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Beginner’s Guide to Lifting Atlas Stones

Improve your skills and learn something new.

Looking to get strong and powerful? Look no further than the atlas stone! This ancient tool can help you build muscle and power like never before.

In this beginner’s guide, we will discuss the basics of lifting atlas stones and how you can start incorporating them into your workout routine.

What are Atlas Stones and where did they come from?

Atlas stones are large, round stones that have been used for centuries as part of a strength training regimen. The first records of someone lifting a stone come from ancient Greece, where Bybon lifted a 143.5 kilograms (316 lb) stone.

Nowadays, they are used in strongman competitions where the stones have to be placed on platforms of different heights. The weight of the stones increases incrementally with each level, while the height of the platform decreases.

The benefits of lifting Atlas Stones

Lifting atlas stones has a number of benefits.

Firstly, they pose an unique physical challenge, which can be great if you’re looking for a way to spice up your training routine.

Secondly, it helps to build strength and muscle, since the weight is distributed across multiple joints which makes it more challenging than other exercises. This makes it an incredible useful compound exercise that has carry-over to other sports and lifts like the power clean.

In addition, it improves your balance as the atlas stone is a awkward round object. It challenges you, as you need to be able to control the movement and lift the stone from the ground, onto a platform.

Finally, lifting atlas stones can help you develop a powerful core since you have to maintain tension in your mid-section throughout the entire lift to avoid any risk of injury.

How to lift an Atlas Stone

Lifting an atlas stone can be tricky at first as it it a very unusual thing to grab. Make sure that you start with a lighter stone, and focus on developing the technique first, before moving on.

  1. Pick an appropriate atlas stone and set it on the ground with enough space around
  2. Ideally, you’d want 1) a platform you can lift the stone onto; 2) something you can lift the stone over (in which case you want to have a pad or some rubber mats to catch the stone and 3) a spotter if you’re lifting heavier stones.
  3. The starting height of the platform should be about waist-high
  4. Stand over the stone and find a stance where you feel the most comfortable expressing force. For smaller stones, this usually means that your mid-foot will be crossing the middle of the stone(this will take experimenting and practice, for you to find the best position)
  5. Bend over and get your hands as far around the stone as possible
  6. Squeeze the stone and lift it up like you’re doing a deadlift
  7. Once you get to your knees, squat down and have the rest stone rest on your thighs. From there you can readjust your grip and prepare for the next step
  8. Again, squeeze the stone and explosively squat up while extending your back to place the stone onto the platform

Tips for beginners

One thing I want to note is that it’s okay to lift the stone with a rounded back. I know it goes against conventional wisdom, so let me explain.

To get the stone off the floor, you have to get into an awkward position. That position has to be one where you round your back, otherwise you’re not gonna be able to reach your hands far enough to grab the stone.

Once you’ve managed to pick it up onto your lap, you want to hug it and press it against your body as hard as you can. That action has two purposes: 1) making you able to stand up without the stone falling, and 2) keeping your back safe by providing external support.

If you wouldn’t have the stone against your body, the movement would be dangerous because of the immense shear force that would be placed on your spine.

Some equipment you can use include things like chalk, a lifting belt and knee sleeves. Chalk is great for improving your grip on the stone, while a lifting belt can help you maintain tension during the lift. Knee sleeves can help with keeping your knees warm and provide some compression which is beneficial for heavier lifts.

Now chalk isn’t actually the best option for lifting stones. You certainly don’t see strongmen use it. The reason is because there is something way better called tacky.

Tacky is basically a wax-like substance that is commonly used by strongman athletes. It provides great grip, while also keeping the stone in place during the lift.

At the end of the day, lifting atlas stones is all about practice. So train consistently and pay attention to what your body is telling you. You’ll be able to move heavier stones with time, but maintain proper form and avoid injury should be your priorities.

Variations for lifting Atlas Stones

If you have a home gym, you might want to consider buying them. If not, here are some ideas on how to find an alternative.

One of the substitutes you can use for atlas stones, are sandbags. They’re a little easier to grab and they come in a variety of weights. They should be more accessible, as gyms are more likely to have sandbags, than atlas stones.

Atlas stones in competition

You can also use med balls. They’re easy to grab, you can squeeze them them better than stones and they come in many different sizes. Their downside is that they’re probably not very heavy, so they can’t really replace the stone, but they’re good for practice.

These are just two alternatives, but you can really use anything that has a similar shape and weight, such as heavy blocks or even kegs.

FAQs about lifting Atlas Stones

Q: How much should I be able to lift?

A: That will depend on your current strength and training level. Beginners should focus on technique, rather than weight. As you progress, you’ll be able to lift heavier and heavier stones.

Q: What should I wear when lifting Atlas Stones?

A: Wearing the right clothing will make your life much easier. Make sure you wear flat-soled shoes that won’t slip, and leggings that protect your shins from possible damage. You can also use a lifting belt to help with form and muscular tension.

Q: What’s the best way to grip an Atlas Stone?

A: The most common and effective way to grip it is by placing your hands on the sides of the stone, with your palms facing up. You can also use mixed grips (one palm up, one down). This can be helpful if the surface of the stone isn’t even.

Image Sources

  • Atlas-Stones-in-Action: Rogue

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