Considerations for Improving your Super Yoke
Article By Tom Hibbert
The Yoke is one of those disciplines that has a good carryover to other events. If your Yoke is going well then you can bet your squat and deadlift are also seeing improvements. The main reasoning is that the improved hip & core stability that is so vital with the Yoke, will transfer to your compound lifts & also other moving events.
Speed is King
The Yoke is predominantly a speed event. You don’t see many max Yoke efforts like they’ve had in the Arnold Classic. The fastest guy from A to B wins, not the strongest. Training to improve maximal speed is different to training to enhance maximal strength.
Speed requires quality over quantity. This is where a stop watch will come in handy. The principle is that you only keep the volume (total workload) as long as intensity (speed) is kept. I allow my athletes a 7% drop maximum. It’s better to stop once this performance drop has occurred than to continue at a slower speed or reduce the weight. Any sets after this will be junk sets, and simply impact performance & recovery negatively.
Analyse your Weakness
Are you weak at the start, is it your maximum speed or maybe you struggle with acceleration? Analyzing this can allow you to break the event into parts, and as you get towards the competition you can put it all together.
Here are some further ideas you can apply to your training:
Multiple Pick Ups
This will benefit the start of your Yoke run. Simply pick up the yoke 2-5 times before beginning your run, the focus will be on the speed of each pick-up. It will also act as a pre-fatigue method, which means when you return to a single pick up, it will feel easy.
Run an initial set distance, come to a dead stop without dropping the yoke, then re-accelerating to the end. The deceleration component indirectly transfers to a performance improvement through helping to prevent injuries via an increased time under tension & eccentric forces. It’s the fact you have to re-accelerate that will be of benefit to you.
This is a method that utilizes Post Activation Potentiation. Simply put, picking up a heavy weights followed by a lighter weight, will make the lighter weight seem even lighter than usual. An easy way to do this would be a heavy pick up followed by a lighter run.
Be careful of wanting to go too heavy too soon on the heavy pick-up. The key is to focus on the lighter run and the speed of this and not an enormous pick-up. Injuries from spinal compression are easy to come by, so I recommend you also decompress post workout.
Improve your Olympic Style Squat
Improving your high bar squat will increase hip and knee stability. It is doubtful that you will be carrying the Yoke in a low bar position, so tension will be on your quads more than your posterior chain due to your upright posture. From a psychological point of view, I know that the closer my high bar Olympic squat is to the competition Yoke weight, the more confident I am at being able to sprint with it.
So there you have it. I hope this article is thought provoking for you or helps to freshen up your training. The only constant is change so utilizing different methods will only help your body adapt and get stronger.
Tom owns a private strength & conditioning facility in the UK (Winning Health Solutions) & a Strength Coach/Personal Trainer Education company (Winning Performance). He is also a 3 x National (England) Strongman Champion at u90kg and placed 2nd at World’s Strongest Man u90kg in 2016.
Not only has he proved himself in the sport, but that of his clients as well. He can take a strongman from novice to the international stage, like with Aaron Page. He has taken other seasoned strongmen from obscurity to the same level, like Lee Forbister. With this success he has started to be sought out by many other competitors, most recently with Slovenia’s Strongest Man & WSM competitor Matjaz Belsak. He also trains the World Record Holder in the u90kg Strongman Deadlift Darryn Wright.
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