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Fun with Yokes

By Marcus | In Lifting | on December 22, 2011

Again, a huge thanks from your trainers for everyone’s generous gift of the new toys — yokes!

The question many of you may be wondering is what exactly do we do with these strange implements? This week some of you may have noticed that they serve as useful extra squat racks, others may have seen Sean using one as a prowler-esque sled to push Ruth around. While these are quite the Swiss Army knife of gym equipment, their primary use is to bear weight across the shoulders while walking/running. For example, as programmed at a recent NLI.

While the NLI utilized the yoke at a fairly light weight, athletes will usually use heavy loads, many times up to double their back squat 1RM. (For reference, our unloaded regular and tall yokes are 175 lb. and 185 lb., respectively.) EliteFTS ran a recent article on Strongman training and had some great info and pointers on the yoke:

The yoke walk (run) is a great way to strengthen the posterior chain; build rock solid, unstoppable quads; and, because it’s an extreme external overload on the athlete, elicit an incredible physical response. It’s a two-part movement—the lift and the walk (run). The range of motion for the lift is short, but once the yoke is locked out, athletes take short, high frequency steps with the intent to move as fast as possible with the heaviest weight possible, which is of great benefit to the nervous system as well. There isn’t an eccentric/concentric action like there is on free squats, but having to “come out of the hole” by breaking the yoke off the ground can simulate an athlete coming out of the hole on a box squat. The yoke is also an incredible movement for building the most powerful hips from the walk (run) portion and a thick, dense, strong back (from the static hold of the yoke across the back). A weight, most times in excess of double the athlete’s max effort squat, is on the athlete’s back and it is being moved by the athlete while the hips are in full extension. Athletes will know they yoked the day before.

The key to a good yoke walk is keeping the upper back loaded by pulling the side bars in toward the athlete’s body. The athlete needs to find the sweet spot across the “yoke” of the back (traps and rear delts) upon which the yoke will sit. Athletes need to keep their eyes up and focused on a fixed spot for the duration of the run. Remember—run the yoke and move as fast as possible.

I know I’m looking forward to playing around with the yoke and now hopefully you are, too!


WOD 12.22.11

Bear Complex
5 sets of the following complex:

  • Power Clean
  • Front Squat
  • Push Press
  • Back Squat
  • Push Press

1. Perform 7 reps of the complex without resting on the floor per set. Touch and go only for the Power Clean.
2. You can thruster the push presses from both the squats, but the first movement has to be a power clean…(no squat clean to thruster).
3. Rest as needed between sets.
4. Penalty for a bar touching the ground is 5 burpees per violation, to be paid post-WOD.

5 Comments to "Fun with Yokes"

  • Michael H says:

    December 22, 2011 at 8:28 AM -

    It’s amazing how something so lethal can arrive in a compact IKEA inspired package. Can’t wait to put some miles on these and get yoked :)

  • becky says:

    December 22, 2011 at 11:39 AM -

    ok, so now a new toy i need to come in and try. the prowler (sad face) and this yoke thingy-ma-bob!

    miss u friends.

    feliz navidad!

  • Holley says:

    December 22, 2011 at 1:00 PM -

    I’m excited to come back and get yoked!

    @becky – Miss you! Looking forward to your next visit :)

  • ruth says:

    December 22, 2011 at 7:45 PM -

    becky, come badk sooooon!

  • Jason T says:

    December 23, 2011 at 10:36 AM -

    Dang! The new gym is looking fun.

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