T Nation

Working the dorsi fleors

Hi Everyone,

I really want to get some definition in my legs and I’m working on calves and I relly want to work on my dorsi flexor muscles(the muscles that help point the foot up, just to make sure i’m talking about the right thing here!)
I am a uni student and don’t have much time or spare money for the gym.but I do however, have a total gym, two dumbells, a bench w/leg curls and a barbell. Is there any excercises anybody could reccomend me doing to work these muscles?
I’ve tried tying dumbells to my shoes but that didn’t work too well.
If anybody could help me out, i’d be indebted.
Thanks, Jason

Try DB Dorsiflexions. Check out a photo here:

Try a DARD.
Do a search on weight training, DARD or check out http://store.yahoo.com/bodybuilding-qfac/dardreg.html.
I made mine out of ieces of threated pipes from a hardware store years ago.
Best of Luck.

While i appreciate the effort here, i just dont see the need in doing dorsiflexion exercises. Its just not going to make that big of a difference.

Get yourself a board to stand on, or a step. This is just like a calf raise except that you’re going to do it backward.

Put your heels on the stair and let your toes and the rest of your foot hang off the front. Then dorsi flex your feet. If you want to add resistance you may want to try this on one foot or hold weight.


You know, I’ve been working my tibialis for a few months now and I can tell you that it has made a noticeable difference in helping my balance, especially in Olympic lifts. Perhaps this muscle group was just extremely weak in my case, but I’ve found I’m much more capable of maintaining stability and regaining it if I start to lose my balance on something like clean and jerks, power snatches and frontsquats. Yes, it’s a pretty minor thing to worry about, but it does play a role. Additionally, if you do any sprinting or even hiking and mountaineering, you’ll be happy that you’ve strengthened that area. Reduces fatigue and shin splints. Just a few sets a week seems to do the trick for me.

I warm up using the edge of a stair and then I put a dumbell between my feet while sitting on a bench, raise my legs up so that they’re parallel to the bench and more or less flat and try to raise the weight up so that my toes are poiting back towards me. Check out Chad Waterbury’s article a few months ago profiling this exercise. I can’t remember the name of the article, though. Check the back issues.

Goldberg-I respectfully disagree. Bringing up the dorsiflexors is a great way to add an extra 1/8-1/4" on your calves without making any serious specialization training adjustments. Plus, for most athletes, it can be an important part of injury prevention (shin splints). Does dorsiflexion exercises rank up there with cleans, deads, squats, etc.? Hell no. But if you have chicken legs and shin splits, they merit consideration.

Will they really help with shin splints? We have a doctor here that has operated on two of our female basketball players who spent over a year rehabbing (i have no idea what they did but i can ask) shin splints.

Goldberg, perhaps my evidence for injury prevention is just anecdotal, but I would suspect some benefit would result. At the very least, I have noticed a difference in stability. It’s a small change, but for me it seems to have worked. There was a gentleman in the gym that I spoke to last night that say he used to do them all the time when he used to run, to prevent shin splints and he said they prevented a recurrence. Anyone else have any input?


It’s important to remember that “shin splints” is really an umbrella term used to describe inflammation in the lower leg. It may be tendonitis of the anterior or posterior tibialis, or periostitis (bone inflammation) of the tibia.

In most cases, the injury is caused by training error (overuse, change in training surface), over-reliance on the tiptoes, or EXCESSIVE PRONATION.

In the case of anterior shin splints, we’re talking about inflammation of the tibialis anterior, which is an anti-pronator (supinator) due to its insertion on the medial aspect of the foot. When excessive pronation is occurring, the tibialis anterior has to fire constantly to oppose the pronation. If the muscle is strong, then it is less likely to be overused. If it’s weak, you get shin splints. Since it’s much easier to train the anterior tibialis with dorsiflexion exercises (as opposed to supination or inversion movements), they definitely have a place in the prevention/rehab of shin splints.

I asked one of the student athletic trainers what they did and he just said rehab. He didnt know any specifics. I had them once and I got them from squatting. Weird huh. that was the only time they hurt. But i got a kidney infection and was bed ridden for a couple of days and they never came back. Dick Hartzel(sp?) of jumpstretch has some good inversion and eversin exercises and i actually remember reading an article in an old Strength and Conditioning that said band inversions and eversions helped prevent ankle injuries.

Eric, thanks for the info.