bulldog” or a “bald troll doll with a beard.” So if that qualifies, I”m guilty as charged.

    Had a great clean matrix session today. worked my weigh up to 115 for triples. Did a ton of reps. Feeling it now.

    All the best,

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