Josh speaking from experience.
The yoke walk is the ultimate test of limit strength, strength endurance, core stability and explosive power. To add icing on the cake, the yoke will simultaneously work virtually every muscle in the body.
In the last 15 years, the yoke has become popular in strongman contests ranging from the iconoclastic World’s Strongest Man to the bush league strongman contest in the parking lot of a mobile home turned redneck bar 15 miles due west of Cut and Shoot, Texas.
The yoke implement, also referred to as a “super yoke”, is a frame with two upright posts or chains connected by a thick bar that sits across your shoulders. Weight generally can be added to posts to increase the weight of the implement. Stating the obvious, the chain yoke is much more difficult than a traditional yoke because of stability requirements—so, functional trainers, pop your Bosu balls, use your real balls and give it a whirl.
In a strongman contest you will move the yoke for a specified distance as fast as possible. Assuming contestants are able to complete the event, the fastest time wins; if they are unable to complete it, distance is measured and whoever traveled the furthest would win.
The yoke walk can be a standalone event or part of a medley. Most contests require a contestant to go 25-100 feet, some more, some less.
The Yoke is heavy—most competitors could not come close to squatting the weight used in a yoke carry. Strongman contests can have yokes that range from 400 pounds to well over 1,000 pounds for a seasoned professional.
Professional strongman, Matt Mills, elite-level personal trainer and owner of Lightning Fitness in South Windsor, CT, was kind enough to make us a tutorial on the yoke and some of its variations and their benefits.
- For strength, do runs with maximum weight for as little as 10 feet, take a full recovery between sets
- For hypertrophy, use more moderate loads for 50-100ft. and rest 90-180 seconds between sets
- Do three to five sets on your back or leg day
A tough yoke walk can take more than 30 seconds with a weight that is above your true squat max. If you squat 400 lbs. and you do a yoke walk with 500 lbs., your body must dynamically stabilize 100 lbs. over your squat max while you walk 100+ feet.
In essence, you are overloading your system with more weight than you normally handle and greatly increasing the time you are under tension.
You will grow, plain and simple. Remember, big, compound movements that use the largest amount of muscle cause the greatest muscle gains and fat loss; the yoke epitomizes this type of movement.
Furthermore, heavy yoke training will make heavy squats lighter, increase core strength and stability and add an exciting, new element to your training routine.
Time to get yoked with the yoke!
Learn how to maximize MUSCLE HYPERTROPHY with strongman techniques by grabbing Josh’s ISSA Bodybuilding Specialist Course HERE.