If you're like me, you don't have easy access to a Stone of Steeltm, but you've probably seen them on your Instagram feed or in strongman competitions. You're probably curious how different they are to a regular atlas stone, and if you need to train with one. I was fortunate enough to train with Pro Strongwoman Jessica Kite, who (OMG) owns her own Stone of Steeltm! I am excited to share my experience to help anyone who may be wondering what Stone of Steeltm is like. There are also a couple worthy articles out there and a video tutorial, which I'll link below.
Currently, the Stone of Steeltm comes in two sizes (17 inch and 20 inch) available online at Mike Bartos Power Center. We used the 17 inch Stone of Steeltm today and it was pretty amazing! The stone itself is made of steel, as the name implies. It comes apart into two main semi-spheres and has a loadable pin on the inside of one side. The stone comes equipped with a tool to efficiently take the stone apart and to put it back together. The empty stone weighs about 110 lbs, but we were able to load it to 150 lbs, 175 lbs, and 210 lbs using some 35 lb, 10 lb, and 5 lb plates. I was eager to try the Stone of Steeltm, but apprehensive about how difficult it might be.
For perspective, I have trained stones for about 3 years now and have used homemade concrete atlas stones of varying sizes. The largest and heaviest stone I have had in my lap is a 230 lb stone, and that was quite a long time ago! I have always trained with tacky and taped my forearms. I have never lifted a stone heavier than 150 lbs without some form of tacky and taped arms.
The Stone of Steeltm is made of a matte metal with a smooth finish, but not as smooth as a fresh traditional stone. Using the Stone of Steeltm requires you to go without tacky. This makes the Stone of Steeltm a bit more challenging. However, you are allowed to use a grip enhancing golf towel that does give a very slight tackiness to your hands and arms. The texture makes it less slick, and the golf towel helps enough that it's worth using it. However, I found that it was nowhere near as helpful as a good tacky.
In talking with Jessica, she explained how she thinks the Stone of Steeltm is a bit harder than a traditional stone. It makes sense. You're not allowed in a competition setting to use as much of an aide to grip the stone and get it off the floor. In addition, the stone itself is not conditioned as a well-used traditional atlas stone would be, so it does tend to slide from your chest. I found that I had to adjust how I picked it up from the ground as well as the way I wrapped my arms around it from my lap position to get the stone over the bar.
Being good at Stone of Steeltm requires that an athlete works on deficiencies they may have already noticed using regular atlas stones with tacky. Having a strong back and chest will definitely help get the Stone of Steeltm off the floor with a good squeeze. I found myself "hugging" the Stone of Steeltm (with my chest on the stone and elbows at about 45 degrees) from the ground. Once it's lapped, your arms cannot "pull" the stone up as you would with a traditional stone and tacky. The golf towel tacky is not enough and the stone drops under you and it slides from your chest. You have to get it high and tight on your chest, and squeeze it into you with your arms around the stone and not over the stone. Then it's fast hips, explode, and push it over the bar!
Overall, I really loved the Stone of Steeltm. The unique design and durability make sense. Every gym owner who has stones should look at investing in at least one, maybe more! The fact that they are loadable makes it extremely easy to change the overall weight of the stone which helps for training variety. Perhaps the only drawback to having just one Stone of Steeltm is that you can't run a stone series of stones of varying weights unless you have multiple Stone of Steeltm. But there are definitely ways around that in using your traditional stones without tacky, or just doing a series with the traditional stones and working technique with Stone of Steeltm.
I am extremely grateful that I got to use one in training and can't wait to do it again. If you know of a gym who has their own, you should definitely make the trip to try it out. I was hesitant at first because I've always thought that tacky did a lot of the work for me. But Stone of Steeltm was not as hard as I thought it would be! I worked up to a double at 210 lbs and lapped it for a third time (it slid off my chest on the third attempt). This was only my first attempt at using Stone of Steeltm and I firmly believe that more practice would help me perfect getting it over the bar.
This right here folks. This is what it's all about "you do it for three then I'm gonna have to do it for three..." I've never met a fellow strongwoman who wouldn't give me encouragement and in turn, we drive each other to do more. It's magic. I hit stone of steel today for a double at 210# and lapped the third (not shown). Nevermind that I walked away and Kite had to think fast to save the stone from running away. Lol. Oops. It was a lot of fun!! Much cheese. So nerdy. Giddy like a school girl. #strongwoman #strongman #startingStrongman #belleOfTheBar #thesoxbox #liftHeavy #strengthathlete #stone #stoneOfSteel @jkite83
There is a definite appeal to contest promoters to use Stone of Steeltm, but some still believe nothing quite beats a good traditional tacky atlas stone series. To be a well rounded strongWOman or strongman, it would be good to frequently practice both. As with all things strongman, we can't really get enough variety. When you do practice with Stone of Steeltm for the first time, be prepared for it to bounce! That was what surprised me the most! Even if loaded heavily, it still gets some good air. :-)
After only one day with the Stone of Steeltm, I know that repeated training with it will increase my mastery of traditional atlas stones. Have you trained with Stone of Steeltm? What are your thoughts? Which type of stone do you prefer? Share in the comments!
Special thanks and shout out to the most amazing and kind strongWOman Jessica BADASS Kite for once again inviting me to train and letting me check out your amazing new toy!
Read or watch about Stone of Steeltm online:
Read an excellent article by Cara Brennan on BarBend