T Nation

Help Building a Yoke


Background: I'm 5'8" 162ish. I am not a body-builder but know where to go for advice on targeted training.

I do reps with 100lb Chins and can overhead press over my BW. I deadlift ~400 pounds and last did 5x5 with 265 on squats (probably at 310ish max). In short, I'm not huge but making good progress. My upper back is strong I guess, but I want to put some mass on it as a side project while I continue my current routine. So, someone who has built a yoke, give me some specifics. A good 20min routine I could do after sleds or something would be ideal.


Lift heavy ass weight all the time...Deadlifts, heavy miltary presses and benches, rows and chins.

My yoke has been growing really fast as of late, and it's been after packing on 100 pounds to my deadlift and getting the weight up on all my core lifts.


What austin said + buy some straps and go heavy and, high reps on shrugs. Don't forget your protein. :slightly_smiling:


Are you intending on keeping your weight there for powerlifting or another weight class sport?


I go heavy a lot. Just between presses, shrugs, deads, and rows probably 7-8x/week. I was thinking more along the lines of adding a volume based routine 1-2x/week.

As far as my weight, its going up slowly and I'm fine with that. I like playing sports and maintaining some agility is something I am keeping in mind. I naturally run around 145-150lbs. Thanks for any and all comments


I love how shrugs get left out when they are the one exercise responsible for my traps being bigger than most. It is like the movement isn't cool enough or something...as if simply working for strength and size isn't enough.


yeah I love shrugs. How exactly do you suggest doing them? I have been doing 5x5 with a supra-heavy load and cheating as needed then supersetting with something light, very strict with isometric hold.s I have gotten stronger but don't think the yoke is growing... any tips will be appreciated.


I usually do 3-4 sets of 10 reps or more. I would not be worried about "5x5" with a movement like this.

There are very few people here I would take advice from as far as building a huge set of traps and most of the guys claiming deadlifts are all you need do NOT have huge traps.


Powercleans and snatches, man! Don't you see those olympic lifters? Jeez!


X, What about overhead lockouts? Do you think these would translate? I know they are supposed to be money for a stalled overhead press.


I was actually noticing the other day that while I've made good gains and reached my first weight goal I still have 0 yoke at all.

I'm not a big fan of shrugs but I do them anyways, I don't really feel them though. How do you all feel about Upright Rows instead of Shrugs?


^ I thought you meant this lol ^


Upright rows with an EZ bar and a slight forward lean feel pretty solid to me. Better as a 'finisher', though, since the weight you can use for these without jerking is pretty limited (at least, in my experience). I find them better suited for higher-rep work and wouldn't put them ahead of shrugs. Definitely wouldn't use them to replace shrugs if I could help it.

How much weight are you using for shrugs? I used to not 'feel' them, either, until I got to working with 5+ plates on them. It's one of those exercises you can pack quite a bit of weight on rather quickly if you set your mind to it, particularly if you aren't doing a heck of a lot to begin with. Once I made the effort to just pile the weight on instead of 'feeling the muscle' and what not, I was finding myself limited more by my ability to breath while holding the weight during higher-rep sets than by my trap/grip strength. I also started getting pretty damn sore traps the day after.

If you are only doing 2 - 3 plates for barbell shrugs, you might want to consider just focusing on driving that weight up as quickly as you can. You just might surprise yourself how quickly the strength comes for that particular exercise.


Why would you care about that? I mean really?

Are you competing in some kind of overhead press competition?

Do you know of any bodybuilders that think to themselves "man the one thing that's really holding my deltoids and traps back is a weak lockout on overhead press.."

I have to echo what Professor X is saying in this thread... if you want big upper traps, just do shrugs for gods sake.


Not sure what your beef is, but I was just curious if anyone (X in particular) had experimented with them. And you make it sound like its not productive to actually get stronger... not everyone, op included, cares entirely about the mirror. And just to be clear, as I said the lockout helps the actual press. And yes, I think a weak press can hold back whatever shoulder development you might be looking for.


Haha, I thought that as well.

I would say for upper back development, I really like shrugs or power high pulls/front rows. It really does seem like not enough people do shrugs, like Prof X said, but they are definitely a great exercise to add. I like front rows with a little body english, they always destroy my upper back.


Lol. If you want a big yoke, EAT and put on some weight while hammering away at shrugs, overhead presses, lateral raises, mid back work, upper chest work, etc.

Basically all the shit you should be doing anyways.


I have not heard that term before but I think I understand the concept. If this is simply a matter of not being able to get past a plateau (and the reasons for this are NOT that you simply haven't been eating or resting enough and haven't gained a pound of muscle since Madonna was really hot) then do whatever it takes to reach the next level.

But honestly, there may be twenty people on this site who need to worry about this from what I've seen. the rest simply suffer from the delusion of expecting significant strength increases without having to ever gain a pound.


Yet, when I say stuff like this, people like bricknyce tell everyone that all my advice is simply "eat more and lift heavy"....as if most here need much more complicated advice.

Most of the advanced bullshit people worry about is the concern AFTER much of the size has already been built.


For sure shrugs are great too. I forgot about them but reason I listed all the other exercises is because when I hear yoke I think, chest, delts, traps, and upper back.