When did we start flipping Big Honkin’ tires as fitness?
Now a popular CrossFit activity, it was actually the chief referee of the World’s Strongest Man competition who reinvented this wheel.
“Hey Ian! Paul bought us a tractor tire!
I was thrilled to hear that from Ron, my best friend and longtime roommate. After being fired up by the CrossFit event broadcasts on ESPN 2 and wanting to capitalize on the huge garden in our house, I specifically asked Ron if he knew anyone who could find us a flipworthy tire.
For the life of me, I couldn’t tell you why I was so glad to have access to this tire. It’s not like I don’t have a gym membership or a house full of exercise gadgets like several pull-up bars, a dip rack, two sets of Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells, and a machine. Industrial-grade elliptical that conveniently overlooked a 54-inch TV in the living room. There was just something particularly appealing about the option of redirecting the built-up frustrations of a brutal day’s work into handling a huge piece of rubber by flipping it around a grassy lawn – then hitting it with a hammer.
Everything you just said, of course, is totally nonsense. Speaking of madness, where did the idea of training while flipping tires come from?
The creation of the tire flip as a sporting event and training event is credited to Scotsman Douglas Edmunds, an absolute legend in competitive strongman circles. He was the founder of the International Federation of Strength Athletes, and took advantage of his position as chief referee of the “World’s Strongest Man” competition to innovate exercises like the Capture of Hercules, Fingal’s Fingers, Keg throw, Atlas stones, Conan’s Circle and Motorized stairs and turn them into strongman events.
As for when the tire flip made its debut on the world stage, the most prominent first display of the event I could find – with Edmunds standing front and center to watch the competitors’ responses to the physical effort involved – took place during the World’s Strongest 1995. Men’s Qualifying Heats in Nassau, Bahamas. Facing elimination from the contest, Bill Pittock, Heinz Ollesch, Colin Cox and Gerrit Badenhorst were all called upon to flip a 500-pound tire over 15 yards of sand.
Since Edmunds sadly passed away in 2020, we don’t know precisely what was going through his mind at the time of tire flipping invention. I am tempted to assume that the innovation was due to my mother’s birthplace, New Providence, an island in the Bahamas only 21 miles long and 11 miles wide that lacked many of the tools that had become common in events strongmen over the previous decade. However, one thing that New Providence would certainly have had in abundance in the mid-1990s was tractor tires. (It should also be noted that the tires had been incorporated into World’s Strongest Man competitions and similar events in previous years, including tire thrower at the very first of these contests, and the tire drags a bit later.)
Anyway, the tire flip event returned for the World’s Strongest Man competition in Port Louis, Mauritius the following year, where it was again contested on sand, but this time the flip distance was extended to an excruciating 20 meters. Likewise, it was featured in the 1997 contest at the Primm Valley Resort in Nevada, where the endless expanse of desert sand made the event simple to organize.
So what happened from there?
As strongman events grew in popularity through cable television, many local contests began to replicate tire flipping, often with heavier tires than those used in actual toughest man contests. strong in the world. At an event covered by The News Messenger of Fremont, Ohio in August 2000, 27-year-old Travis Braden won the heavyweight division of the McPherson Strongman competition primarily because he was one of the few competitors who could flip an 850-pound tire just once.
But as tire rolling trickled down to athletes who focused less on building pure strength and more on total body muscular endurance, tire weight returned to deadly levels in a push towards accessibility. Along these lines, in the mid-2000s, tire flipping was a frequent part of lineman challenges in high school football programs and military conditioning programs.
In some cases, tire flipping was even the centerpiece of community bonding initiatives. In 2013, Austin American Statesman covered the overturning of a 200-pound tire as the main attraction of a fundraiser for a football and volleyball scholarship. Each tire flip by a local athlete through a one-mile loop around the park increased the overall dollar amount administered by the scholarship.
Then, of course, there’s the aforementioned CrossFit, which can probably be given more credit than anything else for taking outdoor manual labor activities and bringing them into the mainstream. This is where you can move a tire away from a wall and go back the maximum number of times you can collect. After that – i.e. when you can’t lift it an inch – you can pull out a hammer and hammer into oblivion as if you were driving railroad spikes.
What is the training value of tire rollover?
Believe it or not, a tire flip is one of the most practical training methods for athletes who need to administer force and move heavy objects that are slightly unpredictable once in motion (d where their involvement in soccer lineman drills). Tire flipping can also be used for ballistic training if the athlete’s muscles are able to accelerate for the duration of the flip.
So while it might not be for everyone, for those athletes at least, it’s definitely where the tire-rolling rubber meets the road – or as Edmunds originally intended, the sand. .