Strongman Robert Oberst Shares Tips and Tricks for Lifting Atlas Stones

Oberst is prepping for his return to strongman competition and giving insight into how he loads stones.

Getting insight from a sport’s top athlete can be a gold mine for improving in the gym and in competition. On July 16, 2022, strongman Robert Oberst took to his YouTube channel to share the tricks he uses to improve his Atlas Stone lifts in training and how he adjusts them when competing in elite contests.

Oberst is prepping to lead Team USA at the 2022 World’s Strongest Nation contest against Team UK led by 2017 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) Eddie Hall. Below are the tips that Oberst uses to level up his Atlas Stones performance and how he might attack Team UK come Nov. 26, 2022, in Liverpool, England. Check it out in the video below:

[Related: Strongwoman Rhianon Lovelace Breaks World Deadlift Record at 2022 Berkshire’s Strongest Contest]

Refining and Finding the Grip

Oberst’s Atlas Stone training is a bit cleaner than one might expect because he tries not to use tacky in training if he can help it. He stated that many of the best stone loaders in the world will avoid tacky in the gym to help build their grip come competition, though he didn’t name anyone specifically.

Without tacky…which helps you squeeze better, grip harder. Hopefully, [I] get better with it.

Despite the lack of tacky usage, Oberst isn’t going to lose too much skin on his forearms, thanks to a hidden grip found on most Atlas Stones. Although not always the case, many contests use stones that have a flat spot on their base so they won’t roll on uneven surfaces. Some contests, like WSM and the Shaw Classic, use spherical stones that are placed on coasters to maintain placement, but every other competition in Oberst’s experience has involved stones that have a flat base.

That [flat] spot might as well be a handle.

By tilting the stone to one side, Oberst slips his hand so the base of his fingers lines up with the curve of the stone at its base. This offers a much steadier grip with much less chance of slipping than if the stone didn’t have a lip.


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[Related: Rob Kearney Joins Mat Fraser’s HWPO Training To Lead Strength-Focused Programming]

Lapping and Loading

When lifting stones on the lighter end of the range — elite contests usually have a series of five or six stones that start at just over 200 pounds and reach 400 pounds or more — Oberst thinks about loading the stone by performing a front squat. Once he’s lapped the stone, he will hug it as tight to his body as he can and effectively front squat it to the designated pedestal.

With stones that are too heavy for the front-squat method, Oberst uses the cue of a hip thrust or weightlifter’s clean. Once the stone is lapped, rather than front squat it, he will send his hips back as far as possible and then drive them forward to launch the stone up onto its pedestal. The former method is more of a strict lift, while the latter uses momentum.

While the hip extension method is a good tool to have in the arsenal, Oberst advocates for using the front-squat method as much as possible as that is the more reliable way to load a stone. Using momentum exposes the lifter to be more likely to drop the stone or the stone slipping out of their grip, and is overall a more risky maneuver.

Oberst has and continues to talk a big game about beating Hall in November despite the 2017 WSM having home-field advantage. We’ll see if Oberst can strengthen his stone loading to beat back up his trash talk. 

Featured image: @robertoberst on Instagram