Odd Object Training – Intense & Fun Strength Training
Odd Object training, lifting things like atlas stones, kegs, and sandbags is a very rewarding form of training. You get strong in ways that barbells and dumbbells can not provide and it is fun to pick things up that 99% of the population will never do.
Recently, I wanted to start working some odd object training into the routine. Optimally, I would have wanted to lift some atlas stones. But since it had been over a year since I last trained them, I wanted to work Odd Object Training back in slowly.
Instead of jumping right into stones, I opted to do some sandbag lifting and keg lifting. Both of these implements are shaped very similar to stones, and allow you to get used to the body positions of stone lifting and to somewhat practice the stone lifting technique.
The day I did this was also my Overhead Pressing day so I still wanted to do some overhead work. Since I was working with 110-lb Sandbag and a 127-lb Keg, I was able to get plenty of overhead lifting volume in.
For the sandbag, I decided I would do full cleans and presses. This would allow my back to get accustomed once again to the round-back position of odd object training, without going as heavy as my lightest stone, 230-lbs.
To stay conservative, I started with just 3 repetitions in my first set, and then added 1 repetition each set. All the while, I was trying to move faster and faster with the clean and the press in order to get a bit of an increase cardiovascular demand.
In the video you will see that I put a Timer in, just to show how quickly or slowly I was moving through the repetitions. Since there was a clean to the shoulder on each repetition, much more muscle was involved than just performing one clean and going for repetitions afterwards.
Here’s the video so you can see how it went.
With the Keg I decided to move to just one clean and multiple presses during the set. The clean is much tougher with my Keg because it is only half full of scrap steel and it shifts around quite a bit. I didn’t want to push my luck on my wrist, so 1 clean per set was good enough.
I also tried to perform a Keg Snatch, lifting it from between the legs overhead in one movement. I didn’t quite get it but I did come close. I think next workout I will be able to perform the snatch.
Check out the video:
As you watch the videos, you will see that I definitely have gotten a bit rusty with my Odd Object training. When you don’t do it for a while, you forget the challenge of controlling these implements, especially during the flip-over/catching portion of the Keg and Sandbag clean. After a couple of sets, I was able to knock most of the rust off.
For those who are new to this kind of training, you will want to approach it somewhat how I did. Even after the ow volume of work that I did, I was still sore in the middle back the next day. This is most likely due to the fact that I have been using so many conventional training implements (barbells, dumbbells) that my back is not used to stabilizing against such a dynamic load.
But that is actually the whole idea with Odd Object Training. It makes your body work harder than with regular equipment, so it helps you develop even more as an athlete or strength enthusiast.
Naturally, when you first start out with Odd Object Training, you’ll want to start out light and gradually move up as you get used to the demands of the Odd Objects. A good starter weight for most gals is about 50-lbs and for guys, about 80-lbs. That kind of weight with these bulky implements with give you a good introduction.
If you are interested in learning more about Odd Object Training, make sure you sign up for my newsletter, because more information will be coming your way.
If you have any questions on Odd Object Training, be sure to leave them below.
All the best in your training.
Tags: keg lifting, keg training, odd objects, sandbag lifting, sandbag training, stone lifting, stone training
Posted in athletic strength training lift odd objects, how to develop strength, how to improve fitness and conditioning, how to improve strength, old strongman feats of strength, overhead lifting, stone lifting, strongman training log stone tire farmer | 2 Comments »
Although that thing looks like a toilet, the stamps says “Stone Lifting.”
The first time I touched Atlas Stones was in my first ever strongman competition in 2003 at Total Performance Sports. Prior to that we used Kegs in our training in order to assimilate the stone lifting technique.
Ever since that first competition, I have loved Stone Lifting. It became something I would do on a nearly weekly basis every year from the time the weather broke in April until the time the weather got too cold to train outside in the Fall every year. And then sometimes, we’d just train inside.
I was seeing some pretty good success both in training with the atlas stones and in competition, many times winning the event at the strongman contests I was competing in.
Then, around 2006, all my buddies seemed to have lost interest in doing strongman, so if I was going to train, I was going to be alone doing it. Training alone is cool and all, but it’s even cooler with buddies challenging one another and talking some serious trash.
