Tire Flip: Benefits, Muscles Worked, and More

published by: Debbie Luna
Last Updated:
November 27, 2022

Nowadays, unconventional tools are often used in many workouts. These tools range from sandbags and ropes to heavy tires. While some people might consider using such objects to be laborious and impractical, these unconventional tools are still able to produce the same, or even more, benefits that may be reaped from the usual gym equipment.

Tire flipping is one exercise often seen in strongman events. However, apart from being used as a challenge in these competitions, the tire flip is a useful workout that targets almost all major muscle groups of the body, especially the posterior chain muscles. Additionally, upper body muscles such as the deltoid, trapezius, biceps, and pectoral muscles are also worked in this exercise.

The tire flip is able to enhance explosive power development, increase muscle hypertrophy, improve stability, and improve functional movement patterns. Although there are many benefits to doing the exercise, these only come to fruition when mistakes are avoided, thereby also avoiding injury.

What is a Tire Flip?

Tire flipping, which involves dragging tons of tire weight, is now one of the most popular forms of exercise among those who are obsessed with staying in shape. Due to the difficulty of acquiring the necessary skills, tire flipping has become an increasingly popular form of exercise.

tire flip

Popularized by strongmen competitions, tire flipping offers a distinct strength and conditioning training that easily translates to a number of activities benefiting both athletes and non-athletes. 

How to Perform the Tire Flip

To perform the tire flip, stand in front of the tire with the feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down and grab the bottom of the tire with your hands, keeping your torso upright and your arms slightly bent and slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. To flip the tire, engage the core and then drive the legs through the ground to extend the ankles, knees, and hips while lifting the tire. Repeat this motion for the desired number of reps to complete a single set.

It is important to note that the power to flip the tire should be generated from the legs. The arms grab the tire, but the bulk of the lifting strength comes from the lower legs. Lastly, avoid using the arms as the primary source of strength to lift and flip the tire to prevent excessive strain or injuries from occurring.

Muscles Worked in a Tire Flip

Only very few exercises match the tire flip in terms of the number of muscle groups engaged in a single activity. This is because tire flipping requires the use of almost every muscle in the body.

It engages the same muscles utilized in a deadlift, such as the hamstrings, gluteal muscles, quadriceps, adductors, spinal erectors, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, and core muscles. It basically works out the bulk of the posterior chain. 

muscled used to tire flip

Aside from deadlift muscles, tire flipping recruits muscles used in pushing as well, such as the triceps brachii and pectoral muscles. Additionally, it also works the muscles in the anterior chain, such as the biceps and shoulder muscles, when transitioning from lifting the tire to pushing it to flip.

Although the tire flip might seem like a workout primarily involving the upper body, the lower body does most of the work to get one side of the tire off the ground. Lifting the tire with the upper body might lead to serious injury.

Benefits of the Tire Flip

Increased Muscle Strength and Size

Like other exercises that require a great deal of strength, the tire flip also increases muscle strength and power. According to a 2017 study, flipping a tire requires the extension of the waist, the knee, and the ankle, thus being effective in the improvement of strength and power in these regions.

The tire flip is used as an alternative to deadlifts because the action of lifting the tire from the ground is very similar to the motion involved in lifting barbells. Hence, the increase in muscle size seen in the deadlift is also seen when doing tire flips.

Improves Cardio Endurance

A common misconception about the tire flip is that this workout is entirely for muscle building. However, the tire flip is also a good cardio workout because it increases the heart rate for long periods of time hence requiring a steady supply of oxygen.

Improves Stability

The tire flip requires the function of the core muscles in order to lift the tire off of the ground. As with any other exercise that requires core function and improves core strength, the tire flip is also able to improve stability.

Improves Functionality

Functional exercises are defined as movements conducted with different forms of equipment or body weight, targeting numerous muscles, traversing multiple joints, and incorporating more than one movement plane. In order to be considered functional, exercise training plans should be created to replicate everyday jobs or activities in order to make training adaptations more transferrable and make training more useful.

The tire flip falls under this category of exercise as it potentially works all muscles in the body. Adding the tire flip to a workout regimen thus prepares the body for daily activities such as lifting objects and rising from a seat or the floor, among others.

Common Mistakes to Avoid During a Tire Flip

Hips Set Too High

The tire flip is an excellent way to work three specific body movements at a 45-degree angle: hip extension, knee extension, and ankle plantar flexion. Because of this, the tire flip is considered to have a great carryover to sports such as sprinting, swimming, and other sports that require an explosive start-off and depend on the triple extension of the hips, ankles, and knees. 

When the hips are set too high, it ruins the mechanics of training these specific movements and instead puts more pressure on the upper body, ruining the power build-up intended for those muscles.

Uneven Force on the Tire

Applying uneven force between both arms on the tire is another common mistake when performing this workout. Imagine dropping a coin, and it spins or wiggles around, going slower and slower over time before it stops; this is what happens to the tire if the force applied between both hands is uneven.

The occurrence of such a phenomenon will result in a slower-timed set. In addition to this, there is a possibility that the lifter or other individuals around might be put in harm's way since the movement of the tire could become chaotic, and the impact of the tire's weight striking a person could result in injuries. To fix this, ensure the application of equal force on the top of the tire as this is pushed up and then down to the ground.

Narrow Grip

When lifting the tire in a tire flip, it is recommended for the arms to be set at a wider distance while gripping the tire with the arms fully extended. This is so that the power of the lift comes mainly from the hips instead of channeling it to the biceps. 

With a narrow grip, the arms will be bent at the elbow joint, forcing the biceps to exert too much force to lift the weight of the tire. This creates an excessive strain on the biceps and may eventually lead to injury.

Final Thoughts

The tire flip is a great way to use almost all of the body's muscles and is good for both building strength and increasing the heart rate. Apart from this, the tire flip is also a good functional exercise that is beneficial for activities of daily living and sporting activities.

While it may seem that there is no downside to performing this workout, it is important to take caution when doing tire flips as the common mistakes mentioned above may lead to serious injury.

References

1. Iskandar MM, Mohamad NI, Othman S, Nadzalan AM. Metabolic cost during tyre and rope functional training. Journal of Fundamental and Applied Sciences. 2017;9(6S):1050-62.

Debbie (Deb) started powerlifting and Olympic lifting in High School as part of her track team's programming; She continues to train in order to remain athletic. Inspire US allows Deb to share information related to training, lifting, biomechanics, and more.
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