Have Fun, Get Strong

Strength coach, trainer educator, writer, mom to three awesome kids, pie enthusiast. Creating monsters since 2009.

An Interview with Arden Cogar, Jr.

Arden Cogar Jr. and Bob Wanamaker

For those readers who don’t know much about Arden, you can read his official bio here (http://www.stihltimbersports.us/arden-cogar-jr.aspx)

Your accomplishments in the timbersports world are many, and you’ve been active in the sport since you were 8 years old. Looking back over a successful career, what was your proudest moment?

Arden Cogar Sr. circa 1974 at the
Lumberjack World Championships
 

My proudest moments in Timbersports came during 1993 while competing at the Albany Timber Carnival in Albany Oregon. I was competing in the 12” Standing Block World Title. At that time, only three Americans in the sixty year history of the ATC had won that world title. My father was one of those three. During 1993, I drove the block off and spun to realize that I had won the event becoming the fourth American to accomplish that feat. But the pride I have for that moment was not in the victory. The pride I have, or the reason I am proud of that moment, was the expression on my father’s face as I turned to see him once I had realized I won the event. Every time I think of that moment, I hold back tears. My father is a man of very few worlds, but his expression that day made me realize just how proud he is of me. It was, and still is, a very special moment for me.

What was the biggest mistake you ever made in your training? Why did it seem like the right thing to do at the time?

In hindsight, the biggest mistake I’ve ever made with my training is to train my body “for show” rather than “for go.” In other words, for about 15 years of my life, I trained very much like a bodybuilder – striving to make myself look good in the mirror – instead of a training like an athlete. Beyond that, I always strived to move bigger weights for more reps in a linear fashion – I did NOT understand the importance of giving my body a down time, or a de-load, in order to adapt to the weights. At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do because such training was all the rage in the muscle magazines. And it was how all my other friends, who were bodybuilders, trained.

What’s the single most important piece of training advice you’d give to a younger you?

I would tell a younger me that you need to forget the mirror and focus on making your entire body strong and flexible. You are an athlete. No a bodybuilder. Train like an athlete.

I’ve seen your recent training videos on YouTube. How do you keep training at what is an insanely intense level?

I am blessed to train at a high level of both volume and intensity because of the wonderful principle of adaptation. I could not do what I do now five years ago, let alone ten years ago. But beyond that, I’ve embraced the concept of active recovery and the importance of putting my body in the optimal position to repair itself between session.

In understanding this principle, I mean to say that perform yoga often up to twice daily. I also do self myofascial release and trigger point self-massage as often as is necessary. I also have my own Electro Muscular Stimulation (“EMS”) unit that I apply to areas, along with ice, that may have possible strains or “tweaks.” I also purposely take down time during my training week and do nothing physical. I also purposely de-load every fourth week to keep myself fresh and raring to go into the next training cycle. I also, finally, understand the extremely important principal of post workout recovery and the nutritional needs of my body after an intense session; all calories were not created equal. That concept has escaped me until just prior to my 42nd birthday.

Tell us your best numbers on the common gym lifts (feel free to use pounds), when you set them, and how far off you might be from those numbers today.

My personal best squat is in the low 600s. But I can do sets of 8 and 10 with 505 and 515. I have purposely not squatted over 515 for 15 years as I have not had a need given that I don’t compete in powerlifting contests anymore. I believe I could squat in the mid-600s now no-no-no if I had a 10 to 12 weeks to get used to weight.

My personal deadlift is 775, but I know I can pull more than that now. I can pull 700 to 720 just about any day of the week right now. Four weeks ago, I pulled 620 for 10 – a personal record for me.

My personal best overhead is 375. I did that last August. I’m closing in this now and may finally get that elusive 400 overhead this year.

My personal best bench press is a whopping 340 – I did that during 1989 at the tender age of 19 and at a bodyweight of 220. Oh the joy of being 76” from fingertip to fingertip while being 70” tall. Every time I get close to doing 315 for sets, I strain something in my right shoulder. So I don’t bench press that often. To be frank, bench pressing has very little application for my sport so I don’t give it much emphasis. However, due to some recent conversations with Gant Grimes, I’m going to be thick bar benching in the near future, so the game may be afoot.

My best power snatch is 115kg or 253 pounds. Just shy of my bodyweight. My goal is to get my bodyweight.

My best clean and jerks is 150kg or 330 pounds. I know I can do more. Just need to pull the thumb out.

Why aren’t those numbers as important to you today?

Numbers in the gym don’t help my overall goals in becoming a better Timbersports athlete. Strength is good. It never hurts to be strong. But I am at a stage where my strength improvements have minimal impact upon my performances in my sport.

What techniques do you use to train through and around injury?

If I have an injury, I find a way to train the rest of my body while not impacting the unaffected area. For example, I sprained my wrist last spring. I could not event train. I could not do any pressing movements. It was difficult to do pulls. So I squatted and squatted often. Moreover, I found a way to use straps that it did not impact my wrists while doing pulls.

When I had knee surgery a few years ago, I was in the gym the following day – upper body only every other day until the doctor allowed me start doing knee rehab. I began with high box squats. Over time, I added weight. As time went on, I lowered the box and added more weight. Within 12 weeks of my surgery, I was back to squatting 315 for sets.

For me, I have to find a way to do something. I refuse to do nothing.

What recovery techniques do you employ, and how did you decide to employ them?

As I mentioned earlier, I perform yoga often up to twice daily. I also do self myofascial release and trigger point self-massage as often as is necessary. I also have my own Electro Muscular Stimulation (“EMS”) unit that I apply to areas, along with ice, that may have possible strains or “tweaks.” I also purposely take down time during my training week and do nothing physical. I also purposely de-load every fourth week to keep myself fresh and raring to go into the next training cycle. I also, finally, understand the extremely important principal of post workout recovery and the nutritional needs of my body after an intense session; all calories were not created equal. That concept has escaped me until just prior to my 42nd birthday.

I employ all the above as a regular part of my training protocol. It happens in a regimented fashion come hell or high water.

How do you balance life, family, career, and sleep with your training?

This is a very difficult question to answer. First, I must admit to being an insomniac. I sleep, at best, 4 to 5 hours a night. The lack of sleep helps with the family, life and career but is not so great for the training. But I do not watch TV. My only down time, other than purposeful down time, is on the computer during days I’m in the office or when I’m working and I need a brain break. Otherwise, just about every hour is accounted for during the day. It’s a busy lifestyle, but I embrace it and I love it. I wouldn’t’ have it any other way.

I commit at least two hours a day, every day, for my training. I also commit one day a week to a complete lack of physical activity to help me recover. I also purposely take some OTC sleep medications one day a week to make certain that I get “caught up” on my sleep cycles.

Do you ever plan on putting the axe down, and going quietly into the night?

To be frank, I never intend on putting the axe down. My long term goal is to be competitive well into my 60s. My father is 78 and is still active in the sport. He can no longer compete in the championship division, but he splits wood up to 5 hours a day and competes at contests on weekends.

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Categories: Arden Cogar, autoregulation, lumberjack, strength training, training program

3 replies

  1. Nice interview! Arden seems like a really cool guy.

    Like

  2. CHARLESTON STAND UP!!!!!

    Like

  3. WEEEESSSSTTT SSIIIIIDDEEE!!!!!

    Like

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