Among today’s elite powerhouse competitors, Mitchell Hooper may be the next big thing. After storming onto the scene in 2022 – earning a podium finish in six of his seven fights and winning two of his last three, including the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic UK – many will understand that even more expect from Hooper in 2023. However, before he tries to build on an incredible debut year that saw him take the game by storm, the Canadian athlete first gave some useful training tips.
On January 11, 2023, Hooper posted a video on his YouTube channel where he gave a walkthrough to a group of athletes on how to properly lift the Atlas rocks. The session isn’t necessarily new for Hooper, who occasionally shares the same technique training videos in between moments of refining his own strength.
Hooper wasted no time diving into his de facto lecture on the Atlas rocks.
Put Your Stand on the Middle Rock
He first diagrammed how one starts from a quality lifting standpoint, noting that the balls of an athlete’s feet should be parallel to the center of the stone when setting up. Another critical thing is to make sure the feet have a wide enough position.
“You want to be in a place where you can see your feet [on either side of the stone]. Look at your feet on the side of the rock.”
If a person’s feet are too close to the Atlas stone, Hooper maintains that the position of the hands can negatively change as they grip the stone. Additionally, with a rock in hand, the knees can rub against an athlete’s elbows, creating a poor setup while lifting.
Cup the Rock with the Hands and arms
Regarding specific notes about an athlete’s hands while trying to lift an Atlas Stone, Hooper clarified that the hands should not be directly down because that will force the relatively weak biceps muscles to support the load.
“The name of the game is creating friction by making as much surface contact as possible. You want your hand and as much of your arm on the rock as possible.”
Instead, the goal is about touching the stone as much as possible, almost “carving” the large mark that is strongly implemented by placing your hands slightly forward of the center of gravity.
“Straight arm, hand forward, arms locked. That way, we use our chest and our lat to squeeze the stone. We didn’t use our biceps to pick up the stone.”
Deadlift High and Lap the Stone
Hooper maintains that when an athlete is in the right position, their goal is to raise the stone to their lap by placing it above their knee as much as possible. Then, when ready, the hips can sink, and the stone will naturally roll into the womb.
“All you have to do is deadlift as much rock as you can. You don’t want to be kneeling and sitting right away.” Hooper said. ” … Think about how the muscles oppose the force and where that force is going.”
A common technique principle for both strongmen and strongwomen, hitting the rock helps the athlete smoothly re-grip for better leverage before standing up.
“The first goal is to get the stone from the ground to your lap… Once the stone is past your knee, you can sit and roll. You change your hands, and you can raise them [to a standing position].”
Get Hips Under Rock to Stand
Per Hooper, once a person is ready to change their grip for hip movement, the stone should “sit on the sternum” with the body as tight as possible to the stone. The stone should move straight as the athlete stands.
Hooper clarified that some make the mistake of actually trying to lift the stone higher when it’s against their sternum. To combat this overcorrection, the strongman advises to make a strong effort to keep the stone tight to the chest and simply extend the hips underneath for improved leverage and full extension.
“If you extend [into a standing position]you should not think about carrying the stone…
Special Techniques for Elevated Platforms
When a strongman or strongwoman competitor is tasked with lifting a boulder on a high podium, Hooper said they should strive to making sure their hands are not directly around the center of the stone when repositioning the grip. This type of “hugging” leaves limited flexibility for stability to maneuver the rock in a higher position and has a higher chance of failure of the lift.
However, when an athlete is working for their grip again, the arms should be placed at a 45-degree angle to the surface of the rockwhich leaves more room to work the stone to a higher platform.
Finally, Hooper offered a reminder that the balls of the feet indicate where the center of the stone is. As such, the arms should be in lockstep with the balls of the feet in the first position. While reviewing some of the participants’ sample performances on video, Hooper offers one final correction to a common mistake made early in the lift.
“The movement from the ground is not a squat, it’s a stiff-legged deadlift. The hips are too high.”
An already established superstar, Hooper, the teacher, soon transitions to Hooper, the strong. The athlete is scheduled to participate in the 2023 Australia’s Strongest International (ASI) on January 21, 2023, in Yapeen, Australia. If his exploits there go anywhere close to his success from 2022, Hooper could start the new competitive year with a bang.
Featured image: Mitchell Hooper on YouTube
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