So after watching your internet man crush going all alpha male with one on Instagram, you finally decided that you, too, need to get your hands on a cumbersome, space-hogging, 450-pound tractor tire. And after scouring the interwebs for a reasonable deal, clearing out the requisite space on the side of the house and convincing your family that it’s worth the hassle, you throw on your best workout gear and … now what?
Uh, I guess I’ll flip it and stuff.
Yeah, that’s the response most tire-wielding fitness buffs have initially. But the tire is a more versatile strength-and-conditioning tool than it is given credit for. Unlike barbell-driven moves like deadlifts, rows and overhead presses, which require you to generate force in a strictly vertical plane, the flipping of a tire requires you to produce force upward and forward, helping you propel the tire horizontally over a set distance or for a certain number of repetitions.
But don’t become so focused on the flip that you miss out on the other uses of the tire. Unlike the more delicate machinations of adjustable dumbbells or selectorized equipment, the tire is built for abuse. Among other frenetic activities, the tire is suited for flipping, beating and jumping on.
Sledgehammer swings are a great stress reliever that also happen to thrash your entire core musculature, shoulders, lats and forearms. With a heavier sledge (20 pounds) and fewer reps, it becomes a power-and-strength-focused exercise. With a lighter sledge (10 pounds) and more reps, you have a near-perfect, full-body cardio activity. No sledge? No problem. Try simulating the motion with two hands using a medicine ball or a sandbag.
Plyometric jumps hold obvious benefits, including power development, greater athleticism and increased fast-twitch muscle recruitment for other lower-body-focused movements, including the barbell squat. The size of your tire will dictate the best prescription for your plyos — a bigger tire will merit fewer jumps at max intensity, while a smaller tire is better suited for higher-repetition jumps for speed.
Those who actually manage to secure the money, space and nerve to get themselves a tire often find themselves floundering to find the right kind of programming to keep the gains coming. Use this mini-menu of beginner tire programs to continue challenging your body and charging your metabolic engine day after day.
There’s no single best shopping method when it comes to tires of unseemly proportions. Here are a few savvy tactics for getting your hands on one.
1. Junk/Salvage Yards: Though we’ve never seen it done, legend has it that you can drop in at your local junk or salvage yard and simply ask whether they’re willing to part with any. Some of these establishments may be willing to let you have a tire — free of charge, or for a minimal fee — if you have the means of transporting it off the lot.
2. Local Online Ads: Think Craigslist or Facebook community pages. You’re not getting a tire direct from the Decepticon assembly line — you’re getting one second hand. A little internet sleuthing at these types of sites will usually help steer you toward someone who is getting rid of his or her flipping tire, gyms that are going out of business or other sources of cheap tires.
3. Online Vendors: Some gyms go out and buy their tires in bulk for the expressed purpose of selling the overstock. If you’re turning up zeroes on private vendors, one of these commercial sellers may be your last, best route.
In any scenario besides “Look what I found in the giveaway pile at the local Salvation Army,” you can expect to pay $20 on the low end and up to $500 for a larger tire from a commercial vendor.