Why Strongmen Love The Tire Flip

There’s more than meets the eye with a tire flipping workout.

Everyone is looking for fun and inventive ways to get fit and mix up their exercise routine, but many of the basic workouts that have been done for years will give you exactly what you need, if not more. For those looking to increase their strength and conditioning while also doing something different, grab a large tire and get ready for the tire flip. Tire training adds different elements that other exercises cannot touch, and while tires are most recognizable from strongman events, everyone can use them to boost their overall training. For the benefits the tire flip offers, it is no wonder why strongmen love it.

Strongman competitions have increased in popularity in recent years and with that, the training techniques used to bulk these strongmen up have begun to be incorporated in everyday gym-goers workouts. Since the tire flip only requires the tire, this has become a cheap and effective way to really boost training. With various movements and exercise that be done with a tire, it is one way to incorporate a traditional exercise into your routine to increase your functional strength and raise performance to a whole new level.

tire flip

What Is Functional Training?

Functional training is specific movements that mimic the demands of everyday activities. As a result, functional training can help you become stronger, more flexible, and better at handling everyday tasks to avoid unnecessary injury (1). The tire flip works many muscle groups and relies on movements performed in your regular life making it a great exercise for functional strength and development. For strongmen, it keeps them perfecting the skills for a competitive event while also strengthening many muscle groups and keeping them injury free.

Benefits Of The Tire Flip

The tire flip incorporates multiple movements including a squat, a lifting motion, which is then followed by a pushing motion. As a result, you target different muscles on each of those movements including both upper body and lower body muscles. It works your posterior chain, which consists of your back, glutes, and hamstrings to build lower body strength and explosive power (2).

As a complex exercise, it requires the use of other stabilizing muscles throughout your entire body to help with this motion. Maintaining good posture forces your upper body to work equally as hard, and while the lifting movement is important, it should be noted to not lift directly straight up. You will find this works best with a driving technique until you get to the point of pushing it over.

tire flip

By maintaining a tight core and solid form, you will get a good ab workout. As with many exercises, the core serves as the foundation for support to keep your body locked tight to avoid any extra movements that could result in injury. Flipping tires should be about technical failure, not physical failure (3). The benefit of this is that your focus is strictly on form and once that starts to fall apart, you stop and reset. Whether this be to help mind-muscle connection or simply to keep you safe, working hard doesn’t have to mean you don’t work smart also.

As a physically demanding exercise, however, it will get your heart rate going and work your endurance, both muscular and aerobic. This exercise has been used in various obstacle course races and competitions to test both strength and endurance capabilities. Your power output will increase for this is an explosive movement. Great for increasing quick athletic performance, once you nail this down, the tire flip will be a great exercise and it will become apparent why strongmen love it so much.

How To Properly Do It

After a good warm-up, the tire flip exercise can begin. Place your desired sized tire on the ground making sure there is enough room to flip and continue the exercise. Place your toes against the tire and get down into a solid squat position with your knees bent and your hips down and back. With a tight core and neutral spine, grab the tire and drive your hips up as you lift the tire. It is not so much a lift straight up as it is a driving motion using your lower body for support and power.

tire flip

Once the tire is at the right position (around your stomach or chest area), flip your hands over to your grip which is now one in a pushing position. This is a good time to do a posture check and make sure your core is still tight and spine is still neutral. Push the tire to tip it over and let it fall. Jump into the starting position to repeat, or take your time and reset for the next rep. The choice is yours.

Tire Flipping Tips

Depending on the size tire and your skill level, there are some things to know before you embark on this strongman adventure. If you are using a shorter tire, it does not require the same mobility as a larger one. In this instance, your grip can find the tire wedged between your fingertips and forearms. For a much larger and higher tire, the demand is different and you find the tire wedged between your fingertips and chest. This is important because it will help take pressure off your biceps and other potentially vulnerable muscles and tendons. Along with grip, it is really important to maintain good posture. Become technically proficient before you start lifting and flipping crazy heavy tires to nail down form and avoid injury. In no time you’ll be doing what the strongmen do.

Wrap Up

The tire flip is a strange, but fun exercise. Fairly simple to perform and cheap to assemble, this workout will improve both upper and lower body strength while promoting endurance and power. Strongmen love this workout because it primes them for competition and forces them to work hard in a fun and engaging way. Solid form is key, but once you master it, you’ll be flipping tires taller than you. Boost your overall training and athletic performance and start to flip some tires. Strongmen love it and so will you.

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*Images courtesy of Envato

References

  1. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2015). “Functional Training Handbook”. (source)
  2. Mims, Jason L.; Ebersole, Kyle T.; Cornell, David J. (2013). “Tire Flipping-A Method of Assessing Functional Power Output for Firefighters”. (source)
  3. Keogh, Justin W. L.; Payne, Amenda L.; Anderson, Brad B.; Atknis, Paul J. (2010). “A Brief Description of the Biomechanics and Physiology of a Strongman Event: The Tire Flip”. (source)
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Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.