Tire flipping has become more main stream since first coming into the popular scene with strongman and then CrossFit. This is mainly due to the brute force it takes to complete the task while working out your glutes, hamstrings and a lot of other muscles throughout your lower body and back. Also it is just fun to show off, but not everybody has the room or facility or tire for that matter to complete this exercise then what do you do?
So what can you use instead of tire flips?
One of the best alternatives to tire flips when first starting out is just using an old heavy punching back that weighs around 150lbs. This way you can get more reps in that will train you for whatever you may take on during game day or increasing your cardiovascular capabilities. You can use a heavy bag in a much smaller space the other main option is a heavy medicine ball exercises then of course deadlift into clean and jerk.
There are also some expensive options if you are looking to invest in your home gym or you can actually build something and even use something like a big rock if you just can't find a tire. There are really unlimited options just depends on where you live and how many junk yards you have close by. Free stuff on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist is always a good place to look. Below we have gone out and asked other tire lifters what the best alternatives are.
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Exercise Equivalent To Tire Flips
We didn't want you to only take our word for it so we hit the internet to find opinions from actual weightlifters, CrossFitters, and strongmen. This information was curated so the only thing changed is any spelling or grammar that was needed.
Real Tire Flippers
1. Relaxandrotate “Squats and Deadlift” – I would say work on your deadlifts and squats. Targeting a specific weight in a lift like this can be dangerous if it’s above your abilities. I speak from first hand experience after pulling my bicep attempting to flip the tire at the open house.
2. Mwest24 “Deadlifts a good start” – Deadlifts are good, but they start a little higher. I also like to get a really heavy dumbell, like 120+ or whatever you can handle, and put it on the ground on it's end, standing like you would for the tire, on top of a small 2.5 or 5 lb plate so I can get my fingers under it, and practice the first part of the flip, that's the hardest part for me. Also helps with the first part of the atlas carry. You could theoretically do deadlifts from a negative to simulate this.
3. Ognickp “Deadlifts” – I would also recommend deadlifts. As you get more comfortable and your form gets better, then add in variables. Change up your grip, the object you’re lifting, and height. I’ve also had good luck with practicing deadlifts when I’m already tired. Running before each set can simulate what your body is experiencing during a race.
4. KnicksAlways “Deadlifts of 250lbs+” – I was told if you can Deadlift 250 Plus you should be able to do the Tire Flip, but like every obstacle it depends on how your body is responding at that moment. Build that grip strength at well. You can’t wrap your hand around anything while flipping a tire.
5. Michail71 “Sumo Deadlift” – While I can deadlift 2.6x my body weight, I struggle a bit pulling directly from ground. I've done sumo deadlifts from a platform to help with picking up the Atlas stone. I figure the wider stance simulates the movement better. That could translate to the tire. I flip heavier tires (750 and 500) at the gym but the problem with the Spartan tires is just trying to get your hands under them.
6. Danny_b87 “Powercleans” – As everyone has said deadlift will help a lot but I would also recommend powerclean. That will help you develop that explosiveness to get it off the ground as well as get it high enough for the flip. Power clean, the motion to explode and toss the tire up from the bottom, that is what I have trained my team to do, and they kill it now. If you try deadlifting the tire you are not being efficient. Power clean is the motion to get it up and over fast and efficient. If you can fling at the top of the movement so it flips without getting your leg under it, fine. If not, use a thigh and lift with the leg it is on too. Last training was at 375 for the males and 210 for females and we soaked the ground prior for pure mud. Deadlifters froze and burpeed. Power cleaners breezed threough
7. PdxMark “Landmine Squat” – ‘m late to the party, but surprised no one mentioned the landmine squat with an underhand grip. Use smaller plates and start closer to the floor.
You can also practice the transition from the pull to the push with this movement – see how in the video, he switches before he starts squatting? Just press from there, and reverse the movement back to the floor.
8. Tdnewmas “Sumo Deadlifts” – Sumo deadlifts, heavy kettlebell swings, and cleans (power/hang) You honestly don't need as much strength as you think. I follow guys on Strava/Instagram who weigh less than 150lb who never fail the tire. The hardest part, obviously, is getting your hands under the tire. What I suggest is going to the Open House the Friday of race weekend and spending some time learning how to get the fingers underneath.
9. JamesVreeland “Sandbag Shouldering” – I would use a mix of sandbag shouldering, moderately heavy sumo deadlift high pulls, and thrusters. It's not going to be exact, but you are going to get similar pull/core tension/push mechanics out of both. Or if you have a grassy area to go all caveman and throw stuff around: squat clean thruster tosses, of the heaviest thing you can move around, will help you build explosive power.
10. LostSynn “Stones” – I don't have a tire either. But what I do have is a bunch of stones ranging in size from pebbles to boulders from the local farm fields. What I do is find one about the size of a small beach ball. Go out into the yard. Squat, lift the rock off the ground. Pull up to my chest as I stand. Then using both arms throw the rock. Quickly step up to the rock. Wash, Rinse, repeat.
Around 80% said deadlift is a good alternative so I would supplement that with Squats. The Landmine squat seems like the best alternative with using smaller size weights as well. This will come down to what you have access to, but if you attend a gym (outside of Planet Fitness) you should have this equipment there.
Tire Flip Alternative
Below is a list of Tire Flip Alternatives to get that same burn going bringing in the results sometimes quicker than tire flips themselves.
- Heavy Bag – preferably 150lbs+ bag. You will have to do more reps, but you will work on your form and endurance at the same time. So if you are training for sports this is a great alternative. Cost can also be free. Check local classifieds, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace.
- Medicine Ball – medicine ball slams and pickup torso rotations are a great example of how to get a tire flip workout in. Again will have to do a lot more reps, but it will help you get into shape and get ripped. Downsides are it can be pretty expensive to buy one if not used so check for deals. If you have a gym membership it may be an added bonus if they have them there like most do.
- Big Rock – you can simply go to a stone quarry (we have one next door) and lift stones and flip them over. Find big boulders different shapes and sizes to work on. The pros of this is that it can be free the biggest downside is risk to injury and make sure you wear gloves.
- Deadlifts – deadlifts are a great total body workout working similar to tire flips. The downside is that you start a bit higher then from the ground. You can also use heavy dumbbells if that is all you have for deadlifts. Weights have gotten more expensive so if you don't have the weights try searching for used. You can even use logs and such for deadlift depending on where you live. One weight to combat the lifting lower is to do straight leg from an elevated box position.
- Tire Exercise Equipment – there are numerous types of equipment that mimic the tire flip. Rogue fitness has some along with numerous others. The biggest downside is that the equipment can be very expensive maybe try to talk your gym into purchasing since most you only need a small space to use.
Tire Flip Without Tire
Tire flipping without a tire can be easy all you need is your gym weights and some standard compound exercises like squats and deadlifts. Then you can add variations like Landmine Squats and Lever Flips into that routine once you feel capable. Other lifts like Power Cleans, Clean and Jerk, Straight leg deadlifts, among others will help add that extra strength to muscles you use during tire flips.