Lifting stones is without doubt one of the greatest ways to test your strength. Whether you're a Strength Coach passing the skills on to others, a Strongman looking for a competitive edge or a serious fitness enthusiast just wondering what it's all about; you've come to the right place. This page will tell you what, why and how to do a little stone lifting.
Firstly, let's take a look at the different types of stones commonly available. These vary enormously in size and weight, so there's an ideal starting point for everyone.
Although originally intended for a different purpose (they were used to assist the pointing of the bridge over the Dee at Potarch), they're now used as a test of strength for lifters the world over.
Comprising two stones weighing about 785lbs between them, each with a metal handle (through which was placed a rope, to do the pointing noted above), there have been a number of attempted lifts over the years. The successful ones are listed here.
This stone originally formed the basis of a challenge in Iceland's Husafell Valley (hence the name). The task was to lift and carry the Kviahellan approximately 50 meters around Sira Snorri Bjornsson's goat pen - quite a feat. Those who were able to achieve this are known simply as 'Fullsterker' (fully strong).
In the World's Strongest Man competitions the Husafell stone is lifted from a waist-high platform to chest height, and carried for distance. Once the stone is dropped, or in the case of the competitor moving outside their designated lane, the carry is terminated and the distance measured. During the years in which this event took place on African soil, the stone was known as the Africa stone (and shaped accordingly).
The modern variants are perfectly spherical (or as close to it as possible), and range in weight from 100kg to 160kg. In total there are 5 of these stones.
When you lift real stones, each lift is a battle. You and mother nature and nothing else. There are no handles on a real stone, and there is nothing easy about lifting it off the ground. You'll know an ab workout when you zercher squat a stone.
The technique itself is relatively straightforward, though it will certainly take a bit of practice. For a detailed look at both the manufacture and use of your own home-made Atlas Stones, grab a copy of 'Napalm' Jedd Johnson / Steve Slater's superb 'How to Make Atlas Stones' DVD. The perfect way to learn.
You can grab a copy right here :
Want more? No problem. There's a wealth of stone-lifting information on this site, the forums and a whole lot more. Here are a few of my favourites.
NB : with any of the stone training articles on Straight to the Bar, just click the tag 'stone lifting' to see a constantly-updated list of the many aspects of it we talk about on here. Enjoy.
As I said in the beginning, lifting stones is without doubt one of the greatest ways to test your strength. The perfect combination of physical strength, planning, tenacity and much, much more.
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