As far as I’m concerned, Atlas Stone training is the next big thing to hit the training world! Yes, it has been around for decades, but it seems like a lot of people (not just the strongman athletes) are starting to use Atlas Stones in their training. In terms of “Survival Fitness,” what could you prepare your body better for survival in the wild than training like a caveman? Stones are balls of mass destruction and lifting one requires strength and power, brute force in its purest form.
While sandbags and kettlebells are awesome training tools, nothing seems to bring out my inner strength like Atlas Stones. I’ve been training with stones for the past three years and I can tell you something, I look forward to training with them every day. I started with basic “platform lifts,” these involve lifting the stone off the ground and placing it on a platform that stands several feet off the ground. Using different weights and heights, I was able to progress each time; I started with a 16-inch stone weighing 175 pounds, and now train with stones of all sizes and weights from 10-inches to 20-inches stones with weights varying from 45 pounds to 345 pounds. For those who have never tried lifting an Atlas Stone, the wider a stone is, the more difficult it is to lift.
Caveman Lift Stone, Caveman Get Strong
Training with Atlas Stones can give you the edge in power and strength, as well as the “I’m a badass” feeling after you’re done with a workout. If you have never lifted an Atlas Stone, this is what it’s like: imagine getting down into a deep, awkward squatting position, wrapping your arms around a cold, smooth lump of rock with no grip whatsoever, then using your legs, glutes, back, chest, and biceps to pick up an object that is trying to roll away from you (in the process you’ll be compressing your chest and lungs), and moving that object from the ground to a platform that could be as high as your chin. After performing this motion a single time, you won’t just feel caveman-strong, you’ll feel caveman angry. That is the standard platform lift that you see in strongman competitions, however, Atlas Stones of different sizes can be used for much more.
I’m using the stones to conduct a multitude of lifts including cleans, shoulder presses, thrusters, shouldering, deadlifts, and front squats to name a few. Simply lifting an Atlas Stone over your head is badass and takes pure power and strength. Using Atlas Stones, I have seen my PR’s go through the roof and have seen substantial increases in strength. If you are a powerlifter (beginner or pro), stone training should be something you add to your routine to enhance your form and technique, as well as your range of motion. Picking up an Atlas Stone requires deeper squats, engaging different muscles and recruiting more muscles into the lift. In addition, the awkwardness of the weight requires constant movement correction and control to perform each lift. The following are a couple workouts you can use to build awesome full body strength and conditioning using a pure Atlas Stone workout, or using it as part of an unconventional training workout.
Atlas Stones: Stone-Only Workout
A: Thrusters - 4 x 8-12
B: Cleans - 4 x 8-12
C: Stone Push Ups - 4 x 15-20
D: Shouldering - 4 x 6-10
E: Platform Lift - 4 x 5-8
Atlas Stones: Semi-Stone Workout
A1: Rope slams - 1min
A2: Kettlebell Thrusters - 4x 12-15
A3: Stone Push Ups - 4x 15-20
A4: Platform Lift - 4x 5-8
A5: 600 meter run
If you are not training with Atlas Stones, it is time to go out and make/buy one! Start lifting some serious weight and watch your strength go up to caveman beast levels. There are two places that you can get Atlas Stone molds: Hybrid Athletics and Slaters Hardware. Both companies make awesome molds, read my review if you’re not sure which one to get.
Atlas Stones: Caveman Tips For Making Stones
Unlike most pieces of equipment that can be bought and shipped, the majority of people will need to buy a mold and make them from scratch (unless you know someone like me nearby). Building the perfect stone takes time and the best materials. Here are a few tips to building the perfect Atlas Stone:
TIP 1: Start by wiping down the stone molds and making sure that there are no dents or old concrete stuck to the inside.
Tip 2: Spray the inside of the mold with a silicone texture to make sure that the concrete doesn’t stick. This also makes for an easy release.
Tip 3: Use Quick Crete 5000 psi fast-strengthening mix (you can get this at any hardware store). Put concrete fibers in the mix to add extra strength.
Tip 4: When placing the mixture into the molds, always shake and stir the mold and mixture to make sure all the air bubbles come to the top of the stone, this helps press the concrete into the mold. Tap the outside of the mold when it is almost full to let all excess water and air pockets escape. If you don’t do this, the stone will not be as strong, it will not have a smooth surface , and it won’t look very good either.
Tip 5: Let the molds set for at least four days before cracking them out. It is best to allow the stone to cure in the mold for up to 21 days for max strength. After cracking the stone from the mold, use sandpaper to sand off any rough edges. After this, let the stones harden for another four days before lifting them (a total of eight days to harden and become stronger). The longer the stone sets without being lifted, the stronger the stone gets.
Tip 6: Add a foam ball insert or weighted insert to make custom weights. For example, I have an 18-inch stone that only weighs 160 pounds because I added a foam insert in the center; this allows me to get used to the bigger size of the stone and rep out with it. When I want to go heavy, I have another 18-inch stone “max stone” with a weighted insert that weighs 300 pounds. This Atlas Stone training concept is similar to kettlebell lifting in Girevoy Sport: perfect your lifting technique with one size and various weights.
Watch Trent Bender's Caveman Atlas Stone Workout:
This article was featured in the Dec/Jan 2011 Issue of the My Mad Methods Magazine. “Atlas Stones: Caveman Strength for Any Situation" was written by the Jon Celis. Learn more about the My Mad Methods Magazine by Clicking Here
Trent Bender is the owner of the Underground Strength Gym, The Pit in Venice Beach, California. At â€œThe Psychology of Strength,â€ our main emphasis is on the mental aspect of training. We believe that perseverance is a skill that can be learned. Our main focus is developing the ability to overcome adversity. This is true strength. We care less about how much our clients can bench press and more about how people can use the skills we teach to handle obstacles in their lives. Mental toughness is our primary goal. Find out more.
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