Atlas stone lifts are a strongman specialty. So who better than Tom Stoltman, reigning World’s Strongest Man, to tell us what it takes to lift an atlas stone, with five tips to lifting them successfully.
If you’re going to take atlas stone advice from anyone, it’s Tom Stoltman. In May 2021, Tom smashed the previous world record, lifting an eye-watering 286kg atlas stone over a bar. You heard us. 286kg.
Before you even touch an atlas stone, you need to get yourself prepped. It’s a whole-body exercise and it’s certainly not as easy as Tom makes it look. The move places the most pressure on your hamstrings and your lower back.
To get warmed up Tom tends to perform some stiff leg deadlifts, glute bridges and back extensions. These exercises build the perfect foundation to get you on to the atlas stones.
It’s probably fair to say Tom’s warm-up is more intense than an ordinary person’s workout. But we guess that’s what it takes it be a Strongman.
Do not bend your arms when you’re lifting the stones off the ground — keep your arms straight and get it up to your lap. Bending your arms puts them under more stress and is likely to result in an injury. Given the training and competing schedule for a seasoned strongman, there’s no time for injuries.
Always use protection. In this case, he’s talking about tacky. A quick search revealed that tacky helps the lifter to avoid excessively straining their arm muscles while lifting the stone. Alternatively, wear stone sleeves or anything you can to make stone lifts easier. Tom’s personal favourite is tacky, so he doesn’t have to squeeze the stone as hard, and it makes the general movement much easier.
When you get the stone on to your lap, you want to overextend your hips, to get the stone up properly. Tom suggests practising over-extending your hips to build yourself up to putting the stone on to a platform.
Take Home Message
It’s fair to say Tom is a seasoned pro when it comes to lifting atlas stones, and he’s more than qualified to offer advice. It’s important to remember to start light. Even the World’s Strongest Man wasn’t born able to lift a 286kg atlas. So get yourself some tacky and get lifting.