Full-Body Exercises

Flippin' Tractor Tires

Build functional power and raw slabs of beef with free equipment.

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Tire Flips

Ever wonder why most of the newest “space age” machines at your chrome palace gym require you to sit or lay down?

Plain and simple, comfort and ease take precedence over results. Opting for the path of least resistance, though, is committing to a path of the least results. This is a total antithesis to the tire flip. Properly applied, the tire flip can aid in building limit strength, explosive power, slabs of muscle, flexibility and endurance to boot. 

Free Equipment

Unlike purchasing the latest trendy machine that requires taking out a second mortgage and parting with your kid’s college fund—tires are totally free.  Any junk yard or tire yard that has tractor tires has to dispose of them and pay to do so; you are considered a blessing to take what they consider a liability off their hands. Their liability can be one of your biggest assets in building a stronger, more powerful physique.

Famous personal trainers, equipment manufactures and chain gyms often do not mention tire flips because of the price tag—tire flips benefit no one but you—the user.

Functionality

The tire flip is a long-time staple in strongman contests and has a huge carryover to any combative sport or sport that requires explosive power or strength. Football players and MMA athletes have reaped the benefit of forward thinking strength coaches for years with tire flips.

Triple extension movements are considered “functional” movements by strength coaches. Triple extension means extension of the ankles, knees, and hips—think a vertical jump, a big hit in football or even sprinting. For decades, the go-to triple extension by the establishment is the power clean.

Tire flips force athletes into triple extension and are technically much simpler to learn than an Olympic lifting variation. However, unlike a power clean in which you reach triple extension and then must catch the bar in a passive position on your heels, after triple extension in the tire flip, you violently push the tire down, as if it were an opponent. When you have the some son of a buck on his heels, put him in the ground! The tire teaches this.

tire flip

Technique

Technique is not complicated but requires mastery to avoid injury. Follow these guidelines:

  • Assume a four-point stance as if playing football, and set up with your chest pushing into the tire. Arms should be outside the legs, butt down and back flat.
  • Like any other ground-based lift, foot position varies individual to individual; a good starting point is your most powerful vertical jump stance, for most folks this will be in the hip width range.
  • From this position, lift the tire by using your hips to drive the tire upward, don’t use your arms! Triple extending the ankles, knees and hips, some athletes may literally “jump”.
  • As you triple extend, get under the tire to catch, similar to a power clean, and from the position push the tire as fast and hard as possible away from you. (Do not attempt a curl, this where athletes have injured biceps.)
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

There are variations of technique, like the sumo start (hands inside thighs) or using one knee to assist in lifting the tire as it comes up. The described technique is a great start point, master it and then individualize it.

Starting Size

Assuming you have an understanding of technique, a good place to start and master technique is approximately your deadlift max. Remember, half the tire is ground.

Years ago, as a high school strength coach, every girls volleyball player could flip a 220-pound tire with ease. Every single member of the football squad could flip a 430-pound tire; most competitive strongman contest will use a minimum of 650 pounds.

Training Guidelines

  • Do 6-15 singles with 30-second breaks between them with a light to moderate weight for explosive power. 
  • For strength, do sets of 1-5 reps with heavy weight.  Take a full recovery between sets, do 2-4 sets. 
  • For muscle hypertrophy, do 3-5 sets of 4-8 repetitions with moderately heavy weight and rest 90-180 seconds between sets. 

Final Thoughts

Tire flips can be performed as part of your legs or back workout and if you really want to switch things up, consider an entire strongman events day. Build a bigger, stronger, more powerful you with tire flips.

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