In a world of fitness guided by aesthetics, strongman training is one of the few activities where the sole focus is on becoming stronger, and better able to handle all kinds of physically demanding tasks. Although strongman training can be done in a regular gym, those interested in this sport will need a few specialized pieces of equipment. Today we’re going to show you our picks for the top 5 best strongman yokes on the market. This piece of equipment is essential for working on your weighted carries and working on your weighted carries is essential for maximizing your strength and conditioning. Finding a solid yoke is all about knowing what to look for and what to avoid. We’ve put together a concise guide that will tell you exactly that. After we go over our picks in detail, we’ll jump into the basics of strongman yokes, how to choose one and answer some of the most commonly asked questions related to this topic. By the time you’re done hanging out with us, you should have all the info necessary to make an educated decision when it comes to selecting the right yoke for yourself. Let’s get started.
Best Strongman Yoke At a Glance
1. Rogue Yokes
If you’re into strength training, home exercise, or just fitness in general, chances are you’re familiar with Rogue Fitness. They offer some of the best gear on the market that stands out with its solid design, legendary build quality, and overall performance. Rogue’s yokes fit that bill to a T. They’re made in the USA at Rogue’s Ohio factory and are pieces of equipment you can rely on. These bad boys follow the same format as many of Rogue’s other series of rigs and racks (e.g., SML-series squat racks). You’ve got the Y-1, which is 72″ tall, the Y-2, which is 92″ tall, and the Y-3, which stands 110″ tall. The uprights that create these heights are actually the only difference between the three, with all of the other specs being the same. As far as those specs go, the Rogue yokes features 11-gauge, 2″ x 3″ uprights and has a total footprint of 50″ x 48″. Just like most other yokes out there, these also double as a squat rack, bench press and sled. As they have been for a while, Rogue went ahead and used Westside hole spacing in the bench zone. Yes, that means that these yokes are compatible with safety spotter arms (Rogue’s infinity series are the ones you’ll need) Each of Rogue’s Y-series yokes comes with four horns on each corner as well as two horns mounted on the uprights for your Olympic weight plates or bumper plates. Overall, they’re easy to balance when used as a yoke while the horn placement offers great stability when used as a squat rack.
- Proven, US-made build quality
- Features a no-nonsense functional design
- Plenty of loading points
- Comes with J-Cups and Westside hole spacing
- Just like many other Rogue products, it’s not cheap
Titan’s T-3 Series Yoke represents a decent alternative to Rogue for those who need much of the same functionality on a budget. The strongman yoke itself uses a similar design to the Y-3 and comprises two variations: The tall and the short. Measuring 92″ in height, the tall offers plenty of room for you to find the right fit, while the 72″ short yoke is perfect for home gyms with lower ceilings. Much like the Y-series, the uprights are the only difference between the series’ variants. Both T-3 yokes come with 2″ x 3″, 11-gauge uprights that use Westside spacing through the bench zone, a set of skid plates, a fully adjustable 2.95″ wide crossbar and an overall footprint of 52″ x 52″. These strongman yokes are designed to be used as a squat rack, a press station and of course, a sled. Compared to the Y series from Rogue, this model lacks the upright mounted horns. Instead, it comes with only four vertical ones located at each corner of the yoke. While that doesn’t impact its main application, having those side-mounted horns makes it a much better squat rack if you’re into multifunctional equipment (easier to load and unload plates from a barbell with horns on the uprights). That said, its price makes up for these shortcomings.
- Affordable rig
- Quality construction with 11-gauge steel in all the key places
- 750 lbs. total weight capacity
- Westside spacing throughout the bench zone
- Lacks side-mounted horns which help with loading during squats and bench presses
Although TDS fitness isn’t as popular of a brand as Rogue, they have one thing in common – both brands produce most of their rigs in the USA. The strongman yoke we’re looking at here is no different. Best of all, it’s about half the price of the Rogue one. As expected, such a low price caries a few compromises with it. For starters, this is a yoke only. In other words, there are no holes necessary for bench pressing, nor are there J-cups available. Additionally, TDS doesn’t ship these with sled plates, meaning that this is literally just a strongman yoke. As far as build quality goes, TDS has used 2″ x 4″ steel tubing for the base and 2″ x 2″ tubing for the uprights. The crossbeam is also 2″ in diameter and is held in place by two wing nuts on each side. Not the most robust setup (especially when compared to Rogue’s 5/8″ hardware) but it works. TDS’s strongman offering has a max weight capacity of 600 lbs. The yoke comes with 4 horns on each corner of the base frame, that are compatible with Olympic plates. Overall, this is a reasonable deal for budget-oriented users.
