Closed Chain Knee Exercises

Strengthening or rehabilitating knees and legs requires both open- and closed-chain exercises. A closed-chain exercise requires that the body part at the end of the chain stays fixed on the ground or other solid object. These exercises tend to mimic activities performed in real life. Closed-chain exercises utilize multiple muscle groups, creating greater stability and coordination around the joint.


Squats require you to use several muscles of the lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals. Stand with your feet parallel, about hip-width apart. Using the same motion you would to sit down on a chair, bend at your hips and bring your torso forward. Keep your knees in line with your toes, and your weight and center of gravity balanced through your whole foot. Stand back up using the muscles of the upper leg. Hold dumbbells to add resistance and difficulty.


To begin a lunge, bring your feet and legs into a staggered stance a few feet apart. Keeping your torso straight, bend both your knees until the front thigh is parallel to the floor, and the back knee is about an inch off the ground. Keep your weight balanced through your front foot and stand up straight. Lunges work the majority of the lower leg muscles.


The most common closed-chain exercises keep both legs in contact with the surface. One-leg exercises do qualify as closed-chain, provided you alternate both sides equally, and that the standing leg performs the work. Exercises such as the one-leg squat, one-leg balance and step-ups work on balance as a closed-chain knee exercise.

About this Author

Lisa Martin holds a B.S. from the University of Maryland in dietetics, personal training certification through AFAA and is CSCS certified through NSCA. As the owner of Wellness Evolution, she has more than 10 years of experience in the industry, writing a monthly newsletter, blog and articles for various local newspapers.