If I remember right, I peaked on atlas stones with a lift of a 405-lb stone in the Summer of 2007, but then I didn’t really train them again until the Fall of 2009. And that was the last time I trained them…
Lately, the stones have been calling my name. Each time I walk past them, I would think to myself, “The next time it’s nice out during training time, I’m coming out here and lifting some stones.
I got down to the gym the other day – it was a day for Axle work, back, and some other stuff. I went through my normal routine of systematic warm-up, then on to Axle, and then my Grip Training.
But when it came time to train back, I was like, “SCREW IT – I’m going outside to lift those stones – that will be my back workout today.”
DIESELS, I can’t even describe in words how fun it was to get out on the stones again. It brought back so many memories of training with my friends, listening to loud music, talking smack to everyone, strongman comps, and barbecuing steaks.
I got the whole stone lifting session on film, so you will see it below.
I have no idea what the first three stones in the video weigh. They were marked at one time, but weather and the passing of time wore those chicken scratches off long ago. So, I arranged them by size and went to work.
Questions on Stone Lifting
In the comments section of the video, I received some questions, so what I thought I’d do is paste them below and answer them for you guys. Here are the first couple…
Do you ever shoulder the stones Jedd?
Sure – shouldering is a good drill to do with Atlas Stones. I like shouldering because it requires more hip explosion and is a faster movement. When you explode with hips, you are able to propel the stone upwards and create more momentum. Then, if you are quick and agile with your hands, you can usually place the stone up on top of your shoulder with just two or three quick movements of the hands.
We cover Atlas Stone Shouldering in our DVD, Stone Lifting Fundamentals, as a way to replicate the explosive qualities of the Olympic Lifts using an odd object instead of the regular bar.
I didn’t do any shouldering in this particular workout, simply because it had been so long since the last time I trained stones. I wanted to stick with the basic techniques on this occasion, but I definitely will do some shouldering soon.
Doesn’t stone lifting go against the rules of deadlifting when it comes to not rounding your back?
Yes, Stone lifting does differ from deadlifting as far as the back angle is concerned. In deadlifting, most people will tell you to avoid rounding, and I would agree with them when deadlifting. However, stone lifting is a bit different.
First off, it is almost impossible to lift a stone without modifying your back angle to a degree. This is because you have to reach your hands way down to the ground. In the deadlift, you are not reaching down that far, so it is much easier to avoid the rounding.
Second, the shape of the stone forces you to take a different grip on it. As you’ll see, the hands and forearms go down along the sides of the stone and you pick it up by both flexing the wrist to brace beneath the stone, and by clamping in with the chest, to compress with the upper arms onto the sides of the stone. This requires a forward torso angle in order to accomplish.
If you keep your torso upright while lifting stones, I think it would put a great deal of pressure on the bicep attachments, and could cause a tear.
Third, when lifting stones, most people incorporate a transitional phase in the lift where the stone is propped on the lap while a re-grip is taking place. The reason this is important to this discussion is because it may seem like a round back is being used from the point of lift-off to the point of loading (high chest), but this is slightly misleading, because while re-gripping the stone, you can also re-position your lumbar spine for a more straight to lordotic curve, which is safer on the back.
Everyone is always stressing good form and not rounding the back while deadlifting. How do you feel about that when stone lifting is the complete opposite?
Because Stone Lifting is, without a doubt, much different from deadlifting, I think it is best to work your way up slowly in stone weight, volume of stone work, and speed of stone work.
For instance, beginners at Stone Lifting should start out with very light stones, and perhaps even start with an abbreviated range of motion and then gradually work toward pulling the stone from the ground or floor. This will enable the beginner stone lifter to slowly get used to the forces and positions involved in stone lifting, which they most likely have never done with a great deal of resistance before. It will help them develop proper technique as well.
If there is any question as to proper stone lifting technique, then I suggest you pick up our DVD, Stone Lifting Fundamentals, which will show you exactly how to begin doing stone lifting with proper form.
It’s a good practice for beginners or people who have not lifted stones in quite some time to limit the volume of stone work they do. I, for instance, knew that I hadn’t done this in a long time, so I didn’t do a lot of volume with the lighter stones. I mainly used them to ready my body, mind, and CNS for the heavier stones. By limiting the volume, you are able to keep your form tight from the beginning to the end of the workout. Doing too much volume too soon in the stone lifting workout could wear out the postural muscles in the back, and then put you at risk for poor form near the end of the stone workout.
