Don’t try this one at home, folks.
Atlas Stones are unique to Strongman competitions and they take years of training and progressions to be able to complete. However, if you’ve got serious fitness goals – and a work ethic to match – this rarely-done exercise could be in your future.
Just What Are Atlas Stones?
Atlas Stones are considered the signature event in the World’s Strongest Man competition. Competitors must lift five spherical stones and place them on top of high platforms. The stones range in weight from 100-160 kilograms, and the platforms are spaced along a course ranging from 16-33 feet. The stones are made of concrete – often with steel inside for added weight – and their exterior is often left rough for easier gripping. Atlas Stones are typically the final event of the World’s Strongest Man competition, and the man who conquers this event oftentimes wins the whole competition. Prior to 1998, these stones were known as McGlashan Stones.
Atlas Stones: A Modern History
Atlas Stones were introduced in 1986 and were added to the World’s Strongest Man competition that same year. In the early years, most competitors could not lift and place all five spheres. However, over the past decade, most Strongman competitors have achieved the placement of all five. When this happens, the winner is determined based upon which competitor completed the event in the shortest amount of time.
Atlas Stones take their name from Ancient Greek texts describing Atlas’ war with the Greek gods, which he lost. As punishment, legend says, Zeus required Atlas to hold up the heavens for eternity. In one famous sculpture, Atlas is shown holding the weight of the world on his back – in the form of a giant, spherical orb. It’s this orb which gives today’s Atlas Stones their name.
What Type Of Exercise Is This?
This competitive exercise requires a mix of advanced technique, cardio ability and pure power. It has similarities with power lifts like the dead lift, as well as with weighted carry exercises.
Long-Term Preparation For This Exercise
To prepare for the Atlas Stones event, you’ll want to practice lifts frequently, particularly those that build explosive power.
It’s also a good idea to perform weighted carry exercises often, and to get a set of Atlas Stones to practice with. Many people make their own so that they can control the weight and progress toward competition-weight stones.
Atlas Stones In Seven Steps
- Approach the stone so that the joint of your big toe is lined up with the stone. Keep your feet close to the stone so that you can rest it on your thighs after the initial lift.
- Spread your fingers apart and grip the stone around the diameter. Spreading your fingers allows for more surface area contact with the stone, making it easier to support.
- Keep your arms straight, with your elbows pointing out to the sides.
- Extend your hips up so that your hamstrings stretch and elongate. Engage the hamstrings and then lower your hips down a bit so you’re in an ideal pulling position. This is similar to the form you use in a deadlift, not the lower posture you would use in a squat.
- Squeeze the stone with your fingertips, hands and forearms. Pull the stone up and roll it into your lap, supported by your thighs.
- Move your hands to the 10 and 2 position on the stone, squat low and drive upward while pushing your hips forward toward the platform.
- Deposit the stone onto the platform and brace it so it will not roll off.
Understanding The Benefits
The main benefit of performing Atlas Stones is that it allows you to qualify for the World’s Strongest Man competitions. The training for this event, as well as Atlas Stones themselves, also provide a full-body workout and muscle hypertrophy.
Atlas Stone Variations
Atlas Stones come in various weights and materials for training in progressions toward competition weight.
This exercise isn’t for the faint of heart, but mastering it will certainly help you make your mark as a Strongman.