I’ve always enjoyed watching the strong man competitions. One of my favorite events was the atlas stone event. As I got more and more into strength and conditioning I realized the benefits of strong man style training, I knew I wanted to have my very own atlas stone, and if you read my previous post about the 6 essential items for your garage gym, you know that I’m a big proponent of DIY projects and getting the biggest benefit with the smallest investment in equipment. When I searched out methods of making an atlas stone, there were a few things that really bummed me out so I decided to go at it from a little different angle and the results were fantastic. Before we get into the building of an atlas stone, let me run through a few other options there are out there.
- You can buy atlas stone molds from suppliers like Rogue Fitness. There are two main brands of stone molds, Slater Stone Molds, and Rob Orlando’s Hybrid Stone Molds. These molds are great if you are making sets of stones and multiple stones of each weight. If you need just a one-off stone they can get a little pricey. If you know of a neighboring gym that might also want some stones, you might be able to strike up a deal or become an atlas stone hustler of some sort.
- The Plaster of Paris method is where you buy a sacrificial ball with a similar diameter of the stone you want and after coating the outside with Plaster of Paris, you can deflate the ball, remove it and fill that space with concrete. Once dry, you can chip away the plaster and you will have your stone, and a really big mess to clean up. You may be able to make a stone that is a little cheaper than the one I describe here, but I’m not sure if it will be easier. You may have to weigh out the benefits. There’s also a likelihood of getting a flat spot on the stone if it isn’t supported well in the container you place it in while curing. At the time I was writing this tutorial, a 25lb bag of plaster cost about $15 and you’ll need 2 or 3 of those according to the tutorial I read.
The size of the stone you might choose to build will depend on your fitness level and use for the stone. You can do stone carries, ground to shoulder, or stone over or onto an object. Choosing a stone that is heavy enough you have to think about lifting it, but light enough you can use it for repeated efforts is a good idea. You may choose to make a few stones as well for variety. When you’re not using them, they make great yard ornaments.
I chose to make a 14 inch diameter stone which is about the same size a Dynamax medicine ball or “wall ball” if you do CrossFit. This stone is roughly 115 pounds. I went to the Hybrid Athletics Store to find out what the different stones would weigh. You can put lead or Styrofoam inserts into the stones to adjust the weights at different diameters, but solid concrete stones seldom break like the ones with the inserts. I used and abused mine and it never even chipped! Let’s get to making the stone.
Things You’ll Need:
There is a link below to the mold I used. It is a 14” acrylic (plastic) globe used for streetlights. It will be a one-time use item (you’ll have to break it to get the stone out) so feel free to shop around for better deals.
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- Silicone Spray
I used this to coat the mold so the concrete would slip out easier…I don’t know how essential this is for this process, but it didn’t hurt anything.
Price at Lowes: $5.99
I chose Quikcrete Pro Finish 5000 because Slaters recommended it and I saw Rob Orlando use it in a YouTube video. I also added a black color additive to mine, which made it nice and gray but not BLACK like I wanted. It also makes the user very dirty. If I had to it do over I probably wouldn’t have added the coloring. I used two bags for mine, but I recommend getting more than you think you’ll need. You can take back any extra, but you can’t leave the project to go buy more. I had enough to make a little baby stone from an old bowl I had.
Price at Lowes $5.39 per bag ($10.78 for two bags)
- Some sort of container for support
It’s a good idea to place the mold into a large container of some kind. This will keep it round and also support the mold. The weight of the concrete is likely to crack the mold. I used an old plastic barrel that I borrowed from my dad, but I’m sure a large Rubbermaid container or even a hole dug in the ground would work. I filled up the extra space in the barrel with mulch because I was putting out mulch in my flowerbeds anyway.
Steps for Making Your Stone
Step 1: Prepare the Mold
Now that you’ve rounded up your supplies, it’s time to start making your stone. Take the barrel and fill it with some dirt, potting soil, mulch or some other supportive material. I wrapped my globe with duct tape as well but that might not be necessary. If you’re a belt and suspenders kind of person and want to do that, go ahead and do it now. Put a generous coat of the silicone spray inside the mold.
I put an old blanket underneath my stone to help me lift it out after it dried. This actually helped a lot and I was able to get it out rather easily. Once the mold is lubed up and supported, you’re ready to mix up your concrete.
- Mixing the Concrete
This step sounds easy, but having the right consistency of your concrete is important. You want it to be a little thick. Pour out some dry concrete in a wheelbarrow or bucket and then add water and mix it until you get a nice thick kind of clumpy texture. Make up more than you think you need, so that you don’t panic in the middle of the pouring process.
- Pouring the Concrete
As you put the concrete into the mold, shake it and twist it pretty violently to get all of the bubbles out. If you’re using stone molds, you can tap the outside of the mold, but since you’ve got your mold in the cocoon you made in step 1, you don’t have that luxury, but you can tap and shake the container if you need to. Once the stone gets full, shake it and re-fill it so that it’s spilling over the top a little bit. It will look like this when you’ve filled it:
You will need to wait a couple of days before you take the stone out of the mold. I think I waited about 3 days to make sure it was hard enough to remove from the mold. Once you feel that the stone has dried enough, take it out of the container and start to pry off the globe. You will break it, I promise, but that’s ok, you have been preparing yourself for this.
- Finishing the Stone
When the stone is fresh out of the mold, grab a wet rag and smooth out any rough spots. The concrete will probably still be workable at this stage and you can make a nice smooth finish on it. Any rough spots will make hamburger meat out of your forearms. After you’ve smoothed out the stone, try to keep it wet for as long as you can so that it cures nice and slow. It will be harder that way. Keep spraying it with the water hose for a day or so and let it sit in the sun for about a week before you start slamming it around.
- Start lifting!
Have fun using your new stone and make sure that you practice your lifting technique on some lighter objects before jumping right to the stone! They are really fun to use and really do give you a great workout! Make sure you have a platform or at least some ¾ rubber mats to drop your stone into!
Total Cost: about $55
Total Time: about and hour to set up and pour followed by about a week to fully cure!
Amount of Gainz: Limitless.