- Made in the USA
- Reasonably priced for what it offers
- Proper build quality in terms of materials
- A great choice for budget users and beginners
- Hardware used to hold the strongman yoke together could have been beefier
- Features no holes in the bench zone and no sled plates
- Lacks J-Cups so you won’t be using this yoke as a squat rack
Next on our list is a robust design from Fringe Sport. Their Strongman Yoke features just about everything you’d want on a rig of this type. One quick look reveals a beefy construction that is rooted in 2.4″ x 2.4″ heavy steel uprights sitting on a proper lower frame. The footprint of this entire rig measures 52″ x 53″ while the whole thing is 71″ tall. Fringe Sports ships these out with J-Cups included as well as a set of adjustable horns you can mount on the uprights. It’s not perfect, though. The primary flaw of this system is the lack of Westside hole spacing on the uprights. It comes with a standard 2″ spacing which is fine for most applications but can be a nuisance if you end up finding it hard to get that sweet spot with safety spotter arms on your bench press. Aside from that, you’re looking at quality hardware, sled plates on all four corners, max weight capacity of 1000 lbs. and a 2″ yoke crossbar.
- Rock-solid build quality that inspires confidence
- 1000lbs weight capacity for those who lift heavy
- Can serve as a squat rack, bench station, and a sled
- 2 adjustable weight horns on the uprights
- One of the most expensive rigs on the market
- Lacks the Westside hole spacing
Last but not least we have the BD-21 Yoke from Valor Fitness. Compared to the rest of our picks, this one comes across as a well-rounded rig with a few extra features. Right off the bat, you’ll notice that the BD-21 is on the taller side. In fact, it’s 92″ in height. With that said, its overall footprint is smaller compared to our other picks, measuring 49″ x 49.5″. Another thing that sets this model apart from most of our picks is the fact that it comes with a pull-up bar. As far as build quality goes, you’re looking at 2″ x 3″ tubing made of 11-gauge steel, proper hardware all around and a pair of solid J-Cups. This strongman’s yoke is also fitted with a set of skid plates that make it a decent sled although its overall functionality is slightly limited due to the lack of Westside spacing in the bench press zone. Valor Fitness went with for fixed loading horns for this build, meaning that you won’t be fast loading your barbell for those squats or bench presses. Speaking of weight, this rig is rated for up to 750 lbs. and comes with a 3-year warranty.
- 2″ x 3″ tubing and 11-gauge steel make this yoke fairly robust
- Comes with a removable pull-up bar
- Features a 4″ crossbar
- Relatively compact footprint compared to most
- Lacks Westside hole spacing through bench zone
- There are no side mounted loading horns
Should You Get a Strongman Yoke?
The simple answer is that you should absolutely get a strongman yoke if you’re planning on actively pursuing strongman training in your home, garage, or box gym. The yoke walk is a staple event in strongman training and competition, and you must have the right tools for the job if you’re taking this sport seriously. But, even if you’re not planning on being a strongman competitor, incorporating strongman exercises into your training is one of the best things you can do for your strength, conditioning, and overall athletic capacity. Delving into this a little deeper requires some broader discussion of weighted carries.
Weighted carries are extremely effective all-round strength and conditioning exercises. They’re commonly used by strength and conditioning coaches at all levels to complement traditional strength exercises (e.g., squats, deadlifts, presses) and improve athletic performance. They’re one of the hardest, most physically demanding activities you can ask your body to perform. Squats, deadlifts and presses are still at the very top of the strength training list. And, while these exercises are exceptional for developing strength, carrying heavy things is arguably the best way to express that strength. The strongman yoke walk and farmer’s walk are the two most common, popular, and effective weighted carry exercises. This is one of the primary reasons that a yoke is an exceptional piece of equipment. The fact that many of the good yoke models can also function as a squat rack is another reason. If you’re serious about strongman training and competition, there is no better piece of equipment you can get than a yoke. But, even if you’re not into actual strongman training, a yoke is the perfect multi-tool for home-based strength and conditioning.
Choosing the Right Strongman Yoke
Yokes come in a variety of formats and there aren’t really too many different types of yoke out there. However, finding the best strongman yoke does take some planning and caution. Let’s go over some of the things you should look for in a decent yoke.
Whenever you’re shopping for something that is meant to carry a lot of weight, the build quality should be your first priority. The last thing you’d want to happen is for a critical component to fail on you while you’re using a strongman yoke. There are three things you’d want to look for in terms of build quality:
- Strength of steel used.Considering the nature of this device and how it’s used, nothing short of 11-gauge steel is going to be enough. With 11-gauge steel tubing, you’re looking at decent weight capacity and durability. Just about every model on our list meets this requirement.
