Welcome to our first blog post! In our desire to further expand on what motivates us here at the Yoak we will start publishing periodic instalments on a full suite of things related to movement, training, and of course our product the Composite Yoak™. We’re committed to making these posts informative, evidence based, and most of all, accessible. Feedback and comments are always welcome and we look forward to respectful and thoughtful dialogue with you all!
Our first piece will discuss the Yoak™’s use for the Pendular Yoke Walk; a derivative of the traditional Yoke Carry or Yoke Walk, a movement with tremendous training potential. As described in a Breaking Muscle article:
Trained in the correct manner, it can be an incredible strength and power builder, not only for strength athletes, but also for athletes of any sport.— Chet Morjaria of Strength Education
Since the Yoak™’s introduction to the broader fitness community, one movement has been shown to best convey the device’s training function: The Pendular Yoke Walk. Simple in concept, and ancient in purpose, the Pendular Yoke Walk challenges core musculature in a way that is humbling and perspective giving for even the strongest. The concept is simple: add dynamic and dimensional instability to your load to stimulate your neuro-muscular pathways. In short, add complexity, not weight!
This Stability Training methodology can be applied to all of the modes enabled by the Yoak™: Suspension, Bar, Parallette, and Squat/Yoke. The benefits of Stability Training are many and well documented: improved antagonistic and synergistic muscle recruitment, real-time feedback on your whole-body inertia, and most-of-all, improved perspective on how you move through space. While most research has been focused on ground-up stability training via devices that introduce an unstable surface (BOSU, Dyna Disc, Wobble Boards etc.), the Yoak™ provides an opportunity to introduce instability from the top-down. In the case of the Pendular Yoke Walk, each step yields instant feedback and randomized “Pendular” movement in the load that requires complex core stabilization.
Rules of Engagement
Interested in trying a Pendular Yoke Walk?
- Respect the Instability Element - It is a simple but serious training methodology with limitless potential. Never load the Yoke with more weight than you can safely manage in a dynamic environment. Thoughtful engagement will safely lead to optimal results.
- Start Small - This device is not about how much or how many, but about how well. Current literature suggests Stability Training reduces maximum load specific force output to no more than 50% of traditional strength movements. This is due to the energy diverted to load stabilization. We recommend starting well below 50% of your 1-Repetition Maximum for a traditional Yoke Walk. 25-30% is initially adequate.
- Move Slowly - Newton’s Third Law of Motion states every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The Pendular Yoke Walk demonstrates this perfectly.
- Repeat Often at First - Re-patterning muscles to engage synergistically is best accomplished with repeated stimulation. This means rather than trying to carry the load for long periods, start by short walks. Even three or four steps in each direction before turning around will help you to improve your core stability if repeated several times in a workout.
An excellent example of the core stabilization required to undertake the Pendular Yoke Walk is demonstrated in the following: While visiting NYC recently, the Yoak™ introduced the Pendular Yoke Walk to Crossfit South Brooklyn members. Rather than focussing on maximum load, participants were encouraged to start with minimal weight and tune in to the novelty and the unique challenge. The results were a humbling, enlightening, and inspiring experience. Thoughts quickly migrated to what contribution this movement could make towards traditional strength training programs.
If you’re looking to integrate stability training and the Pendular Yoke Walk into your regimen, here’s how we recommend you do it:
- Integrate - Literally and figuratively. That means treat Stability Training and the Pendular Yoke Walk as a complement to your traditional strength training practice much like you would stretching, and other mobility work. Here’s a great academic article on Foam Rolling, an example of the latter, by Pearcey et al. including co-author Jon-Erik Kawamoto of JKConditioning.
- Do it consistently - We recommend preceding your traditional Yoke Walk with a Pendular Yoak™ Walk to get your stabilizing muscles firing before moving on to a more stable and heavy load. An example of this type of pro-active muscle engagement can be seen in the “Pull-Through” described by Dr. Zach Long of “The Barbell Physio”, where glutes are recruited prior to hip extension/hinge exercises like the Squat, Deadlift, or Kettlebell Swing.
- Start with a low centre of mass - Before lifting Pendular Yoke walk loads from ply-boxes or other surfaces, start with your loads on the ground using longer straps or slings.
- Experiment - Once you are feeling stable and confident with your lighter loads, add a bit of weight or change the levers. The latter means suspending slightly unbalanced loads, using shorting cam-straps/slings, or using rubber bands instead of slings and cam-straps.
Add a Yoke Walk to Your Routine
While the Pendular Yoke Walk is being embraced by the Crossfit and Strongman community, other applications and disciplines have commented on the potential benefits the exercise can offer.
- Downhill Skiers like the the randomized movement for simulating eddies created when moving at 90 mph (145 km/h).
- Hockey Players and Nordic Skiers like the challenging of balancing their upper body while in movement, similar to balancing on the small surface area of a skate or a nordic ski.
- Cyclists appreciate the Pendular Yoke Walk’s ability to fully engage the core musculature required to seamlessly integrate the force generated by the lower body through the bike frame.
- The novel neuro-muscular stimulation offered by the Pendular Yoke Walk pushes Circus Performers and Gymnasts to hone their balance and core stability in ways they couldn’t previously.
Thanks for reading and looking forward to the ensuing discussion!
Have fun and safe Stability Training.
— The Yoak Team