training

Ditch That Cardio Machine & Flip Some Tires!

August 26, 2016 David McAuliff

You know what works. When you’re in the gym, moving iron, you know how to adequately stimulate your muscle fibers so that muscle size, strength, and leanness is improved. In the cardio realm, you know which treadmill and elliptical training practices get you lean. You’ve been training for years, reaching (at least) intermediate status, and you are well aware how to train the body. You know what work. 

Until it doesn’t.

There are times in every lifter’s training lifetime, when for some reason or another, they stop responding to the standard training protocols which have worked for week, months, or even years. You’ve been running a solid streak of 5 days a week in the gym for 14 week, and you’ve been making steady progress. Then one day, you start to tire. Your body slows down. You’re not sick, but you’re not at your strongest either. You’ve reached a point where your muscles are just plain not responding to the old way of doing things. The muscles have found their groove and the central nervous system is in need of something different, training-wise. When you reach this point, it’s time to try something new. And flipping tires may just be the workout boost you’ve been seeking!

There are many advantages to flipping tires as part of a training protocol. You will be able to target your muscles in both the cardio (aerobic) and weight training (anaerobic) approaches. You’ll grow the muscle fibers by stimulating them with new movements from new angles which they’ve never seen before. Moreover, it cannot be overlooked that flipping tires is, well, just plain fun! If you’re looking for a personal challenge and change at the same time. Training with a buddy can be challenging, inspirational, and fun. And yes, they do make some mean snapchat and Instagram videos, don’t they?

What sort of exercises can you do with a tire? Weighted farmer’s walk is just like it sounds. Pick up the tire and carry it until you fail. Rest, and do it again. Weighed yoke carry and prowler sled push or pulls are highly popular with athletes for functional tire training. Sled tug-of war is a great competitive training movement. Tire flipping is probably the most popular movement, and involves just flipping a tire as you move it across a field or parking lot. Sledge hammer tire smash is another useful functional movement. Put your imagination to work and you can probably create a dozen other tire-related movements which can target the muscle groups of your body. 

The workouts are remarkably similar to what you would use with weight. You’re aiming for 70 to 80% intensity with each repetition. The tire should never be so heavy that you can only move it once. You’ll want to move the tire for about 90 feet before taking a break. If you have a long track, you can do it in a single shot. If your gym parking lot is small, you’ll need to limit yourself to laps, which works the same. Move a tire for 90 feet, then stop and rest from 2 to 3.5 minutes, or until your heart rate is just about back to normal. Complete 4 sets of a tire movement, then move to the next. Use 2 to 4 exercises per tire training session.

How long should a tire workout last? You’ll complete each workout in 15 to 30 minutes, depending upon how far and how hard you wish to push yourself. Your rest times will vary. The level of conditioning you enjoy will improve quickly as your body grows accustomed to moving the weight.

You may be wondering if you can use tire training in conjunction with standard weight training. The answer, of course, is yes. Flipping tires is a great tool for building up your limbs, your core, and your basic muscle groups. It’s also highly useful for hitting those balance or stabilizer muscle fibers which are often neglected with standard training.

Safety comes first when training with tires. Wear gloves if you can. Proper footwear (even boots) can help you avoid a broken foot. Tires can be quite unpredictable at times!   Wear a back brace, and keep an eye on your surroundings. A close second to safety is something called consideration. If you’re in the parking lot flipping tires, the reasonability falls on you not to crash into pedestrians or other vehicles. Don’t make the gym owner regret opening up the parking lot for training because he has to face so many complaints about the tire flippers leaning on cars.

Remember that flipping tires alone isn’t enough to adequately train your physique. It’s a great way to change things up and keep your muscle fibers guessing. Any rut or groove they had found previously is going to quickly be washed away after 15 to 30 minutes of burning rubber. Use tire flipping for 3 to 6 weeks as a way to boost your training program. Then, you can return to your standard style of training.

If your goals go beyond physique building/bodybuilding, powerlifting, or other iron sports, and you’re a part of a so-called ‘real’ sport, such as hockey, football, or wrestling, then you may want to continue using tire flipping as part of your regular training program. Football player in particular are very fond of flipping tires because it emulates the motion enacted when they are moving other human beings in a tackle or when grappling on the offensive line. If this fits your training and sports performance goals, then you should continue to include tire training in your workout protocol. And of course, many in the CrossFit arena find great joy in flipping tires on a regular basis. Whatever your goal, if you find it enjoyable and contributing to your long-term success, and whether you choose to cycle or keep it constant, tire flipping can be a great addition to your training.  Good luck!



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