As far as the risk of hurting the back, sure, there is a chance. However, there is also a chance to hurt your back in the deadlift as well. I can tell you this, I have never hurt my back by lifting atlas stones. I have, however, hurt my back on many occasions performing the deadlift.
I did notice, while watching my footage after lifting the stones, that my hips are a bit tight to really get where I want to at the beginning of the stone pull. I like to get a little lower with the hips on the initial pull, which helps me to keep my lower back straighter.
I hope this has been helpful. There were some more questions in the comments section of the video – I have not forgotten about them – I just don’t want to overload anyone with new information, so expect another installment of questions to come along here soon.
If you like info on Strongman Training, make sure to subscribe for my Strongman Training Updates in the form below.
All the best in your training,
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Tags: atlas stone training, atlas stones, stone lifting, stone training, strongman training
Posted in athletic strength training lift odd objects, stone lifting, strength training to improve athletic performance, strongman competition training, strongman feats, strongman training for athletes, strongman training log stone tire farmer | 5 Comments »
Beginner Atlas Stone Lifting Information
Atlas Stone lifting is something many get excited about and for good reason. The thought of lifting an object that is not meant to be lifted, absent the advantages of holes, handles, crevices, or edges would excite even the strongest individuals in the world. Propelling a perfectly round heavy Atlas Stone either to your shoulder or on to a barrel can be extremely rewarding, especially if it is a personal record.
Pre-Requisites to Stone Lifting
What I’m going to share are beginning techniques related to strongman Atlas Stone lifting. Notice, I emphasize the word “strongman” not “weakman” because this is about max effort. If you’re not familiar with max effort training with iron then you really aren’t ready for attempting max effort stone lifting. Atlas Stones are not designed to be lifted, barbells and dumbbells are.
This being said, you, the novice, should progress at lifting weights first. This way when you do start stone lifting you will go in ready with the needed foundation both physically and mentally.
At times lifters come to visit me at our Slater Strength Club and want me to instruct them on lifting Atlas Stones. I never assume that because a man is not massively developed that he has not spent time weight training. I always ask “How long have you been training?” If the answer isn’t definitive, or doesn’t directly address the question, and the answer is along the lines of, “Ahh a few months or something like that.”
I then tell them that they’re not ready for such a challenge so “Let’s do some deadlifts.” I take this route as not to spoil what will be a good thing by lifting stones too early.
I always suggest that beginners weight train until they develop a good base then attempt the challenge of stone lifting. My first rule of thumb is this: if your deadlift is not yet 160 kg or 350 lbs then continue to weight train progressively and build up your basic strength.
The New Stone Lifter’s First Stone
BEGINNERS: Click the image above to check out the Stone Lifting Fundamentals DVD
Once your basic strength is there, I suggest picking a 16″ atlas stone for starters. This stone should weigh around 170-180 lbs and is an optimal size for developing motor skills and technique. If you choose a lighter one it should only be for warm ups if you’re doing traditional Atlas Stone lifting.
Warm-up for Stones
For warm ups I prefer band exercises for the biceps and back. I also include roller work massage such as Self Myo-Fascial Release (SMR) that targets the back, biceps, glutes and hamstrings. After that I will move into light stones. This will get me warmed up and ready to lift safely.
Further Preparation: Tape and Tacky – Yes or No?
I like to tape my forearms, using athletic tape though some use duct tape. If you want, shave your forearms to keep the tape from slipping. The tape will grip your skin much better if the hair is removed and the addition of a pre-spray on your forearms will provide for good adhesion.
I like Rugby Spray Wax by Trimona as a pre-spray, available on StrongmanStuff.com. I flex my forearm and then tape it, starting just below the elbow and working my way to my wrist. Once it is taped I relax my forearm and then pat down and smooth the tape to my skin. Flexing the forearm prior to taping will prevent the tape from being too tight and If done correctly, the tape will stick well.
I learned from Team Boss Strongman’s Rick Freitag to tape the forearms not so much to help the grip but to cut off the signal of pain. If you are in pain them the mind is fighting the pain and not focusing on the lift.
