Looking over a strong shoulder

how a Stihl Timbersports® athlete trains

It only takes a few seconds for a STIHL TIMBERSPORTS ® athlete to cut a wooden block with the diameter of his own trunk into slices just a few centimetres thick. And it doesn't take him much longer to chop a tree trunk the height of a full-grown man with targeted blows of his axe.

What takes moments during the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS ® Series is the result of months, if not years of preparation and training for the athletes.

OCHSENKOPF looked over the strong shoulder of Dennis Schmitz, title holder of the German Rookie Championship 2018, while he was training. Dennis Schmitz of Frechen near Cologne told us about his training routine, motivation and sporting plans for the future in an interview.

Dennis Schmitz: forester and timbersports athlete

It almost sounds as if it could be a film: from a forester to a Stihl TIMBERSPORTS ® athlete. For Dennis Schmitz, who spends his days in the city jungle looking after and managing the trees and parks, since March 2016 even in his private life almost everything has revolved around wood.

test training

At the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS ® test training, Dennis – who was a beginner at the time – proved his skills with axe and saw. In the official Stihl TIMBERSPORTS ® disciplines Standing Block Chop, Underhand Chop, Single Buck and Stock Saw he did so well that since then the STIHL family has been supporting him as an athlete and helping him to develop.


Despite the many parallels, profession and hobby never become boring for Dennis. Quite the opposite, in fact. When the day's work on state-of-the-art machines is done, his training in the evening makes a pleasant change for him. The Stihl TIMBERSPORTS ® disciplines are far more similar to the classic, traditional tree-felling than modern forestry work. Rather than relying on the technology of the modern machines, skilled craftsmanship, tool knowledge and physical strength are far more important.

TIMBERSPORTS® Training: technique, strenght and brains

Dennis Schmitz trains with an OCHSENKOPF champion axe OX 440 H, 3000 grams, and a STIHL® chainsaw. These two tools enable him to prepare perfectly for his disciplines. The athlete is in training all year round, summer and winter. He makes sure that his training is well balanced: for the Stihl TIMBERSPORTS ® disciplines, it is important to achieve the right balance of dexterity, technique, strength and brains. Which is why Dennis combines the exercises with the axe and saw with strength and endurance training as well as mental training.

Discipline training

The timer athlete practices his Standing Block Chop, Underhand Chop, Single Buck, Stock Saw & co. on the premises of a friend who owns a company that produces firewood, where he has set up his own practice ground.

It is important to warm up correctly. Skipping not only gets the cardiovascular system going, but also prepares all the muscle groups for the strenuous exercises. The compulsory is followed by freestyle. Every Stihl TIMBERSPORTS ® discipline is carried out in the original version using wood, a sport axe and a chainsaw. The favourites - Block Chop, Single Buck and Underhand Chop - are very easy. However, it is important to pay attention to the movement sequences, where there is still room for potential. Such as achieving the right hip swing. According to Dennis, this is important for the technique, and is therefore practised intensively.

Dennis Schmitz is careful and conscientious. He regularly videos his training sessions. Afterwards, they are watched and rated. Over time, technique and handling are optimised.



The premier class in the STIHL Timbersports® Series: contestants climb to a height of two metres and chop through a log mounted on the top of the tree trunk. The discipline owes its name to the wooden board – the springboard – that the athletes have to anchor in the trunk in order to reach the required height.


Standing Block Chop

The athletes simulate the felling of a tree – against the clock, of course. The objective is to chop through the side of a 30cm diameter wooden block with an axe as quickly as possible.


Underhand Chop

Contestants stand on a horizontal block and use targeted blows to sever it on both sides.


STIHL Stock Saw

Using an MS 661, a standard commercially available STIHL chainsaw, two wooden discs known as cookies have to be cut from a horizontally attached wooden trunk using one up and one down cut. The difficulty lies in cutting both discs from within the 10 cm of allotted wood, and cutting each one in a single piece.


Single Buck

Using the 2-metre single buck saw: a disc is cut from a horizontally secured wooden block. The contestant is supported by an assistant who, if necessary, will drive a wedge between the disc and the wooden block.


Hot Saw

More power: the contestants use chainsaws of up to 808 hp to cut three 15cm complete wooden discs within a specified area from a horizontal wooden block.

Gym and endurance

Three times a week, Dennis complements his training with a fully-body session at the gym. He and his training partner perform the strength units with the classics: deadlifts, bench presses, free weight training to strengthen the deep muscles.

The training schedule is changed every six weeks to vary the muscle stimulation. He also includes one or the other super set. These are sets in which two exercises for a muscle group are performed as a set, one directly after the other, without a break. 






A challenging programme for the athlete and his training partner – but even then, the visit to the gym is followed by a session on the running machine. Because endurance is as important as strength if you want to do well in these competitions.

mental strenght

Dennis Schmitz is a full-blooded athlete. His own success, role models from the world of sports and the friendly relationships among the STIHL® athletes spur him on. This motivation enables Dennis to give his best in competitions. His prior knowledge gained while working with the tools and of the behaviour and textures of the various woods and their processing are also of tremendous benefit when he is competing in the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Series. As soon as the preparations commence on the day of the competition, Dennis Schmitz focuses completely and entirely on his technique and movements. This sport is equally challenging for body and mind.

With this incredible workload, it stands to reason that there must occasionally be a day on which he isn't able to perform quite as well as he would expect. "It's not a big deal," says Dennis. And yet you also have to learn how to handle these supposed setbacks. Mental training is therefore an extremely important addition to his training routine.


The greatest reward after the tough and challenging training is the great feeling – along with the pride in what you have achieved – simply priceless. But, as Dennis adds with a wink, a piece of chocolate can be just as good ...

Future plans: tough training brings its rewards

Winning the title at the German Rookie Championship 2018 has been the highlight of his career as a TIMBERSPORTS® athlete so far. Dennis Schmitz has achieved a lot. "But there's still more to do", as he assures us in an interview with OCHSENKOPF. Dennis sets ambitious stage goals for every season. He hopes to achieve professional classification in 2019 and end the season as a solid presence on the midfield. OCHSENKOPF is crossing its fingers and is sure: we're going to be hearing a lot more about Dennis Schmitz.

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