Chopping wood might be a necessity for some, but for Matt Cogar, it’s a sport. The 31-year-old Red Bull athlete, from Webster Springs, West Virginia started wielding an ax when he was just 12, and has risen to become the world champion timbersport athlete — most well known for his underhand chop. Cogar is one of the most successful timbersport athletes in the world (Cogar won the 2017 STIHL Timbersports Championship after dominating in all six categories).
While the majority of his training comes from the physical act of doing the actual events themselves — either in competition or at home in the special training area he built — Cogar is at a point in his career where he’s spending more time in the gym. “The sport itself physically demands activity from the training to the event to gathering logs to train with. You’re hefting somewhere in-between 150 to 250-pounds. So you’re getting in deadlifts and cleans [with the prep alone],” says Cogar. “I’ve developed that skill and now I need to refine things to get to the next level.”
But refining his craft in a gym setting wasn’t always a part of Cogar’s training plan. “Before, it was more like 60/40 maybe, and now I really do spend 50/50 in the gym versus actual training,” Cogar says. “I’ll set up 3 stations and run through those with little rest in between. Mostly for reps (not time) — it’s a high weight, low rep situation.” A max of six reps means he’s training for muscular strength, which goes hand in hand with explosive power.
While the exact makeup of Cogar’s workout changes often, we tapped him for an example of the workout that’s made him the top athlete in his field.
Matt Cogar’s Three-Move Timbersports Workout
Do three rounds. Take little to no rest between exercises and reps.
Warm Up: While Cogar doesn’t have a specific warm up or cool down, it is recommended that you do some light cardio (think jogging, walking, or jumping) to get your heart rate up before you start this workout. Or you can do as Cogar does: “I do a lightweight first rep,” he says.
Deadlift: 1 set, 6 reps. Stand with your feet hip-width apart with a barbell (or weights or two kettlebells) on the floor in front of you. Bend your knees, grab the barbell and stand, keeping a flat back. This will activate your glutes, hamstrings and quads.
Front Squat: 1 set, 6 reps. Start with your feet hip-width apart, hands at your sides, or outstretched parallel to the ground. Pretend there is a wall behind you, and bend at your knees to bring your glutes close to your heels and your thighs parallel to the ground. Keep your feet flat on the ground and your chest upright. Squeeze your glutes as you stand to return to starting position. Range of motion is key here — the lower you can go, the more muscle fibers you’re working.
Roman Deadlift: 1 set, 6 reps. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell (or weights or two kettlebells) at your hip crease. You can keep a slight bend in your knees and a flat back. Start to hinge forward at your hips until you hit the bottom of your range of motion. Keep the weight as close to your legs as possible. Squeeze your glutes as you return to stand. This exercise isn’t about speed, but rather, your form and the weight.