Atlas Stones

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The History of the Atlas Stones

The Atlas Stones are named after the mythical Greek Titan of endurance, Atlas, and derived from an ancient contest where men would lift large stones onto walls of different heights. The Greek Titan Atlas was shown in sculptures carrying a gigantic celestial orb, so this is where the Atlas Stones take their name from. These stones embody the characteristics of successful strongmen.

About the Atlas Stones

The Atlas Stones are a classic strongman event and define a strongman competition. They are usually the most remembered event within the whole competition. This is because they are typically used as the final event to determine the winner, with the competitors paired with their closest rival on the scoreboards to create an exciting and intense ending to the day.

The strongmen are required to lift a number of stone boulders, most commonly five with increasing weights ranging from 160-200kg, onto the same number of platforms with heights varying from 16-33ft. The competitor who manages to lift all five stones in the fastest time wins. If they fail to lift all the stones, the number of stones and the time taken to load them is recorded. There are other types of events using these stones, these events require the strongmen to lift the Atlas Stones and throw them over a bar placed at a certain height. These other events take place within the Arnold Strongman Classic as well as others. Although these events using the same stones are impressive, it does not quite compare to the intensive atmosphere produced by the 5 Atlas Stones event as we know it.

As strongmen get stronger and stronger, the weights of the Atlas Stones continuously increase, as well as the heights of the platforms. In the 1980s the heaviest stone in international competition weighed in at less than 150kg. The weights have rapidly increased with 2011’s World’s Strongest Man competition seeing a 200kg stone in the final. Within the original Strongman competitions, the platforms used to be at waist height but this height has also increased over time as strongmen evolve into even stronger men!

Training for the Atlas Stones event: Training for the atlas event proves difficult for many upcoming strongmen. This is due to not having a solid heavy ball of concreate laying around with no sharp edges that will slice a sports man to pieces. Many people who are serious about training for this even buy an atlas stone. The only downside to purchasing an Atlas Stone, is that you cannot add or take away weight. Meaning if you can’t lift the stone then you have to wait until you grow stronger to use it or if you can lift one that you have purchased with ease, you cannot add more weight. Luckily, there are many strongman gyms popping up around the globe, where you can go to practice these such events. Lifting these stones takes serious practice and technique along with good strength. It is advised before jumping straight into having a go with these stones, that you build your fame and muscles with big compound movements and then take heavy weighted gym balls and practice the techniques of lifting these huge awkward balls. When you see most strongmen lift these stones, they usually bend their back. But unless you are experienced and have built up good, developed back muscles to support you and your spine, this is usually a bad idea for new comers!

If you cannot find any of the big weighted gym balls mentioned above, a good way for beginners to practice, is to get a short gym bar and load one side with big plates (don’t mistake a big plate, for a heavy plate or you may be lifting too much for the first time) and then bear hug the plates and lift them off the ground as if you were to do with an Atlas stone. This way you can get the feel for the awkward uncomfortable lifts. Although this will not replicate the same routine needed with a ball or stone, at least you can start of developing and building the muscles needed to prepare yourself for the stones.


The Guinness Book of Records names Travis Ortmayer as the record holder of the fastest time to lift five atlas stones to a height of 1.5m. However, Guinness neglect to mention the weight of the stones, making it difficult to compare the Texas Stoneman’s 2011 performance with the feats achieved at recent World’s Strongest Man and Giants Live competitions.

Scotland’s Strongest Man, Tom Stoltman has recently set an incredible new world record in the Atlas Stones at Britain’s Strongest Man 2020 with an astonishing 16.01 second run! This is the fastest time set on these set of stones so far, beating Mateusz Kieliskowski’s previous 16.09 second record from 2018.

Date of Event: Name of World Record Holder: Location of Event: Record Time:
Jan 18th 2020 Tom Stoltman FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield 16.01 seconds
Sep 15th 2018 Mateusz Kieliszkowski Giants Live, Manchester Arena 16.09 seconds


Tom Stoltman has just set another world record in May 2020, in the Castle Stone world records attempt of 286Kg. He managed to conquer this 286Kg Stone and remains at the moment “The King of Stones”.

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