Tibialis Exercises and Equipment to Bulletproof Your Lower Body

Strengthening Tibialis Exercises and Equipment

It’s unlikely you’ll find a pair of tibialis muscles gracing the cover of your favorite fitness magazine. But for many athletes, strengthening the tibialis is the key to unlocking superior protection of your lower body and untapped athletic potential from an often forgotten muscle group.

In this article, we’re going to go through why this little-talked-about muscle has the potential to improve your athletic performance and, more importantly, bulletproof your lower body to help keep you injury-free. And give you the exercises and tools you’ll need to put tibialis training back into your workout schedule.

What is the Tibialis Muscle

Tibialis Anterior Muscle Diagram

The tibialis anterior runs down the outside of the lower leg below the knee. It starts at the upper part of the tibia (the lateral condyle) and ends connecting to the long bones in your foot that connect your ankle to your toes (the metatarsal) and the three bones on the medial side of your foot called the cuneiform.

The tibialis is crucial for essential movements and power generation involving the foot. Working in tandem with the EHL and EDL muscles, it is the primary muscle involved in the dorsiflexion of the foot. Additionally, it is responsible for inversion of the foot, moving it side to side, maintaining your arches, keeping your gait aligned with knee flexion, and decelerating your foot after it extends.

All of these functions combined create the foundation of nearly every fundamental athletic movement requiring the lower body, balance, and protection for the joints and bones in your legs and feet. Let’s cover each of those categories in more detail to show you how strengthening your tibialis will translate into real-world results.

The Benefits of a Strong Tibialis:

Athletic Performance

Any time you accelerate, decelerate, or change directions, your body relies on the stable motion of your feet in all directions to generate power and prevent catastrophic injuries.

Strengthening the tibialis helps put your feet in the correct positions, improves their capability, and serves as the foundation for initiating movements in the lower body chain. 

Whether you’re sprinting, jumping, squatting, or stopping, everything begins and ends with the feet. For example, dorsiflexion of the foot can be the limiting factor on your ability to accelerate and run faster. Meaning a weak tibialis anterior can be the unknown muscle keeping you from pushing through plateaus in your speed benchmarks. And for sports requiring agility, it could be what’s holding you back from lightning-fast changes in direction to outmaneuver your opponent.


Stability in foot motion creates the initial framework for your body’s ability to balance.

To paint a picture of how crucial the tibialis is for balance, you can conduct a simple test for yourself. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, place your left hand on your left tibialis muscle. Now, lift your right leg off the ground to force yourself to balance on one foot. Notice how the tibialis immediately engages, and you can feel all of the intricate fluctuations in its contractions as your foot makes the micro-adjustments to keep you balanced.

Every time you land on the court after a high leap for a rebound, every step you take out on a trail run, and every squat you do in the gym all rely on the strength and balance originating from to motion of your feet.

Strengthening your tibialis gives you more control and stability to improve your ability to balance. And once you start devoting serious time into balance training, you’ll notice immediately how profound the improvements can be to nearly every other aspect of your athletic performance.

Injury Prevention

The tibialis is the first line of defense for preventing injury in your feet, ankles, shins, and knees.

The tibialis’ role in deceleration is a significant factor in how it protects your body from injury. The most powerful impact shock you experience occurs during deceleration. While there are some obvious examples, like coming to a stop after a sprint effort, you also decelerate when you transfer forward energy to vertical energy (like every time you jump and every step when you run).

These moments of deceleration create opportunities for injuries to occur. One missed step, one overextension, or one twist in the wrong direction can mean severe knee, ankle, or bone fracture injuries. The first muscle that keeps your body in a protected position during these moments is the tibialis.

The stronger your tibialis is, the more control you will have from your feet through your lower-body biomechanics to properly execute each movement without compromising points of injury.

The tibialis also offers protection from overuse injuries like patellar tendonitis (lower knee pain) and shin splints. Every time you run or jump, your body experiences impact shock. Over time, this can develop micro-fractures in bone and creeping pains in your joints.

One of the best defenses against overuse injuries is to reduce the amount of impact shock you experience while participating in your sport of choice. A strong tibialis helps absorb shock by improving how well your body slows down every time it makes ground contact.

If you placed a weak spring under a heavy book and dropped it from your desk, the weak spring would quickly collapse under the pressure of gravity, leaving the book to absorb most of the shock. But if you replaced the weak spring with a stronger one, the spring would absorb more of the impact – leaving left shock left to travel through and be experienced by the book.

Your tibialis works in a similar way, and even if you can reduce your impact shock by 20%, over an extended period of time, your body experiences significantly less impact, dramatically reducing your risk of overuse injury. 

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Exercises to Strengthen the Tibialis:

Bodyweight Wall Toe Raises

Wall Tibialis Raises are an excellent place to start when beginning to strengthen the tibialis anterior muscle. This exercise will allow you to get a feel for solid muscle activation and set a benchmark for current strength levels.

Additionally, you can progressively increase the difficulty of the exercise by moving your feet further away from your body.

How to Perform Bodyweight Wall Tibialis Raises:

  1. Stand facing away from the wall with your feet about hip-width apart.
  2. The distance your feet are away from the wall will dictate the difficulty of the exercise. For beginners, start approximately 1ft away from the wall.
  3. Lean back so that your butt is the contact point on the wall. Your back will be angled slightly forward so that it’s not touching the wall’s surface throughout the exercise.
  4. Keeping your knees straight, use the tibialis muscles to pull your toes up towards your shin as far as you can.
  5. Lower your toes back to the flat position in a slow and controlled motion. Focus on maintaining activation throughout the eccentric phase of the exercise.
  6. Aim to complete as many reps as possible while maintaining proper form and contraction. 
  7. If you exceed 25 reps, begin to move your feet further away from the wall to increase the difficulty.
  8. Repeat for 3 sets.

