Reading the past half-dozen or so MMM issues, I noticed there was a limited amount of writing on heavy tire training. I began to write an article called “THE BEST TIRE EXERCISES YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT USING”. Well, thanks to the excellent and timely article from Doug Fioranelli (article link) I found myself having to rewrite some of my original work and produce something a little more original. This updated article will include 10 different heavy tire exercise. Some involve other pieces of equipment to create powerful conditioning combinations that will hopefully open up more creativity when designing programs that utilize the heavy tire’s versatility.
Simply put, the heavy tire is badass piece of equipment. Flipping a tire, while your heart pounds through your shirt creates a training intensity that is not easily replicated anywhere else in the gym. Using the heavy tire provides a rare opportunity for trainers to take our game outside in the sun and do some old school work. When I say heavy, I mean we only have one tire at our SIngapore facility and it’s pretty damn heavy. Currently there are only four female athletes (2 of which are trainers) that have flipped it, it’s a monster. Obviously there are bigger tires available than this, but it’s rumored weight is200kg (440lbs) although that’s never been 100% verified.
We have a space at the back of our building which is approximately 8m wide and 200m long so some of the tire/sprint combinations we create are out of convenience to us and benefit of our training clients. According to Martin Rooney’s Hurricane training model, strongman and sprint combinations are Level 5 ‘top-of-the-food-chain’ conditioning drills, so we are lucky with our location, (tropical climate) and facilities in that respect.
The tire flip is undoubtedly the “king of tire exercises” but with the tire being so heavy and mostly out-of-bounds for the majority our training clientele (mobility/technique issues) being a little more creative in regards to exercise selection and programming is necessary. The following ten drills are a sample of the heavy tire exercises I include all my clients training sessions.
Tire Conditioning Drill #1: The Two Man Flip
Our female clients are badass strength athletes. We try to include as many unconventional training methods as we can in their training, including flipping the heavy tire. The two person flip is used during semi-private group sessions at our facility as a way to get every single client involved in tire flipping. Refer to Doug Fioranelli’s “Flipping and Beyond ” article for a detailed explanation, describing the safety and mechanics of the flip.
My favored prescription for flips is total number. E.g I would set a challenge (based on fitness levels) of 50 flips in 5 minutes
Tire Conditioning Drill #2: Steeplechase / Hurdle Jump With Shuttle Sprint
Currently we have numerous clients and trainers (myself included) preparing for endurance events such as Tough Mudder, Commando Challenge, and Mens Health Urbanathlon just to name a few. These events are a great way for fitness professionals to include unconventional strength methods alongside traditional MetCon style cardiovascular work in their programming.
Use the heavy tire as a stationary piece of equipment or simply an obstacle in runs, shuttles or straight sprints to mimic some of the challenges consistently appearing in these endurances races. The height of the jump can also be bolstered by plyo boxes creating a greater challenge (shown in picture) to increase the difficulty of each drill.
This kind of drill is best used for extended timed sets (1-3 minutes) and also incorporating a run/drill as part of the drill
Tire Conditioning Drill #3: “In The Hole” Hip Drops
One of the most forgotten features of the tire, yet most blatantly obvious, is the massive hole in the middle of each one! This provides an opportunity for extra depth and difficulty by creating an unusual and unconventional range of motion for some exercises. This exercise is a favorite I picked up and modified from Mauricio Tangari (FXT San Diego) during a Bulgarian bag certification course. The original exercise is a challenging hip drop to touch the bag while on the floor; challenging shoulder stability, core strength and flexibility simultaneously. My modification for the heavy tire provides the same physical challenge, allowing you to drop your hips alternately ‘in-the-hole’ creating more range of motion and difficulty. This exercise is an awesome upper body/core drill that is ideal for MMA training (particularly BJJ) for developing unusual strength patterns needed for advanced groundwork.
Perform this exercise alternating right and left sides in sets of 10/side and above or 30s and above. Best combined with a lower body drill.
Tire Conditioning #4. “In The Hole”Double Kettlebell Sumo Squat
Next in my ‘In-the-hole’ series, is a traditional Sumo Squat using double Kettlebells. This is a great way to teach proper depth of a squat, and will help transfer deep squatting technique to other squat variations.
You can add difficulty and more core emphasis by performing a single KB suitcase squat and moving foot position to one side
For strength sets perform 3-6 reps
For conditioning perform for 30-60 seconds using a lighter KB
Tire Conditioning #5. “In The Hole” Kettlebell Single Arm Row
Similarly to the sumo squat, ‘In-the-hole’ single arm row takes a traditional strength exercise and by expanding the range of motion, it increases difficulty. This is an excellent training exercise for emergency rescue service workers. I’m certainly no expert on the physical demands required by these professionals but developing grip, as well as row strength in an extended range seems like a tremendous additional skill set for a professional lifesaver to acquire.
For strength sets perform 3-6 reps
For endurance perform for 15+ reps each side
Tire Conditioning #6. Prone Plyometric Bodyshock
I couldn’t find anything, while I was researching the origins of this next psychopathic exercise. I am almost 100% sure it’s from a video clip on Youtube of Finnish trainers (again through a Martin Rooney link) performing and describing this as the hardest 30 second warm up in the world!
