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History of the Super Yoke

Article By Peter Herguth


One of the classic examples of strong people moving heavy things is moving a heavy load across the shoulders and back. The Super yoke is a logical progression from a squatting movement as well. Not only do you have to lift the weight up, but now try to run with it! But where did this important event begin?

While it is technically not the exact same event, it would be hard to describe the history of the Super Yoke if the Fridge Carry was not mentioned. This event is as old as the first eve World’s strongest man in 1977. The form is very different from what you see now with the Fridge Carry or with the Super Yoke events. In 1977 the fridge was set up into a sort of cage (for protection) with a back pad, handles, and a strap to secure the lifter. The technique at the time was to lean forward to distribute the weight along your back and support the weight on the lower back. The course was 30 meters long and the entire set up was 904lbs! The first year of this event suffered an injury as Franco Columbu ran his heat. Franco started out quickly but stumbled and injured his left leg badly. The doctor on site stated the leg was broken, however Franco believed it was only dislocated. Bruce Windhelm walked away victorious that year with a 17.20s time on the first ever event of this kind.
The Fridge carry was a staple event in the first few World’s Strongest Man competitions until 1980 with the weight varying from 400-420lbs. in 1978 Lars Hedlund won it for 13.67 seconds. However 1981 marked the first year without a heavy back loaded carry for several years.
It was not until 1990 that anything heavier than a sandbag over the shoulders was used as an event in WSM. The 1990 featured an event that had a heavy 100Kg load spread across the shoulders. This event was done for distance and time as a test of endurance for over 200 meters.
1993 introduced an event that carries on in modern strongman still today. This was the first introduction of the Car Carry event. While technically not the Yoke, It is a HEAVY shoulder bearing carry (430Kg)for distance or time. This event was so different from anything else that had been part of the WSM events that none of the contestants were able to carry the car the full 25 Meters due to the no drops rule. Gary Taylor won this event just beating Magnus’s 20m record.

In 1995 we actually get to step away from the WSM contests. One of the earliest forms of the Super yoke, as we know of it today, almost made an appearance at the World Musclepower Championships in Scotland. The implement resembled a bar with engine blocks suspended from it. Gary Taylor was the first competitor to test the implement. Gary’s attempt went far better than Nathan Jone’s that day. During Jone’s test of the implement he was nearly taken out by it as it fell during the attempt. For reasons of safety and stability this event was abandoned, not to be used in this competition. (1)
1997 was the year that really made the Super Yoke a part of the arsenal of nearly all strongmen today. The 1997 WSM contest was the first to feature the Super Yoke by name with a similar set up to all modern yokes. The implement weighed a staggering 355kg and was to be carried 25 meters. Flemming Rasmussen won this event with a time of 13.44 seconds. Meanwhile NAS has featured yoke events as early as 1997 too. (2).

In 2004 history collides with the present as the Fridge Carry event is finally re-introduced to the finals. The father of the event makes its grand reappearance as two fridges (904lbs) supported across the shoulder by a thick bar and crossbar for support that need to be carried for 30 meters. Vasyl Virastyuk won this event with a time of 15.03 seconds
Now the Super yoke finds its home in many events. Like most events in strongman it can be in the form of a max weight, for distance, for time. But the usual format is fastest time for a set distance.

In 2014 the Heaviest to date Super Yoke was performed at the Arnold Classic weighing around 1500lbs over 10ft course. Zydrunas Savickas was the winner  (3)

(1) – Ironmind’s Elizabeth M. Hammond
(2) – NAS/ASC’s Dione Wessels

(3) – Kalle Beck

Peter Herguth is a lightweight strongman working toward becoming a strong competitor, promoter and coach. He hopes to host his first event in 2015, become a sponsored athlete, and own a gym.

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  1. Bill Pittuck permalink

    Hi just reading your article and would like to add that I used the engine block super yolk in 1995 WSM along with Gerrit Baudenhorst I remember well because I almost beat him regards Bill Pittuck ☺

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