Strongman Training – Getting Started With Atlas Stones

by Kilo on December 19, 2010

Last Tuesday I walked into the Crossfit gym where I train–I don’t train Crossfit, however–and had to clap my hands over my mouth before a bunch of girlish giggles filled the air. Sitting on the floor were four Atlas Stones. The Atlas stone is a giant round…stone. Pretty much just like it sounds.

The name comes from the titan Atlas from Greek mythology. Atlas was sentenced to hold the world on his back. Pictures often show him with a globe on his back, and variations say that the globe represents the planet Earth, or “the entire heavens.”

In the gym or in the World’s Strongest Man (or Woman) competitions, it’s just a big round stone which comes in various weights that must be lifted and manipulated in various ways. The most common strongman event I have seen them in is this one:

This is Felix Dennis repping out with an incredible 383 pounds. As you can see the components of the movement are familiar–it’s a squat, a deadlift, and a push off the chest–but putting them all together is a different animal. What Felix is doing here mimics the Atlas Stone event. Picking the stones up and placing them on top of pillars with a shallow depression on top for the stones to settle into.

I’m assuming it gets more challenging as it gets heavier. Where’s my Nobel Prize for observational majesty?

Our gym currently only has the four stones with the top being about 115 pounds. They’re getting the moldings for more up to 275 pounds. Then we’ll see. It will be a while before I’d need anything heavier, and I suspect that currently that will prove to be out of my range for a while anyways.

So far with our heaviest one I’ve just been picking it up, squatting, pressing it overhead, bear hugging it, and going for walks around the gym. It’s very interesting to pick something up that forced a roundback deadlift more than I am used to, and I really like the zercher squat movement when the stone must be gathered into the lap in the bottom of the squat before standing up.

You probably won’t ever see me on one of the World’s Strongest Man marathons with the stones, but wow, I am really excited to get a chance to use them. Not everyone does!


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