In a prone position, place all four limbs across the tire so your torso is directly facing down above the hole. Simultaneously raise all four limbs (2 hands, 2 feet) off the tire about 6-12 inches and repeat as fast as possible for timed sets. You can go as high as you like but 6-12 inches is about the ideal height to use enough power and return quickly to get around 1.5/2 hits per second!
Perform sets of 30-60s as part of a superset or as part of a circuit
Tire Conditioning #7. Feet Elevated Hybrid (Spiderman Push Up / Step Off / Tip Toe Step Up)
The spiderman push up, step off, tire step up is a hybrid shoulder and core stability combination, which is best used as a break from the lower body work demanded by heavy tire exercises.
Ensure that the hips don’t dip throughout the whole combination and be sure to clear the floor area (sharp objects can be found outside) where your hands will be placed.
Tire Conditioning #8. Gravedigger/Steel Mace Slam Superset
The next hybrid works in some rotational power, multi-planar movement and conditioning, by combining the gravedigger and steel mace slams.
There are many articles you should refer to, on proper Steel Mace technique. A great way to add this hybrid into a session would be as a break from heavy lower body sets and in ascending ladders, e.g:
A1: 2 x GD/SM right
A2: 2 x GD/SM left
A3: 4 x GD/SM right
A4: 4 x GD/SM left
A5: 6 x GD/SM right
A6: 6x GD/SM left
Tire Conditioning #9. Plyo Jump / Rope Slam Hybrid
The first of the two grand finale conditioning finishers, combining the battling ropes and the tire is the jump/double-handed slam
Slam the tire 3 times as quickly as possible for each jump executed. Perform a set of 30-60 seconds depending on fitness level and/or heart rate zone target.
Tire Conditioning #10. High Step Up/Alternating Rope Waves
The second drill is similar to the first but demands more co-ordination and rhythm. This drill builds heart rate up quickly and is a great finisher by itself or even better when super-setted with drill number 9, on a 30/30/30/30 2 minute blaster!
Incorporating The Heavy Tire Conditioning Into A Training Plan
Great facilities are built to create great programs not sessions, all the above exercises in this article come with my conditioning hat firmly on and could be placed in any conditioning section of a training program.
I believe all conditioning work should be done with ‘clear knowledge of heart rate at all times’ – otherwise you’re guessing what you’re achieving for that particular training session and are more likely to overtrain or feel fatigued more often. With that said my usual interval HR targets for clients ranges from 65% start to 90-95% finish. This ensures an average of 70-75% for any given period of time. The more experienced the athlete, the higher the HR% could be handled but be wary of the increased recovery demands of the 90% (or red line) sessions and how they affect you and other athletes.
The following tire workouts are some of my own personal favorites I use with my clients at UFIT and in my training as well. They are short in duration, intense and utilize the outdoor space, heavy tire and half of my other unconventional tools.
Tire Conditioning Workout 1: Flip N’ Sprint Ascending/Descending Ladder
Approx time: 20 minutes+
Rest for 60 seconds or until heart rate returns to 65-70%HRM between sets
A1: 10 flips – 10m sprint
A2: 9 flips – 20m sprint
A3: 8 flips – 30m sprint
A4: 7 flips – 40 m sprint
A5: 6 flips – 50 m sprint
A6: 5 flips – 60 m sprint
A7: 4 flips – 70 m sprint
A8: 3 flips – 80 m sprint
A9: 2 flips – 90 m sprint
A10: 1 flip – 100m sprint and finish
Flips and sprints are one of the most intense metabolic conditioning combinations you can use. All you need is a heavy tire, a straight line space (minimum 20m for shuttles; ideally 100m) and some courage! Mark out 10m or 20m on the ground and you can substitute shuttle sprints for the same distances if you do not have 100m.
Tire Conditioning Workout 2: Tire, Hammer, Row & Run
Approx time: 25 minutes+
2 rounds of (best time):
A1: 20 Tire push ups
A2: 15/s Steel Mace ‘wood choppers’
A3: 1km row
A4: 20 Tire push ups
A5: 15/s Steel Mace ‘wood choppers’
A6: 1000m run
This workout uses the heavy tire in a stationary position with 2 upper body exercises, while testing cardiovascular endurance through challenging middle distance running and rowing sprints. I believe the Concept 2 rowing machine is the best piece of conditioning equipment available so it always has a place in my programming. It is an awesome addition to any MetCon session or circuit. The Row/Running sprint combination is among the best pure cardiovascular combination out there and I regularly include it in my conditioning work.
Tire Conditioning Workout 3: “Monkey” WOD
Approx time: 13 minutes+
A1: 33 x Push ups
A2: 33 x KB (32kg male, 24kg female)
A3: 33 x Burpees (chest to floor, jump with hands over head)
A4: 33 x Heavy tire flips (scale tyre size for female or lighter males)
A5: 33 x Tire jumps
A6: 33 x Pull ups
A7: 330m row to finish (or 400m run if no rower available)
Meet our signature Workout Of the Day, “Monkey”. Aptly named after a dog and created for my own 33rd birthday, which I clearly wasn’t happy about it! The heavy tire is only used for two of seven exercises, but it’s enough in this beast of a challenge which demands technique, power, strength and maximal endurance! Good “Monkey” completion times will usually start around 13 minutes. I’m a believer in form over time so getting through “Monkey” in one piece is the first challenge, chalking up a good time is just a nice bonus.