If there was an award in fitness for the most undertrained muscle, the tibialis anterior would have a good chance of winning.
The tibialis anterior runs along the lateral side of the tibia bone on the shin. Unlike other lower body muscles, like the glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves, very few people actively train the tibialis anterior… even though it plays a vital role in knee stability, stopping power, speed and supporting better ankle mobility.
Ultimately, a stronger tib muscle is incredibly useful for improving athletic performance and making everyday activities easier.
It also helps to reduce the risk of developing knee and ankle injuries, as well as shin splints.
The best exercise to train the tibialis anterior is the tib raise.
In this exercise guide, we outline how to do tib raises and the different variations you can try. We also discuss the new innovative product that has completely changed the way you can add resistance to the movement.
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What is a Tib Raise?
The tib raise is an exercise designed to strengthen the tibialis anterior muscle, which runs along the shin. A tib raise involves dorsiflexion of foot (hinging at the ankle to move the foot towards the shin).
This can be performed as a standing bodyweight exercise, or with the use of specialist equipment (such as a Tib Bar) to add resistance.
Strengthening the tibialis anterior
The aim of tib raises is to strengthen the tibialis anterior. If you are currently experiencing pain in this area, such as shin splints, we’d recommend consulting a Physical Therapist first, before starting any strengthening program.
How to Perform Tib Raises
Standing bodyweight tib raises are great for beginners.
To perform the bodyweight tib raise:
- Stand against a wall or flat surface with your feet together.
- The distance your feet are placed from the wall will dictate the difficulty, so start close and over time try and increase this distance very gradually.
- Maintain a straight back and straight legs throughout.
- Lift your toes off the ground, towards your knees, keeping your heels on the ground at all times.
- Slowly lower your toes back to the ground.
- Repeat for repetitions.
Coach’s Tip – Although the aim of this exercise is to build muscle, we would recommend approaching it like you would a stretching exercise. It’s better to go for a slow, controlled tempo as opposed to including it in a HIIT workout, for example.
Resistance Band Tib Raise Version (Curl)
Resistance or therapy band tib raises are often used in Physical Therapy to help rehabilitate a knee or ankle injury. The resistance means the tib muscle has to work harder than with the bodyweight version and it also allows for greater range of motion at the ankle.
To do resistance band tib raises:
- Sit on a bench or the floor, with a straight back and legs extended straight in front of you.
- Wrap a resistance band around the toes of your right foot.
- Attach the band to a stable surface and lift your toes towards your knee, hinging at the ankle.
- Slowly lower your toes back down and repeat.
- Repeat with the left foot.
Coach’s Tip – You may need to experiment with different levels of resistance until you find that sweet spot. This is one of the reasons why it is harder to measure progress compared to using weighted plates with a Tib Bar, which allows for very precise loading.
Weighted Tib Bar Version (Curl)
Weighted Tib Bar raises are the most challenging but the most effective at building muscle in the tibialis anterior. You can add more load and enjoy full range of motion, helping to really activate the tib muscle throughout.
To do weighted Tib Bar raises:
- Sit on a bench with a straight back and legs extended straight in front of you.
- Make sure your upper legs and knees are supported by the bench and that your lower calf and ankles are extended beyond the bench (so the ankle can move freely).
- Put your feet in a Tib Bar with the desired weight.
- Lift your toes towards your knees, hinging at the ankles before slowly lowering your toes back down (dorsiflexion and plantar flexion movements).
- Repeat for repetitions.
Coach’s Tip – When using a Tib Bar, start by just adding very light weights to begin with and slowly increase this. You can also train your legs individually if you prefer by using an Isotib Bar.
Best Tib Bars for Home Use
Check out our guide on the best Tib Bars for home workouts. We’ve filtered through the noise and created a simple buyer’s guide so you can find the best bar for your needs.
Tib Raises Muscles Worked
Tib raises primarily work the tibialis anterior muscle, located on the shin. This muscle is often ignored in workouts as it is harder to directly activate with lots of traditional lower body exercises.
All variations of tib raises work the same muscles, but weighted tib raises, such as with a Tib Bar, allow you to add more resistance to the movement and leverage training techniques such as progressive overload training to build muscle more effectively.
Bodyweight Vs Weighted Tib Raises
The bodyweight and weighted variations of the tib raise are both effective ways to strengthen the tibialis anterior.
If you’re just getting started, the standing bodyweight version is perhaps a good starting point. You can slowly ease into things and test your existing tib strength by slowly raising your toes. If you are having difficulty doing this, you may need to address any potential limiting factors, such as injuries or ankle mobility, before attempted weight tib raises.
Once you feel more confident and you can do 10+ repetitions of bodyweight tib raises with ease, then weighted repetitions can really upgrade your tibialis strength training.
Weighted variations will allow you to build muscle more effectively.
Resistance bands can achieve this but using a Tib Bar allows you to progressively overload the muscles, which is how most of us would approach strength training for other muscles in our body.
Our Preferred Variation is the Weighted Tib Raise
Although the Tib Bar is a relatively new product, it’s become a staple in our fitness routine. The ability to add load to tib raises so easily is why we think the Tib Bar is one of the best fitness products to buy.
Benefits of Tib Raises
Ultimately, tib raises help to strengthen the tibialis anterior, which brings with it a whole host of benefits. We recently published a whole guide outlining the benefits tib bar raises and the impact having a stronger tib muscle will have in daily life.
These include things like; better stopping power, improved knee stability, better balance, better ankle mobility and reducing the risk of developing shin splints.
From professional athletes to those just wanting to enjoy an evening walk without shin splints, tib raises can offer significant benefits.
Who would benefit from tib raises?
There are very few people who wouldn’t benefit from tib raises. The ability to strengthen the tibialis anterior and consequently reduce the load on the knees, shin and ankles, mean it can help reduce the risk of injury and pain for everyone. People who do lots of walking, running, jumping, or who are overweight, would likely really benefit from stronger tib muscles.
Things to Consider
As previously mentioned, if you currently have pain or discomfort in the shins, knees or ankles, we would recommend getting a Physical Therapist to provide a consultation before you start any tib raises. This is to ensure there is no serious damage to the muscles or tendons that tib raises could make worse.
You should never experience pain during tib raises, so if this happens stop immediately.
Depending on your goals, you may just want to do 3 sets of 10 repetitions each week of tib raises to help with strengthening, or if you want to follow a training program like ATG Knees Over Toes, then you’ll probably repeat this more during the week.
The tib raise is a great way to strengthen the tibialis anterior… something which helps to combat knee pain and shin splints, as well as improving athletic abilities such as stopping power, agility, lateral movements and virtual jumps.
There are 3 variations of tib raises. We tend to prefer the weighted Tib Bar raises as they allow you to add load to the exercise safely and maintain full range of motion.