Everybody Must Lift Stones

Everybody Must Lift Stones // (with my humblest apologies to Bob Dylan)

By Robert DaStrongman Racine

What man or woman in their right mind would want to lift a big, heavy boulder? I would.Why? Because rocks are primeval and eternal. To lift one requires raw, brute strength, some technique, and the knowledge that what you are doing goes against everything you have been taught about lifting and gravity. Lifting atlas stones can make or break a strongman or woman. And has.

Robert DaStrongman Racine

Some of the best strongmen have been from Iceland, Finland, Norway and places where they make Vikings. But American strongmen are coming on too. Colorado-born Brian Shaw won both the World’s Strongest Man and the Arnold Strongman competitions in 2011, all 6’8 tall and 480 pounds of him. You may have seen him in the new Bounty paper towels commercial (spoiler alert: he gets beat by a housewife with Bounty). Strong women are coming into their own, too, entering more contests and creating events of their own.Most of us are familiar with atlas stones, those round balls of granite or concrete we see those guys picking up on ESPN reruns of World’s Strongest Man competitions. Traditionally in competition, five stones of increasing weight are placed on top of a podium at approximately head height. If you go to a gym that has them, you are very lucky and should give them a try. Once you do you will be addicted. If you get good at it, you’ll even become fluid, like Mariusz Pudzianowski and Derek Poundstone, seen here (below) loading five atlas stones to determine who would become the 2008 World Strongest Man Title.

Amazing WSM finish by Marius Pudzianowski

Stones come in a variety of weights, from 100 pounds up to more than 500 pounds (though some gyms even have stones as light as 24 pounds).

You can also make stones of your own. I recommend buying a mold. SlatersHardware.com sells decent ones. Other stuff needed but not essential is a wooden platform or barrel to place the stone on. You can even set up a stone-over-bar apparatus. And don’t forget that you will definitely need tacky. This is the sticky stuff used on your hands and forearms to help you grip the stone. If you can lift a stone without tacky then it is too light. Get a bigger stone!

Before I go on, let me discuss tape. A lot of strongmen wrap athletic tape around the forearms. Why you ask? Well it does keep you from looking like you have road rash, but it also keeps more tacky on the arms. Very useful when doing reps or a series of stones. But let me suggest you try raw stone lifting just once.

So how do you lift said stone you ask? Rent a backhoe! Of course, if you’re anything like me a backhoe would be just a plain lazy and not nearly insane enough answer. You have to a little off kilter to do this, so let’s discuss. Lifting a stone is about ugly brute strength, the kind that will get you thrown out of gyms for setting off alarms. Get yourself mentally focused for this. Find some music to get you going or think of the most heinous act someone has committed against you. Once you have worked yourself into a frenzy, straddle the stone with your feet planted firmly on either side. Explode down and wrap your arms around the stone. From here you lap the stone (pull it into your lap). A a word of caution, never try to curl the stone or you will end up tearing a bicep. From the lap position, regrip the stone and stand up. Not nearly as easy as it sounds. As you stand, pull the stone high and stand on your toes. From here you can place the stone on the platform or drop it “gently” over the bar. Pretty simple and a cheap alternative to anger management.

Finally some last words of advice: Don’t think, just lift! You will thank me and hate me for it later.

Robert DaStrongman Racine

About Robert DaStrongman Racine

Got my first weight set when I was 10. I was bit by the strongman bug in 2003 and have never looked back. Have been competing in North American Strongman (NAS) competitions for eight years. Qualified for NAS Nationals in 2006 at the Illinois Strongest Man. Won the 2011 Central Florida Strongman in masters division. Follow my life and training at thelifeofastrongman.blogspot.com