If the strongest strength athlete of all time does the tire deadlift, then maybe we should too.

If the strongest strength athlete of all time does the tire deadlift, then maybe we should too.

So you saw Brian Shaw, Eddie Hall, Zydrunas Savickas, and a bunch of other Eastern European guys (whose names you can't pronounce) deadlifting 1,000+ pounds of hummer tires, and now you want to be a total bad-ass just like them.  Massenomics can help you on this divine quest of mimicking these giants that take shits larger than most of us. 

This is a step-by-step instructional article to teach you the simple process of fabricating your very own set of rims & tires for deadlifting with a standard Olympic barbell.  This is exactly what we did at Massenomics Gym, and you can see in the Instagram video later in this article that they work like a charm. This process is pretty easy for an average person, and we know from rigorous research and study that Massenomics readers are well above average.  So it should be a piece of cake....   mmmm, cake.  Also, I detail some of the applications for this new toy that you're about to make.

*Learn more about our non-typical gym in episode one of the Massenomics Podcast.

Our shirts and hats go great with strongman training. Click the picture!

Our shirts and hats go great with strongman training. Click the picture!

Supplies needed

  • Two rims - preferably 16"

  • Two tires that hold air

  • Two cheap 10 pound Olympic plates. Link from Walmart

  • Six 5/8 inch bolts 1.5"-2" in length, six nuts, six lock washers Link from Menards

  • Drill

  • 1/4" drill bit

  • 5/8" drill bit

  • Socket

  • Wrench

  • C Clamp or Vice Grip


Cost will be minimal for this project.  You will spend $25 or less for the hardware.  The rims and tires can be found cheap from a salvage yard, pawn shop, or your neighbors pickup when they are on vacation.  In our case we got the rims and tires for $30 from a salvage yard. 

The process

  1. Stand your tire up and hold the 10 pound weight plate on the inside of the rim, centering the weight hole with the main hole of the rim. IMPORTANT: Take time to get the plate as centered as possible. Hold it.

  2. Clamp the weight plate in place using either a heavy duty C clamp or a vice grip. Make sure it is very solid.

  3. Use a marker to mark three dots on the weight plate through the opposite side of the rim (through the lug holes already on the rim). Triangulate the holes so that they are equal distance apart. Our rims were six bolt pattern, so we used every other lug hole.

  4. Drill three 1/4" pilot holes in each plate where you marked with your marker in step three.

  5. Then drill the holes with the 5/8" bit. Now the plates will be ready to be mounted.

  6. Put in your bolts. Put one lock washer and nut on the back side of each. Tighten them down.

  7. Clink this link and buy a Massenomics hat so you can look cool lifting these.

Helpful details

Try to use 16" rims.  This puts the barbell at a good elevated height for most lifters.  It will be just below the knee on most.  14" rims may be a good option for a lower distance from the bar to the floor if that's what you're after.

Use cheap 10 pound plates.  One reason is the cost effectiveness for plates that you're going to drill through and make useless for other purposes.  But the main reason for using cheaper ones is that they are easier to drill through.  Your forearms will thank me. 

Make sure your tires will hold air.  They don't need to have great tread, but you don't want them going flat all the time. 

If you have access to one you could use a drill press to drill the 1/4" and 5/8" holes.

Why tire deadlift?

First and foremost, it undeniably looks pretty cool.  The deadlift as an exercise is about as animalistic that there is, and when you add the tires on the end of the bar it takes it to a whole other level of bad-assery.  There are also some practical reasons to utilize the tire deadlift in your training.  I will make a quick case for implementing this exercise in several types of strength training disciplines including powerlifting, strongman, bodybuilding, and CrossFit.  

  • Powerlifting: The raised bar positioning reduces the range of motion relative to a normal deadlift off the floor. For some lifters this is a stronger starting position. This allows for using maximal weights beyond 100% of your norm. This super-maximal training prepares you for bigger weights down the road in the traditional version of the lift. It gets a lifter more comfortable handling the weight, and it prepares the CNS. For other lifters, they can actually be weaker in this elevated starting position. These lifters build speed off the floor quickly, and are able to accelerate through their weaker positions. Tire deadlifts are beneficial for those powerlifters based on the concept of weak point training. The partial range of motion starts them in a position where they are weaker, and they are able to target that portion of the lift from a dead stop.

  • Strongman: This one is pretty obvious. The tire deadlift, or something very similar to it could be an actual event that you compete in. It could be tires, or several other things on the end of a bar, but the idea is the same. Keep in mind that strongman competitors are typically allowed to wear lifting straps, so it may be more beneficial to put those on in your training too.

  • Bodybuilding: Deadlifts have often been referred to as the king of all mass-builders. It's one of the best lifts that there is for building up the look of the posterior chain. Maybe your hamstrings, glutes, traps, lats, and back are all big enough already. If not, deadlifting should probably be in your routine. The tire deadlift is just a more interesting variation to throw in your workout to keep it exciting.

  • CrossFit: If someone told me there is any exercise that is much more functional than picking an object up off the floor, I would have a pretty hard time believing them. The tire deadlift could and should be executed at a high intensity level. It could be trained to time, as a part of an increasing ladder, or part of a circuit. You could see a direct correlation between improvement in tire deadlifting strength and general fitness levels, at least to a certain extent. I'm not personally an expert of CrossFit, but this lift seems to fit in very nicely with the definition of the sport.

With all that being said, I'm definitely not advocating permanently replacing traditional deadlifts with this exercise, but it undoubtedly can have a place in your routine.  This is just another tool in your growing arsenal.  Often times it could be used as an accessory to the traditional lift, or to replace it for short periods or training cycles.  Those familiar with conjugate training methods could view this as just another variation.  Some of you are probably wondering why you wouldn't just do rack pulls, or elevated box deadlifts instead, but I already answered that question earlier.... THIS LOOKS COOLER.

Now go pick up some tires and get stronger, bigger, and fitter.