Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises


Closed kinetic chain (CKC) exercises consist of movements over multiple joints involving two or more muscles or muscle groups. CKC exercises are performed with the hands or feet in a fixed position (they do not move), in contact with the ground or the base of a machine. The exercises are usually weight bearing but can also be performed with additional weight such as a barbell across your back when performing squats.

Examples of CKC exercises include the squat, lunge, pull-up, chin-up and push-up.

Closed kinetic chain exercises are believed to be safer and more functional than their open kinetic chain (OKC) counterparts. OKC exercises involve the movement of one muscle or muscle group over one joint – the knee or elbow. Typical exercises such as leg extensions, hamstring curls and triceps extensions are examples of OKC exercises. Although they may be helpful in isolating a specific muscle group for strengthening, the overall recruitment of the muscle or muscle group is much less.

In addition to recruitment factors, OKC exercises, such as the leg extension, apply shear force causing a side to side shift in the knee and may place undue stress on the ligaments which hold the knee in place. On the other hand, closed kinetic chain exercises such as the squat reduce shear force and increase compression force in the knee for added stability at the joint. The squat also elicits co-contraction of the hamstrings which help reduce displacement and stabilizes the knee.



The benefit of incorporating CKC exercises in to your workout is that you recruit more muscles in a shorter period of time, with less shearing force, increased compression and improved joint stability. Using CKC exercises will enhance the way you move your body throughout the day as the exercises mimic the functional movements of daily life.

Have you ever heard of using nothing but your quadriceps when walking, running, jumping and sitting down? It’s not possible as your muscles, ligaments, and joints work as a team to help you move. In other words, your hip, knee, and ankle joints comprise your lower extremity kinetic chain and they work in combination to move your body.

Try working a couple of CKC exercises into your workout routine. You’ll spend less time working all of your muscles…and less time in the gym means more time for other things in your life.




Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises:

  1. Squat – front squat, back squat
  2. Leg press
  3. Lunges
  4. Deadlift
  5. Push-ups, handstand push-ups
  6. Pull-ups, chin-ups
  7. Chest dips
  8. Triceps dips




Click here for CKC exercise details



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The contents of this site are the opinions of Michele Tse unless otherwise noted. The information on this site is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical or nutritional advice or treatment. Please consult your health care practitioner before beginning any fitness program.