Apply tacky or handball wax (pine resin) to get a better grip. Personally I like PR Champions Blend Tacky because it is made in Ohio and I’m from Ohio. It is a very good general weather tacky but most other tacky works well too. I apply some on my hands, fingers and forearms and at times onto my chest, especially during competitions. This helps to keep the stone from spinning off of the chest.
When you first start stone lifting apply a slight amount just to get a feel for it as you will learn quickly how much you like to use. I do believe the use of tacky can reduce the strain on soft tissue.
Safety Points for Beginner Stone Lifters
As for lifting the stones, there are some basic precautions to be concerned with for the safety of the lifter and those in the vicinity of the stones.
It goes without saying that new lifters should always consult a health care provider prior to starting any exercise program. Especially since stone lifting differs so greatly from other forms of resistance training, it just makes sense to make sure your doctor okay’s that you give it a try.
You may choose to lift it over a large diameter bar that is fixed so it will not spin. For example, we lift the stone over an adjustable strongman yoke bar. We also use solid platforms made out of wood. You can fasten wood pallets on top of each other, and then fasten plywood to the front or around all sides. There is a great wood platform on StrongmanStuff.com. We sometimes use whiskey barrels or oil drums, but if you do use a barrel be sure to avoid pinching your fingers on the lip!
Steve MacDonald, WR Stone Lift Over Bar
That is Steve Slater kneeling near the platform, on the left
Whatever you choose to lift the stone onto or over, either a large non rotating bar or a platform, make sure that it is stable. With all platforms please use caution making sure the back side of the platform is braced. This will insure platform stablility so it should not tip if the stone hits it. Once you’re more experienced and stronger you can work on shouldering the stones.
At Slater Strength Club all novice lifters are forbidden to twist with the stone during the lift. The risk of injury far outweighs any benefits.
Once you get the stone to the tip of the platform you may begin to struggle to place it on the top. During the struggle to get past the “tip point”, avoid pausing in that vulnerable position for more than a few seconds and no matter how difficult the struggle to complete the lift, do not twist in order to get the stone to the top of the platform.
You may be tempted to do this but this potentially dangerous maneuver should be avoided. Additional strength and experience will get you past this critical point in the lift. Atlas Stone lifting with a grouped series of stones is less about struggling at the top but rather an example of utilizing one’s strength with precision.
Don’t practice struggling at the top, practice a precise finish. A precise and fast finish wins competitions. As with any lift there are some risks, but the benefits of safe stone lifting far outweigh the risks.
Time to Lift Some Stones
I hope that this information helps you make the move into Atlas Stone lifting so you can continue to make great strength gains and appreciate this awesome raw form of training.
Stone lifting makes you seriously strong, ruggedly strong, and for lack of a better expression, “animal strong.” Simply stated, if a good stone lifter puts his hands on a man of above average size, even one flailing and squirming to resist, he could place him on his shoulders, run with him and squeeze the crap out of him in seconds! He could probably even press him over his head and toss him high or far. That is stone lifter strength and as stone lifter Bill Crawford says “stone lifting makes you strong in ways that only stones can.”
Further Atlas Stone and Strongman Training Information
Tags: atlas stone lifting, atlas stones, stone lifting, stone training, strongman stone
Posted in athletic strength training lift odd objects, feats of strength, stone lifting, strongman competition training, strongman training for athletes, strongman training log stone tire farmer | No Comments »
Today I have an awesome guest post from Steve Slater. Steve and I teamed up on the Intro to Strongman Training DVD and he recently put together an article on how he approaches Stone Lifting when he works with new guys in the sport. I just did a Strongman Workshop with Steve two weekends ago and he is loaded with knowledge on Strongman. Look for more articles and videos from Steve down the line. Enjoy!
Atlas Stone Training for Beginner Strongman Competitors
Atlas Stones are a fundamental test of strength in many strongman competitions, and they have also become a staple among strength training enthusiasts who are looking for the ultimate strength workout.
Stones literally tax everything from head to toe. In fact, try not contracting any major muscle group like your legs, glutes, back, chest or biceps during a stone lift, and let’s see if the stone even comes off the ground – fat chance.
When it comes to Atlas Stone training, you’ve just got to know how to do it right! So let’s get into that right now.
