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Alex Roberts – Stonelifter

Alex Roberts Strongman Stonelifter

Alex Roberts, with his competitive chest expander

My name is Alex Roberts, I am 45 years of age and live in the UK.

My main interest is traditional stonelifting. I travel around the UK to lift traditional manhood stones. I have been lifting stones for about 3 years, before this I was heavily into strength training and grip training. This involved everything from old fashioned barbell training, lots of power rack bottom position squats, and partial movements, especially the hand and thigh lift. This involves lifting a weight only a couple of inches,using the back, like a deadlift, but the bar rests on the top of the thighs. I specialised in the lift for many months, and worked up to over 500kg, not using straps or any grip aid. I have also been involved with short steel bending, I have successfully bent the Ironmind red nail, and am on the official red nail roster. Other certifications include Fat Bastard barbell steel bars.

I have one goal at the moment, and that is  to travel to Iceland and achieve full sterkur status, with the Husafell stone. The stone weights approximately 190kg. To achieve full sterkur the stone has to be carried for 50 meters  without putting the stone down on the ground, so a tough challenge. All my training at the moment is geared towards this goal. I am performing lots of stone lifts, and walking with my homemade Husafell replica stones. It is very tough and tiring, but with enough determination and willpower I will succeed.

When I first started training many years ago,it was always for looks,very typical bodybuilder type workouts,high reps,and lots of isolation exercises. As I became interested in strength training, my workouts changed. I started to use big compound exercises, like dead lifts and squats. These 2 alone are enough to make you very strong. I am a big believer in partial reps, to overload your body with as much weight as possible, in a safe manner. Partial reps are not just ego lifts, they build great tendon and ligament strength, which is very important. I also started to use mostly single reps, maybe a set of 10 single reps, all increasing in weight. In my opinion single reps build strength better and faster than medium reps, eg 5 or higher.

Now I mainly train with natural or artificial stones, lifted in various ways, to knee height, to the lap, or chest. I also use cables for strength training. Old fashioned chest expanders are great for building really useable strength, especially in the upper back and shoulders. They work muscles  in a different way to a barbell, and from angles, very different to work with free weights or machines. I find when using cables, my strength levels go up very fast.

I tend to prefer spring expanders, and own several sets, including an eight spring pair of competition handles, which are prized possessions. I also have sets of Lifeline, Ironmind, and the Hook. So I am quite addicted to cable training. My life could not be any better at the moment. I get to travel to beautiful locations in the UK, and lift historic stones, with my wife and children, who have all been very encouraging to me in my chosen hobby.

I urge anyone who has not lifted a large stone, to go out and find one, and try to lift it. It is a primitive feeling, and very satisfying, training as our ancestors did. Lifting an object which has been around for hundreds of years, and will be around for hundredsm more is a very humbling experience, but a great one.

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