Tire Flip – CrossFit Exercise Guide with Photos and Instructions


Muscles Targeted: The tire flip is a popular exercise commonly used in CrossFit WODs (workout of the day). This is a tremendous exercise for working several muscle groups at once. The primary muscles targeted are the quadriceps located at the front of the thighs and the gluteus maximus (butt muscles). While the quadriceps and glutes are working hard to heave the tire up from the ground, several other leg muscles, including the calves and hamstrings, contribute to the overall lifting of the tire. As if that weren’t enough, your core (abdominals, obliques, lower back), chest, and back muscles are all engaged when you get the tire up on its side. Finally, your shoulders, triceps, and forearms get in on the act by helping to push the tire over on its opposite side. The involvement of so many muscle groups makes the tire flip a very effective total body exercise that helps to build muscle, gain strength and create explosive power.

Exercise Instructions: With the tire flat on the ground, stand with your hands and feet shoulder width apart. Place both hands under the tire, reaching your fingers underneath the tire. Squat down by bending at the knees while keeping your hands in their initial position under the tire. As you stand back up, lift up the tire until it is almost on its side. Once the tire is most of the way up, change your hand position so that your palms are facing down toward the tire and grab the tire on its sidewall. If needed, place one knee against the tire to push it completely on its side. Then, in one continuous motion, push the tire down to the ground with your hands to complete the flip.

Things To Avoid: When squatting down to lift the tire, avoid bending at the hips as this can place tremendous pressure on your back (bend at your knees and get into a squat position). As with other exercises involving heavy weights, make sure you avoid rounding of the back, which occurs when you hunch your back too far forward. To prevent this keep your back muscles tight when performing the tire flip, especially when you are squatting down to initially lift the tire and then standing back up while lifting the tire onto its side. Avoid placing undue strain on your biceps muscles by keeping your chest and shoulders close to the tire when you are lifting it up from the squat position.

Reps and Sets: The idea with the tire flip is to push your body to the maximum while working several different muscle groups. With this in mind, your goal should be to challenge yourself with a heavy tire. But as with any exercise, you need to build up your strength gradually. Start out with a tire that is challenging yet manageable. A goal for beginners is to aim for 2 sets of 5 reps. If you feel that after 3 reps you are pushing yourself far enough, then by all means start with 3 reps and gradually work up to 5 reps. Given the kind of weight involved in the tire flip, which is a heavy one, you should aim for a low number of reps and then increase the volume from there. Once you feel comfortable with 2 sets of 5 reps each, you could try using a heavier tire, and instead of using repetitions, use a specified length like 30-50 feet to complete a full set.

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