LEARNING THE STONES
It’s time to get your hands on some stones and get to work.
At first, it can be easy to get frustrated with atlas stones as they fight you the whole way up. Since they are round, they make your job of lifting them very difficult, and once they start to get loose on you, they often win the battle.
Learning how to conquer the atlas stones takes time and requires understanding the proper technique. Once you master the technique you then can really start to work on using the stones to take you to a new level of fitness.
Stone lifting is generally done by pulling the stone from the ground and either placing it on top of a platform or barrel, or it is put over a bar of a designated height (usually 4 feet or higher). Whatever you choose to lift the stone onto or over, make sure that it is stable. Here are some examples of loading strategies we have used.
Normally, we lift the stone over an adjustable strongman yoke bar. We also at times use solid platforms to load several stones one after the other. To make the platforms, we fastened wood pallets on top of each other, and attached plywood to the front and around all sides. We sometimes use whiskey barrels or oil drums, but if you use a barrel watch out for the lip, as it can be a finger pincher.
With all platforms, please use caution making sure the back side of the platform is braced; this will keep the platform stable so it will not tip if the stone hits it. Once you’re more experienced you can work on shouldering the lighter stones. Incidentally, the world record for a shouldered stone is held by Derek Poundstone. In 2009 he shouldered a massive stone in the range of 420 lbs.
If you practice stone shouldering, make sure you use plenty of rubber mats to drop the stones on. At our club we use four of the 5/8” thick stall mats with plywood under them so we can just drop the stones off of our shoulder or the top platforms without damaging the floor or the stones.
As for lifting the stones, there are some basic cautions to be concerned with for safety.
I have seen athletes twist at the top of a stone load. If you are going heavy or you are doing reps to failure for conditioning, once you get the stone to the tip of the platform, do not pause in that top position longer than a few seconds, and do not twist in order to try to get it onto the platform, as accidents have happened at this point before.
HEIGHT OF PLATFORM
If you use a platform for stone loading, for most stone training I think it is best to use a platform that is around sternum height or somewhere below. This is a good position, especially if you are training for a particular sport that requires hip drive and/or triple extension like a football player exploding off the line of scrimmage or a swimmer leaping off the diving block.
As a variation and progression from the normal platform, we also sometimes use a hanging target. It may be a jump stretch band or a large rope hanging from a rafter or a power rack. We dangle the band or rope from the rack as a goal upon which to touch the stone. When you touch the top of the stone to the bottom of the band, you have achieved your goal. You can also have a partner pull the band/rope up slightly after each successful rep, so you try to increase the height on each rep.
LEARNING THE TECHNIQUE
I will discuss the best way that I have found to lift an Atlas Stone, although we all may lift them slightly differently.
In training, strive to keep good form so you can strengthen your body using the safest way of lifting. As for myself, when it comes to lifting the stone, I first position the stone about 6”-8” away from what I may be loading it onto. I then face the Atlas Stone and straddle my feet over it so that my calves are around 1” from it on both sides. I make sure I stand almost directly over the stone so the balls of my feet are positioned at the center point of it.
Next, I squat down to near parallel, grabbing the stone with my arms straight down and hug the center of it with my forearms and hands trying to get my fingers as far under the stone as possible without smashing them. My finger nails will likely be touching the ground at this point.
I then squeeze hard with my fingers, hands, forearms and begin to pull with my legs and entire back. This is when I think of contracting with everything I have. My legs straighten slightly as the stone begins to come up, although the legs are never completely straight. As the stone starts to pass my knees, I then re-bend my knees back into a near parallel squat and I roll the stone onto my lap. If possible, I also may try to walk my feet in slightly. Since I’m resting the stone on my lap, bringing the feet together will position the stone higher on the abdomen when I start the second part of the lift.
From here, I will reposition my hands more towards the top of the stone maybe about 1/3rd of the way up but not all the way on top or the stone will drop down. Your palms will not be facing each other any longer. They are now angled more towards the ground. I squeeze the stone again and press it against my chest so my chin is as far over the stone as possible. Then I will dip forward and down slightly to get a stretch reflex and pull back explosively with my upper body, forcefully standing up and driving my hips forward.
