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This Simple Bodyweight Exercise Is Andrew Huberman’s Secret to Strong Knees and Big Calves

The tibialis raise can help reduce knee pain and boost performance

You’ve got your strength training and zone 2 cardio routine on lock, but what are you doing for your tibialis anterior? Running along your shin from your knee to your ankle, the tibalis anterior is arguably the most undertrained muscle in your lower body. Yet, according to Andrew Huberman, neuroscientist and professor at Stanford University, training your tibs is key.

On an episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, Huberman touted tibialis raises (which he nicknamed tib raises) as the unsung hero of his leg day workouts. “I’m really big on tib raises,” he told Ferris. He says tibialis work has helped him grow bigger, stronger calves, and improved his posture—reducing knee, sciatica, back, and shoulder pain in the process.

He credits Ben Patrick, famously known as “Knees Over Toes Guy,” for the hot tip. Patrick refers to tibialis anterior training as “step one” for reducing knee pain and increasing performance.

What are tibialis raises and to do them? Everything you need to know, below.

What Is the Tibialis Anterior and Why is it Important?

Your tibialis anterior (TA) muscle acts to dorsiflex the foot (raise your toes towards your knees).

“The tibialis is the decelerator of the foot—it’s the muscle that prevents the foot from going down,” Patrick explains in a YouTube video. “You use it every step when you walk, to slow down when you’re running, and to slow down to take a jump.”

The TA works eccentrically to reduce the impact on your foot, ankle, and knee when walking and running. The faster you move, the more forcefully your TA has to react to counteract the demands placed on the foot and ankle—one reason why shin splints are so common in runners.

If your TA isn’t strong enough, your knees take on the impact which can contribute to knee pain. Strengthening the TA can reduce knee and ankle injuries, and shin splints.

What Are Tibilias Raises?

The tibialis raise is designed to directly strengthen the tibialis anterior. It involves dorsiflexion of the foot. Think: the opposite of a calf raise.

It can be performed as a standing bodyweight exercise, with resistance bands (a variation extremely common in rehab settings), or with the use of a tib bar (which can be attached to the end of a bench) or a tib machine (which sits on the ground and can be loaded up with plates) for added resistance.

Which variation you choose depends on your experience and strength. Per Patrick, bodyweight tibialis raises are the perfect starting point.

How to Do a Tibialis Raise

Ready to get after it? Here’s how to do a bodyweight tibialis raise.

  • Stand with your back against a wall. Place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart, slightly in front of you. As you get stronger, step out further to make the exercise more challenging.
  • Keep your knees straight. Activate your quads as you use your shin muscles to pull your toes up as far as you can.
  • Slowly lower back down and repeat.

When Huberman first started two years ago, he aimed for 25 to 30 reps of bodyweight tib raises. Now, he aims to hit it hard on the tib machine with an eight- to ten-rep warm-up, and three sets of six to ten heavy reps to failure. We haven’t seen the man in shorts but if he says it’s working, we buy it.