Taping the Forearms for Stone LiftingMonday, June 29th, 2009
Thanks for coming to the Diesel site today. I hope you had an extraordinary weekend!
This past weekend, I watched my first strongman contest in about a year and a half and it was a great time. Man I miss competing!
I didn’t get to see the whole thing, but I did catch the dumbbell press for reps and then the stone event.
I noticed some things I want to talk about so maybe I can help some dudes out…
All the strongman contests I did that had the atlas stones in them required the lifter to pick the stones up and place them on top of a platform. This event was run another way, where the athlete has to pop the stones up over a bar about 50 inches high. Pretty cool!
Regardless of the loading technique, one thing that caught my eye was how the athletes were ( or were not) wrapping their forearms.
When I lift atlas stones, I wrap my forearms with sports tape. I talk about this in our Stone Lifting DVD. Wrapping the arms in sports tape accomplishes two things: it serves as a removable base for your tacky and it offers skin protection against scrapes.
REMOVABLE BASE FOR TACKY
The main reason I strongly suggest wrapping the forearms for the stones is because it serves as a nice removable base for tacky.
Almost every strongman competitor I know of uses tacky. The only ones who don’t are not able to maintain the same competitive level as the ones who do because they have to try harder just to lift the stone off the ground.
The whole idea behind using tacky is to help you lock onto the stone when pulling it off the ground and when loading it onto the platform or over the bar. The bad thing is that it can be a pain in the ass to get off. While rubbing Baby Oil on it will take it off, it requires quite a bit of rubbing to break up the components of the tacky. You can make it a lot easier on yourself to clean the tacky off by applying it to the layer of tape on your forearms, as opposed to applying it to your skin and then rubbing it off.
Another reason for wrapping the forearms is to protect the skin. The stones can be very rough and will literally rip the outer layers of the epidermis off your arms. I spoke about this with one of the competitors who had not wrapped his arms and his reply was “I’m tough. I can handle it. It’ll heal.”
Yes, it will heal if you scrape the skin off your forearms, but that isn’t the point. The reason to cover your arms with tape is so that you don’t end up with any distractions while lifting the stones.
You have enough to worry about as a strongman competitor: the crowd daring you to go heavier and faster, maintaining your technique, keeping your breathing regulated. All this stuff is racing through your head while you are trying to load the stones. Do you really need to feel the pain of the stone tearing your skin in addition to all of that?
Even minor pain can be enough of a distraction that can knock you off your game. If the main contact points of your forearms get scraped on the third stone, what are you going to do, change the way you lift the next two? Mid-run through the stones, modify your technique? I don’t think so.
That very athlete that said he was tough enough to go without tape on his forearms, also failed to load the stone that would have given him sole possession of first place in that event. Oh, and I glanced at his left forearm after the event, too, and he had a giant strawberry scrape mark on it that looked like the road rash dudes get when they fall off their motorcycle. There is no way that he was completely 100% focused on lifting and popping the stone over the bar today when his skin was getting ripped off his arm.
Take my advice – wrap your forearms with some tape the next time you train or compete in stones and your performance will improve.
Another thing I noticed was that some competitors were wrapping their forearms not in sports tape, but in duct tape. This, I thought, was a serious mistake because duct tape is smooth. It seems like that would work against you in the stones, and it looked like the handful of competitors with duct tape on their arms were having a hard time with this.
To the contrary, sports tape has a moderate texture and natural stickiness to it. Sports tape, in my experience, even without tacky, will give you a little better grip on most stones than bare skin alone. The only stones that I have lifted that felt easier to lift with bare skin than with tape on the forearms are the polished granite spheres I have lifted at Pat Povilaitis’s house. Their ultra smooth surface seemed to grip better against the forearms than other atlas stones made from concrete poured into plastic molds, which the vast majority of strongman event atlas stones are made of.
I go over all of this and more in our Stone Lifting DVD. I firmly believe that the information on that disk will help anyone become a better stone lifter, especially new guys who are just getting into the sport, but I’d love to hear how you feel about this wrapping deal.
I know a lot of strongman competitors come to the Diesel site, so I’d like to know what you all think.
Should you wrap your arms or leave them bare?
Should you wrap with sports tape or duct tape? Something else?
Weigh in with how you feel. You may just end up helping somebody improve on the stones as well.
All the best in your training,