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