The use of yokes as a training tool is often associated with Strongmen like Eddie Hall and Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, it’s not too often the everyday fitness enthusiast gets to play “Strongman”, however we see these as invaluable training tools.
If you are unfamiliar with a yoke it is a large metal frame with a adjustable crossbar. Each of the four corners of the frame can be loaded with weight, often with several times your own bodyweight.
The most common way to use a yoke is to pick it up and carry it, however it can pushed and pulled and held too (depending on the make you have).
The great thing about using yokes is it allows you to move weights that would be impossible if loaded onto a barbell for a squat or deadlift. For example….
…Yes, that is a little excessive for us mere mortals, sure is impressive though!
Benefits of yoke carries (and pushes and pulls)
There are many full body weighted movements (squats, presses, deadlifts to name a few), however none of these compare to the head to toe muscle recruitment found when carrying a yoke. This is simply through the fact that you’re putting your body under a much heavier load than it is used to. Everything from your upper back, posterior chain, trunk/core, hips and legs will benefit from yoke training.
For lifters with minimal strongman and/or athletic movement background, strongman training like the use of yokes may help to increase neural drive, increase motor neuron recruitment, and develop a well-rounded strength and power athlete.
…basically it will make you more balanced, stronger and generally more awesome.
How to carry a yoke
Brace (stay ‘tight’): Now that you have that tension, it’s your main job to keep it. Do not underestimate the importance of this, both for safety and effectiveness.
Play around with yoke height: Having the cross bar set a little higher can be useful for that little extra ground clearance. However with the weight sitting little higher you may find the yoke swings more. Find what works for you.
Stance: This should be around shoulder to hip width
Take small, fast steps: This will help you with the previous two points. Large, slow (or stop, start) steps not only make hip/midline stabilisation harder but also introduced more momentum to the yoke causing it to pendulum back and forth.
Create a platform: Find a hand position on the yoke that allows you to create a shelf for the crossbar to sit on.
“Bend: the bar: Not literally, but create tension by trying to wrap the bar around your back and keep it there securely.
Focus on a spot: Keep your eyes ahead (not down to the floor or skywards) and focus on your target.
You don’t have to be a Strongman to use a yoke, but if you want to get strong it’s one of the best tools to have in your toolbox!
Take it for a ride in today’s workout!