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 and 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.
Analyze your Weakness
Are you weak at the start, is it your maximum speed or maybe you struggle with acceleration. Analyzing this can then allow you to break the event into parts and then 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. You simply specific 2-5 pick-ups before completing 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.
This involves running an initial set distance, coming to a dead stop without dropping the yoke and 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 weight 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 this will increase hip stability as well as knee. It is doubtful that you will be carrying the Yoke low bar, 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.
P.S. It’s a yoke, not a yolk. A yolk is the yellow part of the egg. Please stop calling it this when you post on social media 😉
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 Strongman Champion at u90kg. 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. Follow Tom and reach out for coaching on Facebook, Instagram @Tom.Hibbert1, Reach out for coaching at http://www.winning-performance.uk