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Strength Events

  • Stone Sphere Lifting

    Atlas Stone Lift Sequence PHoto 1 EVENT: A Gathering of Stone Lifters
    163 Pound Granite Sphere Sequence 1 - Roger LaPointe

    Stone lifting is such an ancient sport that the ancient Egyptians made record it. I have a small course on stone sphere lifting from India that was printed in the early 1950s, but that is apparently a reprint from a much earlier physical culture article, date unknown. There is clearly much older recorded stone ball lifting from the Basques, Greeks, Celts and Chinese. Basically, this is not new stuff, but it is also enduring.

    Of course, real stone will stay around for thousands of years. More than that, it is a form of sport that ties us to the past. You can go to Scotland and lift manhood stones that have been lifted by generations of athletes. Even when you don't lift a known lifting stone, there is still that primitive tie to the past. It is a basic movement that is appealing on its own merit, both for fitness purposes and because it is simply enjoyable. Talk to anyone who has played with real stones and you will see it in their eyes.

    EVENT: A Gathering of Stone Lifters 163 Pound Granite Sphere Sequence 2 - Roger LaPointe EVENT: A Gathering of Stone Lifters
    163 Pound Granite Sphere Sequence 2 - Roger LaPointe


    Stone Sphere Lifting Technique

    There are really two different ways to lift a stone ball and the methodology you use will be highly dependent on your goal and the type of lifting in your background.  My formal lifting training is as an Olympic lifter, which fits with the fast, explosive style of the Basques.


    Many people have tried to pin the Basque Weightlifters in to lifting categories, stones are merely another type of weight in their culture, but that is a real disservice.  Instead, one needs to think of the object and the objective.  For stone balls, they typically lift only one, but they do it for repetitions in a fixed time period, for example: 1, 2, or 3 minutes.  A 100 Kg granite ball would be typical.

    EVENT: A Gathering of Stone Lifters 163 Pound Granite Sphere Sequence 3 - Roger LaPointe EVENT: A Gathering of Stone Lifters
    163 Pound Granite Sphere Sequence 3 - Roger LaPointe

    Their style, for this type of contest would be like an Olympic weightlifter doing power cleans with a barbell, for repetitions.  It's all about speed with a relatively easy weight.


    The second style of stone sphere lifting is more slow strength than speed oriented.  Think of the Olympic weightlifter who cleans a barbell and sits in the bottom, readjusts then easily stands up with it for the jerk.  You can almost think of the clean as a two part movement.  With a stone ball, most guys would re-adjust the arms while the stone is sitting in the lap.  Sometimes, you will hear a stone lifter say that a guy lapped the ball, but couldn't stand up with it.  In the Basque style, there is no "lapping" the ball.  It goes straight to the shoulder.

    Stones are not made for pushing records. Even

    EVENT: A Gathering of Stone Lifters 163 Pound Granite Sphere Sequence 4 - Roger LaPointe EVENT: A Gathering of Stone Lifters
    163 Pound Granite Sphere Sequence 4 - Roger LaPointe

    stones that have been cut and shaped by man are simple basic shapes. As much as I like Olympic lifting, barbells are made to be efficiently lifted for the purpose of pushing record attempts. There are no needle bearings for a granite ball. It is simply a spherically cut piece of granite. The Greek stone mason who first carved a granite ball and picked it up is doing the same thing that we did last weekend at Atomic Athletic's “A Gathering of Stone Lifters”.

    The Poster for “A Gathering of Stone Lifters” is available with FREE Shipping right now. Get your copy here:

    All the best,Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

    PS. When you go to the BLOG make sure to check out the upper left column and check out the new VIDEO BLOG section.

  • Classic Strongman Yoke Walk Performance

    Folks, there is nothing new under the sun.  Check out this classic strongman feat of strength called, "The Yoke Walk".  If you would like to see a modern Yoke Walk, try this link:

    Classic strongman Yoke Walk demo.
    The competitive strongman event called "The Yoke Walk" is nothing new! Check out this outstanding old photo from Strength & Health magazine.
  • Marines With Stones!

    The Marine Martial Arts Instructor Trainer division is one of the most intense group of guys you will ever find. When I met with them, for their equipment delivery and seminar on traditional strength

    Olympic Weightlifting Instructions with the Marines
    Marine Martial Arts Instructor Trainers Division - Traditional Strength Training Clinic

    training, I had no idea what to expect. I knew they wanted old school and I knew what they had already purchased.

    How intense are these guys? Well, they brought in their top guy, who summed up the Marine Martial Arts Instructor Trainer Division goal and definition. Marine Martial Arts were defined to me as all the fighting done when the Marine runs out of bullets. His gun is still in his hands and that will be his first choice weapon. Their goal: do any training that will extend his life even one second. Each second added up for 100 men is 100 seconds. That single small time increment can easily turn the tide of a battle and a won battle can win a war.

    So you ask, why did they choose Atomic Athletic? That is a fantastic question and one that I certainly considered. Their answer surprised me. It’s funny, but with their files, they knew more about me than I did!

