My Experience With Tacky and Atlas Stones
February 21st 2020
This is my experience with using tacky and training with atlas stones.
I have never lifted stones prior to making them and I had about 6 years of strength training experience before doing any Strongman training events.
Why did I decide to use tacky?
I currently weigh anywhere between 175-178lbs and when I started to lift a 16” 173lbs atlas stone, I had to take an extended amount of time off since I often had lingering wrist and elbow pain.
Without tacky and chalk, I was able to do 1 set for 5-8 reps comfortably.
At the time, I probably only went for a maximum of 3 sets for 5 reps with atlas stones, training them 3-4x a week.
I quickly found out what a bad idea this was and I just took some time off atlas stone training.
After a few months off, I decided to try again but I decided I wanted to use some tacky.
However, I was confused about what to use and I did not want any messy clean-up routine.
I also did not want to spend a ton of money on something that I will not use if I get injured again so I went with the tacky towel first.
What’s the point of using tacky with atlas stones?
Tacky is used so that the lifter does not excessively strain their small hand, forearm, and arm muscles while lifting the atlas stone.
Tacky will ensure that lifters have full contact with the atlas stone and that all their energy and power will be transferred for just picking up the stone and getting it over a specified height.
Types of tacky
This is one I am currently using at the moment. Normally marketed towards golfers and tennis players, this tacky towel is a good beginner-friendly training tool to allow lifters to get used to gripping the atlas stone the right way.
I have used it in the winter and it does get applied to your hands without much resistance.
Just rub all parts of your palm and fingers that you want tacky on and in a few seconds, your hands should be sticky enough to grip the atlas stone.
One of the best parts of the tacky towel is its smooth cleanup.
It does not stick to everything, though it is somewhat sticky. You should have a spare rag or shirt just in case.
But the tacky from the tacky towel can be washed off with soap and water.
Simple yet very effective.
Tacky (from the jar)
This tacky is used typically by amateur all the way up to professional Strongman.
It’s the brand Brian Shaw uses and it just gets the job done.
It will stick and you better not fool around with it because it will ruin your clothes.
So, having tacky remover is probably your best bet of getting this stuff off in a timely and efficient manner.
I’m sure there are some DIY solutions that can save you a couple of bucks.
And there are also some other brands of tacky remover.
But this one (linked above) does not smell or leave a lingering residue as pungent as some other tacky removers.
The only caveat from the tacky jars is that they are weather-dependent.
For the most part, most Strongman events are indoors and for the competitions that are not indoors, they are held in humid or hot temperatures.
If you live in countries that experience winter, your summer tacky jar is not going to cut it.
Your tacky will be hard to scoop unless you warm it up or train indoors with regulated temperature.
There are tacky sprays available but I would not recommend them.
One reason is that there are no professionals using tacky sprays.
Strongman, as a sport, is pretty transparent with tons of brotherhood energy.
If no one is using tacky sprays, still using tacky jars and are crushing atlas stone world records, this should signal to you that you should stick to what works.
Tacky sprays have poor reviews as well.
It may help with maximal amount of reps for a few minutes.
But it wears away more quickly than tacky jars and it binds to your skin. As you guessed, it is painful to remove since the tacky spray only applies a very thin layer of adhesive and when you remove it, it is so closely attached to your skin, it will feel as though you are ripping off your skin.
Talk about a bad experience…
How should I apply tacky?
If you are using a tacky towel, just rub the tacky towel on your palms and fingers.
You do not need to apply tacky where there is no contact on the stone.
For tacky jars, a glub or coin size scoop should be enough and you can spread it around so that are some tacky all around your hand.
Applying some on your forearms or chest is optional but if you are lifting a maximal stone, this is strongly recommended.
For an average or light stone, you can probably skip this part.
Just make sure that you shave your forearms or chest in case you do decide to apply it to those locations.
There is no need to put yourself through an uncomfortable waxing.
Should I make my own tacky?
The short answer is no.
If you choose the DIY homemade route, you will need some combination of resin and oil.
You will need to figure out a tacky recipe since there are not many resources online.
Trial and error could be your best bet but you would be better off just calling a Strongman tacky maker and asking them for guidance on the process.
Unless you are trying to pinch every penny, are planning to have an extensive career in Strongman, or simply do not have access to buy commercial tacky, I would not advise making your own tacky.
You will be much better off with buying the best brand tacky since all companies are trying to competitively price out one another, leaving the consumers with the best experience.
But at this day and age, I am confident that companies ship globally and if they do not, you should be able to find some tacky substitutes locally until you are able to get real tacky jars.
Conclusion: Is tacky for everyone?
If you are training stones for any amount of reps and you are new, I would recommend using tacky.
Nearly, if not all, Strongman competitors will use tacky during competition.
Practice as you would compete.
Now, there are a few exceptions due to individual differences during atlas stone holds that some lifters may have a more glaring weakness but for the most part, you should be able to identify if that is you when you pick up your first atlas stone.