Maxime Boudreault has been absent from competitive strongman competition while recovering from a broken shin. However, he has since returned to training and is expected to make his first competitive appearance since that injury at the 2023 Shaw Classic on Aug. 19-20, 2023, in Loveland, CO.
On July 4, 2023, Boudreault returned to his YouTube channel to publish a video wherein he explains how to properly perform a yoke walk with strongwoman Samantha Belliveau performing the demonstration. Check it out below:
View this post on Instagram
Don’t Rush the Pick-Up
People tend to rush the pickup, and that’s the most important part.
The quality of the pick-up of the yoke is usually the determining factor if the walk will be good or bad, according to the 2022 Canada’s Strongest Man champion.
When getting in position to lift the yoke, it should rest on the traps, not on or at the base of the neck. From there, Belliveau demonstrates pushing away from the yoke to activate her back. Boudreault noted a common tendency he sees of athletes trying to pull the sides of the yoke in to help with their brace before the pick-up, but Boudreault recommends pushing them out as a way to activate the lats.
View this post on Instagram
With the yoke resting on the traps and pushing out against the sides, Belliveau places her feet in line with the yoke’s pillars and scoops her chest up. Doing so allows the spine to remain in a neutral position with the core braced to maintain an overall tight package under the implement. It also ensures the neck is out of the way and more protected from injury.
If your hips are not forward…the pressure will come from your lower back.
The pick-up of the yoke is less of a squat and more of a good morning. By driving the hips forward while maintaining a tight brace, the yoke will drive up and into position for the walk. Keeping the hips forward will maintain a more comfortable center of gravity that will allow for a more natural walk than if the hips fall back.
Adjusting the Height
While every athlete’s structure is different, and the quality of their pick-ups can vary, Boudreault recommends the height of the yoke be adjusted in the range of chest height to just below the traps. The lower the yoke, the lower the weight to the ground and, therefore, the potential for wobbling risks the weight hitting the floor and slowing the run. However, the tradeoff of a higher yoke is more stability, but the weight can feel heavier, slowing the run down.
For yokes that weigh 1,000 or more pounds, Boudreault personally prefers a higher yoke because he feels his “squat is drastically weaker than his run.” A higher yoke means a shorter pick-up. Regardless of the yoke height, Boudreault urges picking it up in a walking-width stance rather than a wide stance, as the latter implies the first pair of steps jarring the yoke side-to-side, requiring more stability early in the run, which can potentially slow it down.
Featured image: @max.boudreault23 on Instagram