You’ve certainly seen the tire flip event in strongman competitions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make this incredible exercise a regular part of your muscle-building program.
Why Do Tire Flips?
To be honest, it’s just so tempting to simply say because they’re cool to do!
Flipping a huge, heavy tire is one of the ultimate, if not the ultimate, display of strength – the ultimate compound exercise. A compound exercise works several muscle groups at once.
Flipping a tire is a “compound-compound” exercise, in that several compound movements are performed all in one sweep.
No muscles are neglected in this super multi-joint exercise.
Even the calves get their share of the load, so for those of you with stick calves who are bored with monotonous calve raise routines, as well as anybody seeking to build lots of rock-hard muscle—give a tire flipping workout a try.
There’s No Such Thing As Being Too Weak To Do A Tire Flip Workout
When you hear of “tire flipping,” you’re likely picturing a person squatting, grabbing the implement, rising and pulling the tire, then pushing it into an upright position, then knocking it over.
However, this isn’t the only way to work out with a tire. Novices can also flip in pairs, and/or use light tires – tractor tires can be as light as 80 pounds.
Beginners can even start with a regular car tire. This exercise is not limited to big bruisers.
Just make sure you warm up first, preferably with some squats, squat jumps, walking lunges, pushups and light deadlifts. Toss in some chin-ups as well if these are fairly easy to you.
Keep the warm-up just that: a warm-up, because a tire flipping workout should be brutal if you’re serious about building muscle.
Before beginning a tire flipping drill, make sure that you have:
- Spot-on deadlift technique
- Spot-on barbell squatting technique
- Excellent pushup form
- Experience with walking lunges
Flipping a tire involves making transitions with force output, and it’s during these transitions that things can get hairy. Never conduct this workout in bare feet; always wear appropriate workout footwear.
Basic Tire Flip
If the tire is flat on the ground, your start position is like that of beginning a Sumo deadlift. Feet are far apart, hands between feet and gripping beneath the tire.
You may find it necessary to squat to 90-degrees to get a good starting hold. Now rise from this squat, maintaining the same kind of correct form that you would with a deadlift.
If the tire is high enough in terms of dimension, you’ll naturally press your chest or even the front of your shoulders into it as you bring it up (resembling a football player pushing against a sled).
It’s during this phase that the calves will be working hard. Lifting a knee so that the top of the thigh presses into the tire is very helpful in boosting the implement upright, especially as you transition to the next phase.
At some point you’ll need to transition from pulling upward deadlift style, to pushing outward as in a seated chest press. The transition usually occurs after the tire has passed waist level.
Fingers are initially pointing downward, and you must release the hands and switch them so that fingers are pointing upward, as they would if you were pressing against your front door to keep an intruder out.
As the chest press proceeds and the feet push against the ground, the tire will become upright. Knock it down and begin all over again.
The tire is too heavy if you can flip it only two times before having to rest. It’s too light if you can flip it 15-20 times without taking a break. Aim for 5-12 flips in a row.
How To Apply Progressive Overload
If you have access to various tire weights, that’s great, because you can then use heavier and heavier tires. But chances are you won’t have this luxury.
Getting stronger means getting bigger. Thus, your goal is to get stronger with tire flips so that your muscles will increase in size.
• Work on increasing the number of flips you can do in a row. If the only tire you have access to means a 2 rep max, then work with that; work on going three times before resting, then four, and so on.
• Once you get up to 10 or even 15 in a row, add the element of speed. See how fast you can complete these reps. Or, you can work on speed right from the get-go.
• Increasing the number of flips in a row, and flipping as quickly as possible without pausing, are goals to work towards for progressive overload.
What if you reach a point where you’re up to 15 quick flips in a row?
Ideally, you’ll want to use a heavier tire, but if one is not available, here are some ways to add intensity:
1. After every flip, immediately jump into the tire’s hole both feet at a time and then immediately jump back out, over the tire and onto the ground ahead of it.
Quickly scramble to the other side and flip again. Or flip from the side you landed on. Add that jumping in and out between each flip.
2. Wear a waited backpack.
3. Pre-fatigue yourself with chin-ups, squats or deadlifts.
4. Pre-fatigue yourself with the tire wall push. Set tire upright smack against a wall. Pull it towards you, release, then quickly push it back into the wall.
The more delayed the release, the more pushing you’ll need to do. If you push hard enough the tire will bounce back off the wall so that you won’t have to keep pulling it towards you; you’ll just be repeatedly pushing.
5. A variation of the above is for two people to push the tire back and forth towards each other, the pivot point being where the tire remains on the ground as the top is shoved back and forth between the two trainees.
6. Pre-fatigue: Prop one side of tire up at an angle on a sturdy support; stand in the hole, grab under the hole and pull the propped-up portion towards you for a standing row workout.
7. Flip the tire up a slight hill. Use steeper grades as you get stronger.
Tires Aren’t Just For Flipping
An entire workout session can be designed around a single tire.
Here are more tire exercises:
• Stand in the hole, then leap out and land both feet on the tire, legs in a complete squat. Leap back into the hole and repeat for reps.
• Place feet on tire and do elevated pushups.
• Have finger holes drilled into the tire at opposite ends. Stand in the hole, grab tire through the holes and lift off the ground, then set down, and so on for reps.
• Repeat the above except after you pick the implement off the ground, walk, holding the tire straight-armed. Walk till you can no longer walk.
• Do shoulder shrugs with fingers in the holes.
• With smaller tires, you can do tossing exercises. Toss the tire overhead behind you as hard as you can.
Or “pass” the tire out in front of yourself, similar to how a basketball is passed. Run to retrieve it and repeat, over and over.
Tire exercises are so effective that they need not be done more than once a week to be a very useful component of your muscle-building regimen.
For more details about how to do compound workouts for maximal muscle-building, you can read No-Nonsense Muscle Building Program by Vince DelMonte.
This book provides all the information you need for building lean muscle mass, whether you’re brand new to physique transformation, at an intermediate level, or even advanced and seeking the highest level of physique development possible. Meal plans are included.
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