If I am just lifting the stone to the high chest and then returning it to the floor, I try to keep the center of the stone directly over my feet and lean back slightly to keep my balance. If I am loading the stone to a platform or over a marker, then I will propel it upward and forward, as shown in the image above. If loading on the platform, I also quickly reposition my arms just in case I don’t quite make it and I have to push it fully onto the platform.
You now have an idea on technique. Let’s look at how to train with the stones.
For a beginner workout, I suggest you work with a light stone and focus on reps so you get used to the proper technique as well as conditioning your muscles for something they are not used to doing.
Even if you are a very strong athlete, I suggest that you keep to a stone around 200lbs or under to start with. If you are in good condition and you are new to stone lifting, try not to exceed a stone that is anything above 70% of your bodyweight. In other words, if your bodyweight is 100lbs, use about a 70lb stone, or if you weigh around 180lbs you would use about a 130lb stone, plus or minus a few pounds.
Take this stone and load it for 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps and 2-3 times per week for the first three weeks so you work on technique and conditioning. You may be tempted to go heavier, but just remember the best is yet to come so take it slow. Just try to improve your technique with the lighter stone.
For a stone workout that is centered on hardcore conditioning, you might try the following variations. Pick out a lighter stone and break the stone lifting technique down into segments. You will do the following stone lifting segment work for 3 sets of 10 reps.
The first 10 reps will be the LAP, SQUAT, DROP drill. To begin, pick up the stone, LAP it to the SQUAT position and stand up driving hard with the hips, pushing the stone upward and forward as high as you can. Then, DROP the stone on rubber mats and repeat.
For the next 10 reps, try the LAP, SQUAT and RETURN drill. In this drill, you will LAP the stone, SQUAT it up, and then this time RETURN the stone under control to your lap. Do this for 10 reps but DO NOT drop the stone.
Rest again and for the last 10 reps, do the LAP AND DROP drill, lapping the stone and then dropping it back down between your legs. Repeat this for 10 reps.
If you still have some gas in the tank, you might also finish off with 10 reps of bent over rows with an even lighter stone.
Start light with this series of drills because this can leave you exhausted and sore for days.
As you can see, Atlas Stone lifting can be a very beneficial practice that can quickly have you building muscle, burning calories, and becoming more powerful. This is particularly helpful for power and combat athletes that need to drive with the lower body, and also certain professions such as Law Enforcement and Corrections Officers who have to be able to subdue perpetrators.
With all the benefits of stone training, there are some risks involved, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. As you train, start out light and use caution. Also, condition yourself to the stresses of stone lifting. As you progress, you can add equipment into the mix such as loading platforms, hanging targets, and drop areas, and before you know it you will be performing drills for speed, explosiveness, and conditioning. In time, you will be extremely rugged.
For more information on Atlas Stone training and many other types of Strongman Training events, please check out my Strongman DVD, Introduction to Strongman Training. Loaded with technique and safety tips, I can show you how to correctly train like a Strongman or Strongwoman. And whether you ever enter a competition or not, you will definitely be a stronger version of yourself in no time.
Click here for the Introduction to Strongman DVD
Tags: atlas stone lifting, atlas stone training, atlast stones, stone lifting, stone training, stones
Posted in athletic strength training lift odd objects, core training workouts, how to improve fitness and conditioning, stone lifting, strength training to improve athletic performance, strongman competition training, strongman training for athletes, strongman training log stone tire farmer | 10 Comments »
Stone Lifting is a part of many strongman contests.
If you don’t know what you are doing, you can get your ass handed to you and end up with serious injuries.
It was for this reason that Smitty and I set out to put together a resource that new strongman competitors could use to learn the proper techniques for lifting atlas stones.
The idea was to produce something that would give new competitors the information they needed to keep them safe and injury free in the beginning and then go on to dominate as time went on.
A while back, we received this testimonial / review about our Stone Lifting Fundamentals DVD from Rob Russell in Yorkshire. Check out what he had to say, below.
CHECK OUT THIS KILLER POST AFTER THE JUMP (more…)
Tags: atlas stones, stone lifting, stone training, strongman, strongman stones
Posted in athletic strength training lift odd objects, feats of strength, strongman competition training, strongman feats, strongman training for athletes, strongman training log stone tire farmer | 2 Comments »
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