    My seminar was very strange. It was as much brainstorming as it was training. I have to compliment them. They were the fastest learners I have ever met. Not just mentally, but they physically caught on faster than anyone I have ever seen.

    They wanted to see both the most advanced in free weight strength training and the most basic. They wanted different ideas on how to train individuals and how to train groups. They wanted fine details and basic concepts.

    Several ideas absolutely floored them. These guys were doing R & D for training the elite forces of our military’s trained killers and the concepts I grew up with floored them. This was exactly what they wanted because they felt that for too long there had been too much reliance on a bodybuilding mentality built around strength machines. It was time to go old school and do training that could be done in the middle of nowhere without a gym full of machines.

    Not the concepts.

    The Marines have been polishing their martial arts for over 200 years. I was not going to surprise them with a new concept. Everything is there in the historical record.

    It was the approach that floored the Marines.

    Marine Strongman Globe Dumbbell Curl
    Marine Martial Arts Instructor Trainers Division - Atomic Athletic Traditional Strength Training Clinic:Thick Handled Globe Dumbbell Curl

    I will get to that in later Bomb Proof Bulletins, but it is there in my Stone Lifting Wall Charts. Yes. The Marines are once again lifting stones.

    Get some ideas here:

    If you want to get the feel for real stone lifting, then you just might be someone who would enjoy the Atomic Athletic “A Gathering of Stone Lifters”. It is a new thing for us and unlike anything you have probably been a part of. It will be smaller than than our strongman picnics and should have a completely different feel. Check out the details at this link:

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

    PS. If you enjoyed this Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin, make sure to re-sign up for it, as we are in the process of upgrading it. In a short time, this version will completely disappear and you will no longer get a bulletin, if you do not re-sign up. Here is the link:

  • Detroit Highland Games 2013

    Farmer's Walk Contest: Detroit Highland Games August 3, 2013

    2013 Detroit Highland Games Pro Champion Andy Vincent (R) with Atomic Athletic President Roger LaPointe (L) They Grow 'em Big for the Highland Games!
    2013 Detroit Highland Games Pro Champion Andy Vincent (R) with Atomic Athletic President Roger LaPointe (L)

    Sponsored by Atomic Athletic

    Atomic Athletic Competition Grade Farmers Walk Units: Total Weight 400 Pounds

    Detroit Highland Games Farmers Walk MVI_0340

    Farmers Walk MVI_0339

  • Steel Fitness Clinic With Dr. Ken Leistner

    roger-lapointe-travel-map-logoI originally wrote this article for the Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin January 21, 2003. It's still good stuff today.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe

    Steel Fitness Clinic With Dr. Ken
    by Roger LaPointe
    With almost 100 strength training enthusiasts in attendance, Dr. Ken Leistner started off his strength training seminar at STEEL Fitness with some demonstrations. The January 11, 2003 clinic topic was “Functional Training For Athletes”, with an emphasis on football players. Before getting started, people were already asking what we were going to cover. They played right into Dr. Ken’s hands.

    Dr. Ken Leistner Pressing
    Dr. Ken Leistner pressing a custom Shot Loading Globe Barbell from Atomic Athletic.


    As I did a Steinborn Lift, Dr. Ken said, “Hey, Roger, that’s pretty cool. But I have never seen that move on the football field. I don’t think that’s functional.” Then he did some beautiful Atomic Ball lifts, and it was my turn. “Dr. Ken, that’s some nice stone lifting, but football players are not shaped like granite balls. I don’t really think that’s functional.” Admitting that I was also correct, Dr. Ken read several quotes from noted fitness experts, who strangely contradicted each other as to the definition of functional training. Doc delivered the final blow to the trendy buzzword when he concluded that he should probably have Atomic Athletic design a 15 pound tooth brush, so he could excel at one of his daily activities.

    “Exercises that help one excel at daily activities”, is the only definition of functional training with which all the experts could agree. Clearly, functional training is a meaningless concept. So how does one gain size, get stronger and play better? No matter how you train, and a variety of exercises is best, you must work hard. If you are doing leg presses or dragging an anchor chain, neither one will do anything unless you are pushing yourself hard today and even harder tomorrow. We showed several tapes, including some of Dr. Ken’s private collection with collegiate athletes training with competitive strongman tools, standard gym equipment and even professional Basque stone lifters. The one common element was the driven psyche of each athlete as they pushed the absolute limit.

    Dr. Ken drew on a vast array of knowledge, gained over 40 years in the iron game, as a coach and an athlete. His stories about past greats, and current stars, like New York Giant’s Frank Ferrara, really kept the crowd mesmerized. Dr. Ken even brought individuals out of the crowd for mini workout demonstrations. Throughout the clinic, the reporters from New York Newsday were writing furiously. Keep checking the fitness pages for the Newsday report.

    I would like to thank the staff of STEEL Fitness for inviting me to speak with Dr. Ken. They have a first class facility that would be my first training choice if I lived in the area. It was also an honor for me to be on the same stage with someone who has had such an impact on the sports I love. I highly recommend going to any clinic where Dr. Ken Leistner is involved, the four and one half hours at the clinic flew by.

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