T Nation

About Your Stones

Do folks here have access to stones? If not, how do you train for them?

This is my situation ATM and having never competed (and eyeing off an October competition), I’ve never lifted one. It seems like something you dont want to go into as a total newb…

I have a wide variety of stones. The closest carry over is the sandbag lift, which can be made with a military surplus canvis bag and bags of gravel.

Will look into sandbags, thanks. BTW, where do you store the things? I am happy to make them but storing…

I only have 1 sandbag that I use for cardio purposes so I might not be the best source of advice. The sandbag is composed to two smaller 52lb gravel bags, duct taped. I keep them in my car. Really, depending on how strong you are you just need 3-5 50lb bags, and a few smaller 10lb to 20lb bags. Id just put them in your garage until you think you need them.

I meant where do you store the stones :slight_smile:

I use to keep them inside my gym but for the past 3 years I’ve left them outside

The only time I ever get to handle stones is in a contest. I have done fair to great depending on the show. Smaller diameter stones are much easier than larger ones if you just try to hulk it up without any technique.

As was mentioned, the sandbag is a great way to train the mechanics of the lift. Kegs are a little similar too. Additionally, though I cannot verify it yet, my inclination is that seated zercher axle good mornings off pins are going to carry over very well to stones

Other gym lifts I think have great carryover are safety squat bar squats with a rounded upperback and all manner of rows.

Also, tacky changes things IMMENSELY, so don’t sweat if you ever get to a stone and try it without tacky.

You have to get your hips under the stone to pop it up, so I felt it was kind of similar to a power clean, with some front squat action.

Like these guys say, anything you hunker over and hug to your chest will work for practice.

Just be aware of what height you have to lift the stones to. If you’re just playing around with a sandbag in the back yard, make sure you get it up in the air enough. The first time I had to load to a high platform, I was not prepared.

Only tried to lift an atlas stone once, which was at a competition. I failed it.
So I only have things to say about how to NOT do it.
Absolutely apply tacky! Do not try to squat the stone. The more successful guys at this very competition all did something like a rounded back RDL. to get the stone to their thighs.

Helpful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZCm3mU2GhE

Start front squatting. At my last comp, I loaded a PR stone of 310lb at 195 body weight, I attribute that to training front squat with wendlers 531. Last comp as I tore my shoulder on the very first bloody event! :frowning:

Any gym move where you are front loaded with weight will help (front SQ, zerchers)

IMO (everyone is different) front squat and incline press (log or axle) are more beneficial to a strongman than back squat and flat bench.

It is tricky to train for stones without stones. In a pinch you can shove a bar through some 45’s (bumpers) and practice the pick.

If you can get a keg and fill it, you can train the loading portion. I use to see them on craigslist a ton.

Get tacky!! Chances are you can borrow some off of a fellow competitor. Spread some on your inner forearm, palms and put a big dab on the back of your hand incase you need to reapply if it is for reps.

This is how I load a stone (everyone is different)

Straddle the stone, insteps inline with the thickest part of the stone.

Slide your arms directly down over the stone (straight arms, vertical, don’t try to cradle the stone)

Rock the stone side to side to get your fingers under a little

Squeeze and stiff leg deadlift the stone up and sit back as soon as the stone passes your knees, buckle your knees in underneath to support the stone.

Lap your arms over the top of the stone and move your feet in slightly.

Hunch over, stick your chin on the stone and glue it to your upper chest!! DO NOT let it slip down when you stand!

Throw your hips forward and roll the stone up as you arch your back, use your belly as a shelf! stick it way out!

Once high enough lunge forward and chuck it over the bar or load it, whichever the event is.

Being new to stones the pick will seem hard. Keep pulling!! it may feel like it is glued to the floor but it will eventually move, just like a stubborn deadlift.


Holy crap that was an awesome answer. I can’t believe I totally forgot about the stone trainer. That’s a great technique. Just need a loading pin and a locking collar.

Kalle Beck had a good video on it.

Glad you posted this. I’ve seen those trainers before and was never convinced (I assumed you lifted as he recommends against) but seeing it in action looks pretty good.

Thanks for all the tips everyone.

I still think you should consider a sandbag. For awhile I tried using one of those trainers and it felt completely different. A sandbag is super cheap (my 100-something lb bag costs me about $25) and as close as youll get to the real thing. As far as storage, they are probably fine in a garage or basement. However, if you use concrete that is water/weather proof then you could leave them outside if you had no choice.

Shall definitely be organising a sandbag. Thanks for the suggestion

Also if you really want to make a stone to train with, you can make an old school version. It will not be great by any means but it will give you something to work with.
Get an 18" beachball/ fitness ball. Dig a hole the size of the ball. Make sure to pack the soil as tight as possible around the ball, the looser the soil the more distorted the stone will be when the weight of the cement moves any soft soil.
cut a hole in the top of the ball and pour the cement in and let sit for a week then dig it up.
Periodically soak the stone once out to help cure.
Probably safe to use after 2-3 weeks.

Has anyone lifted the “Wessel Stones?”

Legend says they were the first stones made (forged) in the USA, by Willie himself.

Instead of pea gravel, they were made with driveway rocks. They are the toughest stones ever.

One guy got his nose scuffed off.

Well, I decided to go for the long commute to a gym with stones. Glad i did as it was awkward as fuck!!

I was okay past mid shin but I had awful trouble getting it there. In the end, I managed to load 105kg for a double to a high platform (I think it was standard but the gym owner felt sorry for me and told me it was higher haha). For a first up go, I’ll take it.

To show for my efforts, I have some fairly horrific looking bruising on my forearms and biceps. Haha

I also picked up some bags of sand and some military canvas laundry bags as a training aide and I’ll make the gym commute every 6-8 weeks.

Thanks for the input all.

Have fun! Stones are the best lift in existence. Screw Squats and DLs, stones are where it is at.