Athletes & Celebrities

How to Get Lumber-Jacked

Getting competitive with saws and swinging axes can build muscle and boost conditioning. Here’s how to get built like Bunyan.


Arden Cogar, Jr. never does cardio.

He doesn’t have to. At 5’10”, 275 pounds, the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS lumberjack athlete says he’s in the best physical shape of his life at 44 years old.

“Anyone who watches me cut an underhand log in 25 seconds knows I don’t need cardio,” says Cogar, one of STIHL TIMBERSPORTS’ premier athletes. “My coach in 2007 said ‘Why waste your time on a treadmill or running, when you can save that energy to condition yourself for events?’”

He competes in the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series, which features the top lumberjack athletes in the world competing in six events that test their skills in chopping wood with axes, and sawing through wood blocks with heavy chainsaws. Sure beats your normal day of picking stuff up and putting it down.

Cogar is currently training for the U.S. Championships in June, which he won in 2012, and earned second place in in 2013. But what kind of training goes into artfully dissecting lumber?


Cogar and his fellow lumberjack athletes go through rigorous training regimens, mixed in with actual event training, to prepare themselves for grueling competition. The best athletes train year round and ramp things up about six weeks before the competition, making this time the peak time for hardcore training.

Cogar, who is a former bodybuilder, has a strict workout regimen that features powerful Olympic lifts throughout the week, and a day dedicated strictly to practicing events he’ll compete in. He, and other athletes like Chris Bradshaw – a 6’2”, 310-pound hulk and one of the biggest athletes on the Series – believe the focus needed for heavy strength training is similar to the focus needed to succeed on the Series.

That’s not the only way to be successful though. David Moses, a West Coast athlete, is 5’11” and 255 pounds but doesn’t use the traditional gym workout to train. Since 2011, Moses has used a modified CrossFit workout to prepare for the Series. Moses was a fourth place finisher at the Championships last year.

The workouts these athletes endure are much different than the ones a prototypical athlete goes through. Muscle & Fitness caught up with Cogar and Moses in separate interviews to discuss how they train and prepare for one of the most athletically taxing events in the world.


M&F: How long have you been training for STIHL TIMBERSPORTS?

Cogar: I’ve been competing in the Series since 1987 and actively involved in strength training since 1985.

Moses: I’ve been a lumberjack athlete for about 15 years.

M&F: What’s your typical workout look like?

Cogar: The way I view a timbersports athlete, we have one body to deliver the axe and one body to deliver the saw. When I strength train, it’s all total body. I begin all of my workouts with a dynamic or speed movement such as a snatch or clean and jerk. Then I’ll do an overhead strength exercise followed by a squat. Then I’ll pull something from the floor. It’s all a progression of those four movement patterns. I’m very deliberate and obsessive-compulsive about my training planning. I will prioritize my training by having a heavy (weight) week, a light week, then a medium week. It allows me to get the rest I need, and my event training is the same way.

Moses: Back in 2011, I started doing CrossFit and that next season, I won five out of six events. But my workouts now are very body specific for each day. There are lots of thrusters and a lot of the Olympic lifts and their variations (clean and squat, clean and jerk). I do a lot of pull-ups, lunges and box jumping, too, and jog with weights on my head. They’re 90-150 minute workouts, and there’s a lot of conditioning, endurance and reps involved.