Strongman Tire Flip
The Strongman Tire Flip is one of the most basic, and most popular strongman events today. I will tell you how to train the tire flip for maximum results.
The first time I competed in the Strongman Tire Flip event was in August of 2001. It was the Washington's Strongest Man contest and there was some serious competition. Jesse Marunde- 2nd place at the World's Strongest Man competition in 2005, Grant Higa- Strongman Pro, Corey St. Clair- Strongman Pro, and many others. This was a year or two before these guys became professionals, but they were certainly on there way up.
I had no idea how to do the Strongman Tire Flip, and I had never attempted to flip a tire before. As a matter of fact, I had no strongman training equipment, and my strongman training was really just powerlifting training. I didn't have a strongman workout designed to work on the events, and until then, I didn't know that anyone else did either. I didn't think I would have any problem with the Strongman Tire Flip though. I had done a 711 pound deadlift earlier that year, and I knew that was more than any of the other competitors. I figured that if my lower back was stronger than theirs, I would beat them in the event.
My turn came, and so far nobody had flipped the tire for more than 5 or 6 flips. Bull Stewart, on the microphone, said, "Here comes someone who can take this all the way!" I honestly believed that, and I was ready. As soon as I attempted to lift the Tire I knew I was in trouble. I had taken my grip about halfway down the tire, instead of underneath. I mistakenly believed that by not squatting all the way down, I would be in a better pulling position, and be able to perform the strongman tire flip more explosively. I struggled with the first flip, and the second was a little harder. After I barely made the fifth flip, I was wiped out. I had nothing left and I just stood there, leaning on the tire, trying to catch my breath until the time ran out. I was so embarrassed, and my body was in so much pain, that I wanted to just quit and go home!
I eventually recovered and finished the contest, finishing 4th out of the 12 or so competitors, but I never forgot the humiliating lesson from my first strongman tire flip. You must train on the strongman equipment and do a strongman workout specializing on the events in your upcoming contest, if you want to compete with the big boys. I don't care how strong you are, if you don't know the right way to do these events, your performance will suffer.
Supplements to Improve your Strongman Tire Flip!
I didn't compete in the Strongman Tire Flip for a couple of years after that. In fact, I didn't compete in any strongman contest during that time. I watched Jesse Marunde compete in the World's Strongest Man on TV, and started thinking, maybe I wasn't so bad. Maybe I was facing some tough competition, and I just wasn't prepared. About 6 weeks before the contest I heard about the Spokane's Strongman Showdown in my hometown of Spokane, Washington.
I decided to enter and see what I had learned. One of the events was the Strongman Tire Flip, so this time, I went to a tire store for earth movers and large truck and tractors. They had some used tires they were just going to dispose of, and they were more than happy to let me pick one out. I wanted a tire that weighed about 750 pounds. The one I picked out seemed about right, although I later found out that the reason it felt so heavy was that it actually weighed over 900 pounds! Anyway, the guys at the store got the forklift and loaded it into the back of my truck, and didn't charge me a penny. I took it home and began my training.
I watched videos of the strongman tire flip from my own contests as well as the World's Strongest Man on ESPN, to try and figure out what the proper technique was. It looked like you needed to grip the tire underneath, move your feet back a little, and lean into it like a football sled. I tried that and found that I had me feet a little too far back, and I was pushing more than lifting. That made the initial part of the flip, getting the tire off of the ground, a lot harder. I played around with my technique some more that day, but didn't feel like I mastered it.
A couple of weeks later, my brother Sam came to visit and to train for the same contest. Our wives were on the deck watching us try to flip the tire, and imagine my dismay when Sam was flipping the tire better than I was. I outweighed him by more than eighty pounds and he was better at the Strongman Tire Flip event than I was! That was another embarrassing moment, and I was determined to master the tire flip and beat everyone at the upcoming contest.
After a couple of practice sessions I realized that I needed to keep my feet a little closer to the tire for the initial lift. I would stand about 18-24 inches from the tire, squat down, and place my hands under the tire. The next thing is the grip. In training, I like to use a sticky spray, but most competitions don't allow it, so hand placement is crucial. If at all possible, I like my hands to be about 12 inches apart, with a solid grip on the tread. On some tires, the tread doesn't allow you to reach underneath, or the tire is so narrow, that if you grip close, you won't be able to put your chest against it while you lift. In those circumstances, it is best to grip really wide, and pull in toward your body. That way you use the tension from pulling the tread toward your body, and the power from pushing your chest into the tire, to lift it off the ground. A good idea is to check the tire before the contest and get a few practice flips to see what kind of grip to use. You don't want to try and figure it out during the event, or you will lose valuable time.
Once you have your grip, lift up to break the tire free. As the tire begins to come up. drive your chest into it and push as if you were driving into a football blocking sled. As you step forward, following the tire, drive your knee upward into the tire, giving it an extra push upward. This can help you get the tire moving faster to the top, where you need to follow through, in one continuous motion, pushing the tire over. After you have made that final push to flip the tire, you aren't done. The Strongman Tire Flip requires you to either flip for distance in a time limit, or flip over a set distance for the fastest time. Either way, you want to keep flipping without wasting any time. As soon as you have made the push to send the tire over, follow it to the ground, getting into your starting position as quickly as possible and do it all over again. I can't stress this enough, the transition between flips can make the difference between 1st and 5th place!
Obviously, you need to eat properly, take good supplements and get good quality sleep to maximize your success.
I hope you have learned something from this, and can avoid the public humiliation I endured. Good luck to you, and I hope to see you on the Strongman circuit!