- Uprights and tubing.Tubing used for the uprights can definitely impact the quality of a yoke. What you’re looking for is at the very least a pair of 2″ x 2″ uprights although 2″ x 3″ is the preferred choice.
- Decent hardware.The nuts and bolts are often the most overlooked aspect of any rack or rig’s design. Getting a strongman yoke with quality hardware that is strong enough to do its intended job is imperative for your own safety. Avoid yokes that have less than two bolts on each side of the crossbar, as well as yokes with questionable thin hardware. Rogue’s 5/8″ bolts are the gold standard.
Features and Functionality
As you’ve probably noticed by now, yokes are multifunctional by design. This means that certain yokes can be used as squat racks, bench presses or weighted sleds. Some come with pull-up bars as seen on our list above. However, none of these features are standard by any means. If you’re looking for a yoke that will double as a squat rack, you’ll want to look for something that has a decent set of J-Cups, side-mounted pegs and proper hole spacing. As it turns out, not all yokes come with those features. That’s why it’s important to carefully look for the features you want. Additionally, some brands offer some or all of these features as aftermarket upgrades so watch out for that as well.
Weight Rating and Height
Yokes need to be rated for weight you’re looking to load and carry on them. We’re talking anywhere from 600 lbs. to 1000 lbs. max. Some meet this requirement, and some don’t. The important part is to know. There’s nothing wrong with getting a yoke rated for lower weights if you don’t intend to load it past its limits. As a matter of fact, such a yoke might be great for beginners on a budget since it will probably be cheap. However, don’t risk injury or worse by loading a yoke past its limits. It’s just not worth it in the long run. As far as height goes, yokes generally come in 72″ and 92″ versions while some brands, like Rogue, offer 110″ yokes as well. The added height is there to enable you to do pull-ups on your yoke while the tallest models make it possible to use rings as well. Which height you’ll go for is a completely subjective thing but keep in mind that taller means more expensive.
Frequently Asked Questions About Strongman Yokes
Now that we know what to look for in a strongman yoke, let’s talk about some of the most frequently asked questions regarding these rigs.
What is a strongman yoke?
A strongman yoke is a strength and conditioning implement frequently used in strongman training and competition. It enables you to perform weighted yoke walks, which is a staple strongman event. In other words, it’s a rig that you can load up with plenty of weight and pick up with your back as support. But, how is that different from a barbell, you might be wondering? Yokes are designed from the ground up for the purpose of weighted carries. As such their center of mass is much lower. Pushing your body to failure with a yoke doesn’t require you to rack up a barbell on a squat rack somewhere. All you have to do is squat a bit and the rig will contact the ground. Yokes are one of the most important and most versatile tools in any strongman’s toolbox and if space and budget allow, an incredibly useful addition to any home or garage gym.
How much does a strongman yoke usually weigh?
Although they’re designed to be loaded with heavy weights, a standard strongman yokes themselves usually weigh somewhere between 160 lbs. and 200 lbs. depending on which model you go for. Shorter yokes will typically on the lighter side, while those kitted out with all kinds of accessories will be closer to that 200 lbs. mark. The amount of weight you add to this baseline is completely up to you. Most yokes will accept anywhere from 600 lbs. to 1000 lbs. of weight depending on the make and model.
What muscles does the yoke walk work?
Yoke walks activate almost all of the major muscles in the body in the single exercise. Yoke walks will hit your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, hip flexors, lower back, obliques, lats, traps and to some extent, even your pecs. More importantly, this type of exercise will activate a vast array of smaller stabilizer muscles that you usually don’t use all that often. Because of that, it’s one of the key strongman activities, and should be part of the training of anyone serious about improving their strength and conditioning.
How do you use a strongman yoke?
One of the core principles of yoke training is to be smart with weights and to respect the recovery times. It is very easy to push your body over the limit. There are generally three different types of strongman yoke training you can do:
- Heavy weights over a short distance
- Medium weights over medium distance
- Light weight over a long distance
Either way, be prepared to take things slow because weighted carries are a whole different ball game compared to most other strength-based activities, especially if you’re not used to them. If you’re interested, check out the video below that shows how to use a Rogue Y-Series Yoke
- Best Strongman Yoke At a Glance
- 1. Rogue Yokes
- 2. Titan T-3 Series Yokes
- 3. TDS Fitness Strongman’s Yoke
- 4. Fringe Sport Strongman Yoke
- 5. Valor Fitness Strongman Yoke Rack
- Should You Get a Strongman Yoke?
- Choosing the Right Strongman Yoke
- Frequently Asked Questions About Strongman Yokes