Exercise Anatomy

The Yoke Carry

The yoke carry is one of the most challenging of the strongman exercises. Here's how to effectively perform this move.

Popular in strongman circles, the yoke carry traditionally involves carrying a weighted metal frame on your back. Though there are other variations, our focus will be on the traditional carry. There may not be a more effective way of moving the largest loads quickly than with the yoke.

1. The Setup


Set up the yoke so that there are 4 to 6 inches of clearance when you stand with the implement. Any less and slight deviations in balance during the carry can make the implement touch the ground, and any more clearance may eventually impede the loads that you can stand up to carry.

There are two common hand placements when carrying the yoke. The most common in the strongman community is to have your hand pressing out into the uprights below shoulder level. This method makes for the fastest transitions and allows for the greatest limitations in flexibility. Many CrossFitters place their hands on the crossbar outside shoulder width, not too dissimilar to a back squat. Use whichever is most effective to bear the load.

2. The Lift


With an erect posture, feet flat on the ground in a squat stance, and hips under the crossbar, drive through the floor to standing.

3. The Walk


With your eyes on the horizon, take small, increasingly quick steps. Your knees are soft to keep the carry smooth and steps are “heel to toe” and small to avoid vertical oscillation. Think about walking with a wide base rather than on a “tight rope.”

4. The Exit


Though you can return the yoke to the ground the same way you stood it up, the most effective exit strategy at the end of a successful carry should be a slight lowering of your center of mass to unload the yoke and continue moving, leaving the yoke behind.

The most taxing part of the yoke is, in part, time under tension, so move the load as quickly as possible.