T Nation

Atlas Stone Training


The more I think about strongman the more I want to compete.

I have a question about training for atlas stones. I only have access to regular barbells/dumbbells so I have been training the Zercher walk and squat. The problem is that I find during the Zercher squat my lower-mid back is very week. this is not the muscles that are trained with SLDLs nor those trained with a barbell row - it is kind of in between them where the lumbar spine ends and the regular spine begins (whatever the hell it is called lol).

My routine right now is more cardio focus for the zerchers: 10 sets with 30 seconds rest/set of Zercher walks picked up off the ground, low enough so I dont have to completely round my back to get them. I feel like I need to strengthen this lower-middle back region before I start Z-squats again.

I have no idea what exercise would assist/help. Anyone have advice?


I found a ton of carryover from the safety squat bar squat with chains to atlas stones. I had never touched a stone before my first contest, but the movement was almost identical for me. I've heard front squats are helpful as well. And with bumper plates, you can do a stone trainer.


That looks really, really bad for the lower back. My approach would have been to get into an ATG position, then lift straight up using the legs, with torso and arms for isometric support only.


Good luck doing that with a real stone....I've done limited stone work since my 1st contest had a lot of keg events but I've loaded the 200 lb stone a handful of times. The basic technique is legs set like a sumo deadlift, straddling the stone, deadlift it to your lap and squat down to bear hug it, then squat up, and it is alot of hip thrusting and hip extension like Kalle showed.

If you have right technique, I feel like you have more of a risk of bicep tear than lower back injury depending on where you try to grab it(if you grab too low, your biceps take a lot more of the weight than just supporting it)....zecher squats/front squats have the best carryover but you can't really mimic the stones...all you can do is strengthen the muscles used for it. Make sure if you want to compete, strengthen your biceps. My bi's haven't ever been as sore as they were the day or 2 after the competetion


Welcome to strongman.

As for lifting with your legs...good luck with that.


I do not think your approach would be very beneficial for the atlas stones.

Perhaps I am unclear of your goals. Is your goal to be better at strongman, or to improve lower back health?


I think this should have been the question I asked as well. If your goal is lower back health, and you are worried about lower back, I'd get that rectified and strengthened before doing any event training. Most events are very back(whole back, not just lower back) intensive, and even w/ correct technique on loading events and such, you still get a killer lower back, hamstrings, and glute workout throughout all the hip drive and extensions reguired for loading, and even log clean I feel. Heavy yokes & farmers hit lower back as well. Even tire flips give me an intense pump in my lower back even though its 90% leg drive. If you have a lower back issue, fix that, then worry about events.


Sorry for the late reply, been busy/getting home late from work.

My goal is to train for strongman, but I have this odd weakness that comes out when I try to perform the zercher squat. I already box squat and get my hips way out as it is, as this is the form that I have progressed best with and can lift the most weight.

The zercher squat leads to back pain, which I do not have when I do anything else except conventional deadlifts. I was inquiring about exercises that would help strengthen my lower-middle back so I may perform heavy zerchers without having to worry about injury and terrible form.

I found out about a gym that is better than the one that I am currently going to, but is "members only" and is unadvertised except for some searches on google. I am going to check it out tomorrow. The reviews I read claim it is a gym with strongman and professional equipment. Provided the price isnt too bad per month I will most likely join.


Oh, and I tried that technique in the video btw, surprisingly easy to implement. Since did not have access to an implement that could hold 3-plates together nicely, I just tied two 45lb plates with a rope and did my best not to drop them and keep them together haha.


If you are looking for strengthening the lower back, obvious thing that comes to mind is stiff leg deads, hyper extensions, etc. If it is a flexibility issue, I found that lower back pain/stiffness when I neck bridge on a regular basis. Also foam rolling is da bomb. Once you start strongman training, you will find your weaknesses and you will strengthen them through Strongman as well. Strongman gets you very strong, very quick all over.