The Yoke is an awesome implement for building a ton of strength in your upper back, posterior chain, legs, and hips.
A typical Yoke is constructed with two steel uprights with a fat crossmember and four cornered posts for plate loading. They typically run several hundreds of dollars from places like Rogue, Titan, etc…
In this post, I'll show you how one DIY'er (@fullgrainleather) made his own Yoke for under $100 and how you can do it too.
This particular Yoke has been loaded up with 440 lbs without budging, so it's safe to say it's well built.
- 1.25″ spade bit (if 3/4″ pipe)
- 1.5″ hole saw bit (if 1″ pipe)
- 5/16″ socket
- 5/16 or 3/8″ drill bit
- Circular Saw
- Measuring Tape
- Chisel (or Hatchet, Plane, Router)
You can use a 1″ pipe, but this builder felt 3/4″ is more practical. The spade bit is much easier to use than the hole saw, and the 1″ pipe he felt was overkill.
- (9) 2×4
- (1) 2×2
- (1) 48″ pipe
- (2) 5″ pipe
- (4) close connectors
- (4) 6″ 5/16″ hex bolts + nuts
- (1) Box of 25 5/16″ Lag screws
- (1) Box (50) 5/16″ washers
- (1) Pack of shims
For outdoor storage, use pressure treated lumber, galvanized pipe, and galvanized hardware.
For indoor storage, you can save money by using black pipe instead. Additionally, don't use pressure treated lumber due to fume safety.
Building the Uprights
- Cut (6) 2x4s to the final height you want the uprights to be. (This one is 8’ because it lives outside, but if you want to fit it in your garage, you may want to cut it. Make sure this is at least 4” above where you want the bar to be.)
- Cut an additional 3.5” off 4 of the 6 pieces. You now have 2 long pieces and 4 slightly shorter ones.
- Make two stacks of three pieces, short piece on bottom, long piece in the middle, short piece on top. At one end, align all 3 pieces so the long one sticks out 3.5” on the opposite end, like a post.
- Measuring from the bottom of this post, mark where you want the bar to be on the uprights (This one is placed at 53” for a 6′ tall person, but it’ll vary by person.)
- Screw in 2 lag bolts with washers, 1 towards the bottom, 1 towards the top, to hold pieces of each upright together. Avoid the area you marked for the bar.
- Now that each upright is one piece, drill the hole for the bar at the spot you marked earlier. Drill as straight as you can to avoid a crooked yoke.
Building the Skids
- Cut (2) 2x4s exactly in half. Mark the center of each of these 4 skid pieces.
- Lay 1 skid piece and 1 upright on the ground at a right angle to each other. Slide the post of the upright over your center mark on the skid piece to make a T shape.
- Make sure the pieces are butted tightly against each other and drill 2 holes through the post of the upright and through the skid piece.
- Remove the 1st skid piece, roll the upright over to the other side, and center a 2nd skid piece under the post. Use the holes in the post as a template to drill matching holes through the second skid piece.
- Put the first skid piece back on top and bolt together through the holes you drilled.
- Cut (4) 16” pieces of 2×4. Place these between the two skid pieces, butted up to either side of upright’s post. Make sure they are tight against the upright, then lag bolt in place.
- Cut (4) 12” pieces of 2×2. Place these tight against the end of the last pieces you installed, sticking up. These will be the post to hold the weights like barbell sleeves.
- Measure the remaining distance to the end of the skid and cut a piece of 2×4 that length. Wedge it tightly against the weight posts and attach with a lag screw.
- Screw a connector to each end of the 4’ pipe, then screw a 5” pipe onto each end.
- Stand up the uprights and slide the pipe through the holes. Attach the last 2 connectors to the pipe on the outside of the uprights to prevent them from sliding off.
- Run any extra lag bolts you have through the uprights to hold them more firmly together.
- Some of the joints are bound to be loose at this point. Jam some shims in there until they are wedged tight. This includes between the pipe and the hole in the uprights, the intersection between the posts and the skids, the weight posts, etc… This will take it from a little wiggly to rock solid and allow you to address anything that is slightly crooked.
- The 2×2 weight posts (actual dimensions 1.5”x1.5”) will be slightly too large to fit through the holes in most plates. Trim the corners off with a chisel (or hatchet, hand plane, router, etc.) until weights slide on easily without jamming.
Not handy? That's OK, because you can just purchase a traditional Yoke from several manufacturers.
The benefit of doing it this way is that it will be more durable, will hold more weight, and you can use it as a squat rack, bench rack, etc…
The downside of course is that it will cost a good amount more than the DIY version.
Rogue Fitness Y-1 Yoke
This Yoke is built with 2×3 11-gauge steel and stands 72″ tall with the base. It uses four posts to load, each with a skid plate underneath to double as a sled.
The footprint is 50″ wide x 48″ long, and it has a weight capacity of 750 lbs. The crossmember is 3″ OD pipe, vs the 1″ or .75″ in the DIY project.
The Yoke comes with two j-cups to be used for squatting, benching, overhead pressing, etc… and the crossmember is fully adjustable. The hole spacing, depending on the location on the posts, will either be 1″ (Westside) or 2″. This is a nice feature because you can make more micro-adjustments through the bench zone.
One of the downsides to this style of yoke is the crossmember takes up several holes on each post. If you're really tall, this could pose a problem.
In order to combat this, Rogue also made a Y-2 Yoke and a Y-3 Rogue, which are 92″ and 110″ tall, respectively.
The cost difference between the three isn't too crazy, so if you're on the verge and you have the space, I would lean towards the Y-2 or Y-3:
Titan Fitness Yoke
Titan has recently launched its Rogue clones of the Y-1 and Y-2 Yoke. They call them the T-3 Yoke and the T-3 Short Yoke.
The specs are essentially the same, but the Rogue versions are slightly heavier and overall better built.
For the price; however, the Titan versions are attractive.
Note that there was an issue with some Titan yokes where some of the vertical posts weren't accommodating for some plates. Titan has stated they are resolving this issue, and the next run of yokes should not have this problem.
Fringe Sport Yoke
Fringe Sport has a compact yoke that has a weight capacity of 1,000 lbs. The 2″ crossmember can be adjusted at 14 different heights, with the tallest one being 74.5″ above the ground.
The primary difference with the Fringe Sport Yoke is that it offers six loadable pins vs four on the Rogue or Titan versions. Another difference is that the hole spacing is 2.5″ apart vs 1″ or 2″ on the Rogue/Titan. If you're looking to make those micro incremental height changes, this one could pose some issues for you. Otherwise, the higher weight capacity is a definite benefit.
Like the Rogue and Titan versions, the Fringe Sport Yoke comes with a pair of UHMW-lined j-cups.
If you're training strongman or you just want to add some variety to your strength training, the yoke is a great implement.
If you decide to build the yoke yourself following these instructions or something similar, I would love to see the results!
Send them to my email at Adam@garagegymlab.com or post them on Instagram and tag GarageGymLab so I can share with the community.
The bar is loaded,