The Yoke


The yoke is the ultimate strength builder. If you’re an athlete who’s trying to get strong at any level, this has to be in the arsenal. It just has to be. There’s nothing where you can overload your frame in this way, you can’t move more weight faster than you can with the yoke on anything else. This isn’t overly technical, this is relatively simple and it creates a safe environment where we can carry some real weight. You can carry it like we did—traditional—you can carry it Zercher style, you can carry it overhead, you can do static overhead holds—in all of those different scenarios, we want the skates to be 6 to 8 inches off the ground, So if you’re going to do it Zercher style, you set the cross bar so that when you pick it up, it’s 6 to 8 inches off the floor. If you’re going to lock out overhead and you’re going to carry it overhead, you start here, stand up. What we’re going to start with is hand positions. Most of us are going to be flexible enough to get the hands back on the crossbar. So if Logan sets himself up, you want to put the bar across your back usually where you back back squat is going to be the most comfortable. If you’re flexible enough to get your hands in the upright, this works pretty well because you create a nice little shelf for that bar to sit on. If you lack that flexibility, you can grab the uprights, and you’ll see a lot of pro Strongmen doing it this way, but you’ve got to pinch your elbows back, you’ve got to make that shelf and you’ve got to be even more deliberate about picking your chest and chin up. Because the tendency when you put your hands out is to start to look down. OK? So Logan’s going to set his hands on the crossbar, put the bar right where we back squat, the chin is neutral, the feet are right underneath the hips, and we stand up. The correct height on the yoke itself is so that the skates are about 6 to 8 inches off the floor. And the reason we do that is we don’t want to set this bar too low because then he’s got to deep squat to pick it up. And it’s OK with body weight, maybe two times body weight, but when we’re talking three or four times body weight, that gets serious. We also don’t want to set this up another notch because then every step he takes, the skids are going to touch the ground. It becomes really distracting. So we want to find that sweet spot where we have a little bit of room but not a deep squat. One of the most common mistakes that we see is people take a really aggressive first step. They think I’m going to move quickly. You end up setting that thing up like a pendulum. Instead what we want to do, we pick it up and we gradually pick up the tempo. So the first step is deliberate and slow and then we gradually pick up our cadence—heel-toe. I want you to notice when he comes back—there’s two things going on there. Look at how still and flat the yoke is as he walks forward. There’s absolutely no movement, that thing tracks flat. There’s no left to right and there’s no up and down. The second thing I want you to look at is when he exits the yoke, he drops his body down, doesn’t give up any angle here, he just drops his body down and he continues to move away. That yoke is going to track flat. And out. You guys follow that? If you open up your stride—if you look at his feet, it’s a very short stride. It’s a quick heel-toe. You want the cadence to be really quick but you don’t want to open your stride because as soon as I’ve opened my stride, I’ve lowered myself down. Now I’m going to have to go up and over. All that up and down with three times body weight, it starts to beat you up. So we want to glide, OK? Let’s watch one more rep. Pick it up, heel-toe, quick pace and out. When he comes back, the last thing we’re going to look at is his feet. His toes are turned out just a hair and he’s got a little bit of a flex in the knees so that he acts like a shock absorber, he moves very quickly, but he also doesn’t walk like he’s on a tightrope. He walks like he’s on railroad tracks. You guys follow that? Just a quick heel-toe. Nothing to it. A couple things with the yoke: substitutions. What can we sub for the yoke? Alright, let’s run that analysis. What did you carry on the yoke today? Student: 620 pounds. I’m going to put a rack over here and a rack down there. I’m going to load the bar with 620 and I want you to take it out of the rack, carry it down and rack it on the other side. Student: Before or after my legs break? Thank you! That’s the right answer. What’s the penalty for a missed step—I set you up with the question—what’s the penalty for a missed step on the barbell at 600 pounds? Catastrophic. Catastrophic. What’s the penalty for a missed step on a 600-pound yoke? There you go. The yoke creates that safe environment where we can really explore the limits of our capabilities. You guys follow that? It creates that environment so we can go right to the edge where the breaking point is here not this is going to ruin me for the rest of my life. So substitutions—no! There are none.

11 Replies to “The Yoke”

  1. this is great you can never stop learning. and i especially like how there was a difference demonstrated between a york and a barbell to a neophyte like me information like this is priceless. You guys are incredible please keep videos like this and infomation like this coming. peace out.

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