The shins are a very commonly neglected muscle.
While many people invest a large amount of time into developing their calves, training their shins often doesn’t occur to them and isn’t deemed as worthy of the effort needed.
The anatomical term for the shins muscle is tibialis anterior.
The tibialis anterior can be trained just like any muscle in your body and can cause cause several problems if it is neglected for too long.
If you avoid training your shins and only ever work on building your calves, you can end up with muscle imbalances, shin splints, and an unproportional look to your legs.
The shins, neck muscles, and transverse abdominis muscles are all commonly skipped over but can make a large, positive difference in your physique and overall strength if you take the time to work on them.
What Are the Benefits of Training Your Shins?
Training your shins has several benefits. These are the main advantages to training your shins:
- Reduced risk of shin splints
- Improved muscular balance between calves and shins muscles
- More aesthetic look to lower legs
- Enhanced muscle tightness in calves and shins
- Improved ankle stability and mobility
How Do You Train Your Shins?
To train your shins, you should train them like you would for any other muscle.
The tibialis anterior has a smaller muscle belly than most other muscles so it won’t grow as quickly, however the style of training that’s needed for growth is still the same.
You should implement progressive overload and be consistent in order to train and strengthen your shins.
If they are not growing as quickly as you’d like, you can increase the resistance or reps to stimulate hypertrophy, or vary the exercises you’re doing for them.
What Are the Best Exercises For Your Shins?
The best exercises for your shins are toe curls, heel drops, shin raises, monster walks, and weighted heel walks.
Toe curls are one of the best exercises to strengthen your shins and can be done with minimal equipment at home.
To do toe curls, just sit with your feet on the floor and curl your toes inward. It’s best to use a towel when doing toe curls in order to clench your toes around something and squeeze the tibialis anterior muscle fully.
Another great exercise to build the shin muscles is heel drops.
To do heel drops, stand on a raised surface such as a stair and lower your feet downwards slowly. Your heels should go from elevated to beneath the stair you’re standing on.
If you are able to, do heel drops with one foot at a time, and only use the other foot to go back up to the top position after completing a rep.
Following heel drops, shin raises are a third exercise that can help build your shins.
Shin raises can be done either on the ground against a wall or on a stair. Shin raises are performed by bringing your foot up towards your shin slowly and back down. You will likely need to lean on something for support so using a staircase or wall works best for this exercise.
Monster walks are one of the more difficult exercises to train the shins.
To do monster walks, you will need a resistance band to wrap around your ankles. Once you have a resistance band around your ankles, simply walk forward with your knees slightly bent and your toes raised slightly. Taking large strides will help make your shins work harder.
Weighted Heel Walks
Finally, weighted heel walks are a great exercise to do for strengthening and building the shins.
To do weighted heel walks, grab a pair of dumbbells and walk across any flat surface on your heels with your toes pointed up. To start, use less weight and as you develop your shins more, you can increase the weight you carry while doing this exercise so that progressive overload is applied.
Should Bodybuilders Focus On Building Their Shins?
The answer to whether or not bodybuilders should focus on building their shins depends on their genetics, how often they train their calves, whether or not they run, and how much time they have available to train.
If you naturally have thick, strong lower legs then you probably do not need to do a large amount of shin isolation exerices.
If you find that your calves and shins look small compared to your quadriceps, and hamstrings, then you should allocate more time to developing them.
If you do calf isolation exercises regularly then you should also do shin isolation exercises as well in order to keep muscular balance and avoid developing any problems caused by strong calves and weak shins.
To summarize, there are several reasons to train your shins. The benefits of training your shin muscles are a lowered risk of shin splints, improved muscular balance, improved aesthetics, enhanced muscle tightness in your lower legs, and improved ankle stability and mobility.
The best exercises to do for the shins are toe curls, heel drops, shin raises, monster walks, and heel walks with weights.