You may have first seen tire training while watching a strongman competition on TV. But Incredible Hulk body doubles are not the only ones to embrace tire training. Super Bowl champ Drew Brees and MLB star Skip Schumaker both incorporate tire exercises into their metabolic circuits to develop core strength and power throughout the entire body.
Another point worth mentioning is that these exercises are fun. Who doesn’t like beating the snot out of an inanimate object during a workout? Tire exercises are also great stress relievers. You’ve probably heard of psychologists urging people to take their anger out on a pillow. The same logic applies here, except you get to take it out on a massive tire!
The Sledgehammer and Tire Flip are the two main tire exercises. We break both of them down and tell how they benefit athletes. We also provide med ball exercises that can be used in case you don’t have a 400-pound tire lying around the garage.
Let’s kick things off by comparing the athletic enhancements of the Sledgehammer and its med ball replacement, Push and Carry Throws.
Vanderbilt’s strength and conditioning coach John Sisk says the Sledgehammer improves hand, forearm and grip strength, noting that power is generated from the ground up. He adds, “[The] rotation exemplifies basically a medicine ball throw.” Best of all, it's an effective exercise for all sports.
What does that tell you as an athlete? Don’t give up on an extremely beneficial exercise just because you don’t live next to a tire yard. Try using a med ball.
Check out this med ball exercise performed by Tampa Bay slugger Tim Beckham.
Push and Carry Throws
Although our exemplary athlete is a baseball player, this exercise can benefit athletes in any sport. Basketball players need rotational strength to clear defenders after grabbing a rebound. Football players need the ability to quickly and powerfully rotate at any given moment. Although this exercise is slightly different from the Sledgehammer, it still improves forearm and rotational strength while developing power throughout the entire core.
Next, we examine the Tire Flip and its med ball counterpart, the Med Ball Clean and Press.
This exercise challenges the entire body; it activates the lower body during the Squat and transitions power through the core to the upper body as the tire is flipped. "We have to lift, pull, drive, [and] extend elbows," says Dave Morgan, president of Enhanced Fitness and Performance. "You gotta get into a full Squat position, [put your] chest into the tire, arms underneath, and drive through with your hips all the way through the tire."
Morgan suggests using a light tire and more repetitions to simulate a game day scenario. Assuming you have no tire to flip [do not remove one from a car!], take the med ball option. Med balls are easy to find in either a local gym or sports equipment store. With that in mind, take a look at Drew Brees’ Med Ball Clean and Press.
Med Ball Clean and Press
Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10, likes the med ball, because “you’re squeezing the ball, and when you’re squeezing the ball, there’s core activation. There’s also grip strength involved.” Athletes using this exercise also benefit from the “speed of action” required to transfer power from the lower body to explosively press the ball into the air. The Med Ball Clean and Press is an ideal substitute for the Tire Flip. It gives you the same power transfer ability while also hitting your shoulder muscles through the Press.