Giant Tires have become a popular way to add variety to your exercise routine in recent years. It seems that every strength gym around has at least one of these bad boys sitting proudly in their facility. Having competed in strongman for almost a decade, I take pleasure in knowing that something I enjoy so much is becoming more mainstream.
The giant tire flip can be used to develop strength and power in the hips of a client/athlete. That being said, using the correct form is extremely important when using this implement. Some coaches may think if a tire is light enough, that an athlete can get away with using "questionable" technique. It would be wise to avoid coaches and trainers that have this mentality. Ingraining a bad movement pattern will have negative consequences down the road. Just as learning a proper air squat prepares the body for loaded squat variations, so does learning a proper tire flip- the first time. I'd like to point out a few common mistakes that should be avoided in order to execute this lift AND keep yourself out of the orthopedic surgeons office.
Mistake Number 1:
Choosing The Wrong Sized Tire
There is an easy test you can do before attempting to flip a giant tire to see if it is the proper size. Stand next to the tire when it is lying flat on the ground. If the tire does not reach your knee cap, there is a pretty good chance that you cannot use proper form while executing the lift.
This tire fits the size requirements. The higher the tire sits, the easier it is to get your shoulders onto the sidewall of the tire. There are cases where an athlete has enough mobility to flip a tire that does not come up to his or her knee, but if multiple athletes will be using this as a training tool, it is better to be safe and acquire a tire that is thicker.
Mistake Number 2:
The Narrow Grip
When setting up for the tire flip, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first thing you should attempt to do is to find a proper grip on the tire. The grip should be as wide as you can comfortably make it on the tread of the tire. The idea is to turn your hands into hooks and your arms into fully extended supports. If your hands are nice and wide, you can complete the lift without having to channel the power from your hips through your much weaker biceps. Choosing a narrow grip can create excessive strain on the biceps, which will be inefficient and can also lead to injury. You wouldn't attempt to deadlift a heavy weight off of the ground with bent arms would you? The same concept applies to the tire flip.
This grip will bring all the bicep ruptures to the yard
The correct way to Grip N' Flip
Now that we have covered some of the errors on the starting phase of this lift, lets move onto some of the common mistakes of the transition phase.
Mistake Number 3:
Setting Up With The Hips Too High
One of the best aspects of the tire flip is that it teaches triple extension (extension of the hip, knee, and ankle) on a 45 degree angle. This just so happens to have great carry over to a lot of sports. When a sprinter is coming out of his or her stance, they are triple extending with a forward lean. When a linebacker executes a great tackle, they are triple extending with a forward lean. When a swimmer dives off of a starting block, they are triple extending with a forward lean. This great movement pattern can be absolutely ruined when a coach lets their athlete raise his hips high to execute a tire flip.
This is no position for a mighty warrior
Proper setup and triple extension on a 45 degree angle
High hips can happen either during the setup of the lift, or once an athlete initiates their hip drive. If it begins with their setup, it could be a hip mobility issue. If the hips raise during the drive, it can be attributed to weakness- one can either find a lighter tire or prop the tire up on a sandbag so that the tire is already slightly off the ground. Propping the tire slightly off the ground allows the athlete to practice keeping the hips down and develop proper mechanics. If your hips get too high you can end up doing the 4th mistake that is covered in this article...
Mistake Number 4:
Deadlifting The Tire
Let me start by saying that there is nothing wrong with deadlifting. It is a great movement pattern to develop strength in. However, attempting this motion with a tire sets you up for a deficit deadlift from hell. Most athletes lack the mobility to do deficit deadlifts. Additionally, deadlifting on a barbell allows for extra spinal stability from lat activation (keeping the bar pushed into your shins) as it is executed- which may not be the case when deadlifting a tire since you apply force away from your shins to maintain grip. Plus you would miss out on that wonderful angled triple extension.
Flexed lumbar tire flips on Monday = a sore back on Tuesday
Mistake Number 5:
Driving Over the Tire Unevenly
The last mistake is important to avoid when doing multiple reps with the tire. Particularly if an athlete is doing a set for time. If the tire is not driven over evenly, it will start to spin around on the floor much like spinning coin does as it slows down. This can slow your timed set immensely. It can also make the tire go rogue, which can be dangerous if you are doing tire flips in a populated area. To remedy this, make sure you focus on applying equal force on the top of the tire as you drive it over.
I hope this article helps coaches and athletes understand the fundamentals of this great movement. Keep your ass down, keep your grip wide, and spine neutral and enjoy all the benefits that this explosive exercise has to offer. Now here's how you get it done....