Tibialis Bar

The Tibialis Bar (Tib Bar) is a fantastic tool for strengthening your tibialis anterior muscle. It gives you a stable structure to perform resisted dorsiflexion exercises and allows for progressive overload by stacking on more weight over time.

One of the best features of the Tib Bar is its simple, lightweight, and portable design. You can easily bring it with you from home to the gym and even while traveling to stay consistent with your tibialis development.

How to Perform Tib Bar Exercise:

  1. Find an elevated surface like a flat bench, plyo-box, or ledge.
  2. Load the desired weight onto the Tib Bar.
  3. Seated on the edge of the elevated surface, secure your feet between the two bars of the Tib Bar. (Toes behind the top bar, heels on front of the bottom bar)
  4. Slide back to be seated firmly on the surface while your feet slightly overhang off the edge.
  5. Contract your tibialis muscle to pull your toes towards your shins as far as you can.
  6. Lower your toes back into the downward start position while maintaining control and muscle activation during the eccentric phase of the movement.
  7. Complete 15-25 reps for 3 sets.

Anterior Tib Machine Raises

The Anterior Tib Machine is specifically designed to target the tibialis. 

Unlike your traditional calf raise machine (which uses the plantar flexion movement extending the foot at the ankle), the Tib Machine inverts the movement and places resistance at the top of the foot for plate weighted dorsiflexion of the ankle. 

The Tib Machine really locks your feet into position so you can focus on activating the tibialis throughout the entire motion of the exercise. So if you struggle to isolate or properly engage your tibialis with other forms of resisted dorsiflexion exercises, the Tib Machine may be precisely what you need to build those solid mind-muscle connections. Additionally, it will allow you to ramp up the weight over time for continual progressive overload.

How to Perform Tibialis Raises With the Tib Machine:

  1. Find an elevated surface like a flat bench, plyo-box, or stool.
  2. Place the Tib Machine at a comfortable distance away from the surface so your legs so the angle is slightly larger than 90deg.
  3. Place both feet under the padded lever with your heels on the flat pedal.
  4. Contract your tibialis muscle to pull your toes towards your shins as far as you can.
  5. Lower your toes back into the downward start position while maintaining control and muscle activation during the eccentric phase of the movement.
  6. Complete 15-25 reps for 3 sets.

Exercise Band Dorsiflexion

If you want a simple solution for a tibialis workout (or you already have some exercise bands lying around), you can use exercise bands in various ways for resisted dorsiflexion exercises. 

How to Perform Resistance Band Tibialis Exercise:

  1. Secure the resistance band to a firm structure at about your foot’s distance from the ground.
  2. In a seated position on the floor, place the resistance band over the top of your foot. Make sure you are at a distance where the band begins to pull your foot forwards.
  3. Contract your tibialis muscle to pull your toes towards your shins as far as you can.
  4. Lower your toes back into the downward start position while maintaining control and muscle activation during the eccentric phase of the movement.
  5. Complete 15-25 reps for 3 sets.

Best Tibialis Stretches:

Kneeling Anterior Tibialis Stretch

  1. Start in a kneeling position on the floor or exercise mat.
  2. Extend your feet so that your toes face backward and the top of your foot is making contact with the ground.
  3. Slowly lower your body down towards your heels until you feel your tibialis along the shins and top of the foot begin to stretch.
  4. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  5. Repeat 2-3 times.

Toe Drag Stretch

  1. Begin in a standing or seated position.
  2. With your right foot planted firmly on the floor, extend your left leg backward and rest the top of your toes on the ground behind you.
  3. While keeping your rear foot pointed backward, drag your foot forward. Apply downward pressure as necessary to feel a stretch in your tibialis. 
  4. Repeat 2-3 times.

Lying Tibialis Stretch (Quadriceps)

  1. Similar to a lying quadriceps stretch, lie down on one side on the floor or exercise mat.
  2. Bend one knee backward and grasp the top of your forefoot behind your body.
  3. Pull your forefoot back towards the back of your body (plantar flexing the foot)
  4. Focus more on activating a stretch in the tibialis rather than pulling the whole leg backward to stretch the quadriceps.
  5. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  6. Repeat 2-3 times.

Stretching Your Calves For Improved Tibialis Anterior Function

Many muscle groups work in tandem with each other to contract and lengthen different parts of the body. The tibialis’ ability to move the foot is no exception.

The muscles in your calves play a significant role in the dorsiflexion of the ankle. This means if your calves are a limiting factor in your ankle mobility, the effectiveness of your tibialis to dorsiflex the ankle will also be limited. 

Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Science conducted a study in 2021 to examine the combined effects of stretching your calf muscles on the active range of motion for dorsiflexion and activity of the tibialis anterior. 

They found that stretching the calves significantly increased both tibialis anterior activity and the active range of motion of the foot during dorsiflexion. Meaning both the strength of your tibialis and the flexibility of the calves play an essential role in the effectiveness of moving your foot towards your body.

Because of this, it becomes important to round out your tibialis development with the right tools and methods for stretching out your calves. 

Take a look at our recent article covering everything you need to know about releasing tight calves and improving their flexibility. To help you get a start in the right direction for this article, we’ll leave an Amazon grid below with our favorite tools for stretching out the calves.

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