As the 2018 Arnold Strongman USA was drawing to a finish, Martins Licis needed to complete five reps on the Stone to Shoulder event to tie for the lead in that event and clinch the win. If you saw a look of confidence on his face when he approached the stone, it was for a reason. This came naturally for the 28 year old strongman.
“My grandfather was a stone sculptor and I grew up helping him move stones and working on the farm,” says Licis. “When I saw the strongman guys on TV lifting these big stones and logs, I thought ‘I can do that.’”
Martins Licis Stats
Weight: 345 pounds
City: Los Angeles, California
While he may have had a natural knack for moving stones, there are ways to train for the lift as well.
“Whatever the weight is of the stone you’re trying to lift, you have to be able to front squat that weight for several reps.” Starting at six months out from his competition, he’ll do these on his leg day training and work up to doing front squats up to 25% more than the expected weight of the.
“I’ll do these without a pause at six months out – working up to five sets of ten reps. Five and four months out I’ll change to five sets of five and do a pause at the bottom since I may need to do the same with the stone when I gather it before standing up.”
Bent Over Row
Another movement that Licis feels is important is the bent over barbell row.
“I do these the same way as I would the front squats. Same rep scheme and same weight.” He does this one on his back training up to five sets of five reps and performs the basic movement at six months out and as the event gets closer, he tries to hold the weight at the top of the rep.
“I try to use more weight than the stone on this movement too.”
Training Three Months Out from Competition
At three months out, he drops the bar work and goes to training with the stone to shoulder movement itself.
“I’ll start working with a stone that’s around 50% of the weight that I expect to have to lift in the event. As we get closer to the event, I’ll start working with more weight until finally I’m working with the same weight in training. I do that up until the last week.”
On the week of the event, he stops training and focuses on recovery and being ready for event day.
One More Trick
When he starts working with the stone, he focuses on execution as well as strength. After all, if he commits the energy to getting the stone up, he wants to make sure the rep counts. “I lift the stone up and hold it on my chest, similar to a log press, so I get used to that pressure and can calmly transition from chest to shoulder to complete the rep. Some guys have trouble with this part of it. Mastering that helped me out tremendously.”
Featured image: @martinslicis on Instagram