I get that there are a lot of ways to train. I see people outside flipping tyres and people in the gym doing free weights. What’s the diff?

This question might be a little clearer and easier to interpret if we make it a bit more crystal: what is the differences between these activities with relation to some quality or other (i.e. physiological function, training outcomes, physical coefficients, etc.).

Let’s say that you’re looking for a practical answer which is short, sweet, useful and to the point (realising that much of the difference depends on the way in which you decide to do or use these tools).

Barbells, dumbbells and to a lesser extent kettlebells, are relatively symmetrical tools that will usually lend themselves more to isolation movements.

Whereas flipping tyres is a less isolating, more functional core activity. Now be careful of the word functional here. It’s bandied about as a catchall for all sorts of things, I am going to use it in the sense that a functional exercise is one that is more likely to reproduce some activity that you would normally perform outside the gym. A more realistic definition of a functional exercise might arguably be one that is best suited relative to the achievement of your objective(s) or goal(s). So, for example, for a kid who wants to sport some big guns, a preacher curl, done in a tight and controlled manner, with lots of time spent in lowering the weight eccentrically, would be functional.

Ok, so much for the buildup. Let’s break it all down to some bullet points:

A. Tyre Flip

  • Relatively high intensity asymmetric activity
  • Compound movement
  • Core Exercise
  • Functional
  • Less hypertrophic response
  • higher rate of calorie burn
  • Smaller degree of controllability
  • Higher risk of injury

B. Free Weight Lifting (incl. kettlebells)

  • Relatively lower intensity symmetric activity
  • More controllable isolation movement
  • More suitable for hypertrophic outcomes
  • Less chance of injury
  • More sustainable activity
  • Allows for a greater focus and perhaps mind/body connection conditioning opportunity.

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