Closed chain exercises & Open chain exercises

Fitness training experts have coined the terms closed-chain and open-chain that are used in the exercise/rehab field. Closed chain exercises involve more than one joint during a set of exercises in a strength training workout. Examples of these exercises are:

  • Leg Press
  • Chest Press
  • Shoulder Press
  • Chin ups
  • Parallel Dips

Open chain exercises involve only one joint during an exercise and examples would be:

  • Leg Extension
  • Leg Curl
  • Pullover
  • Biceps curl
  • Triceps Extension
  • Arm Cross
  • Lateral Raise

By recommending that people not perform open chain exercises during a strength training workout, the “so-called” fitness training experts have once again added more confusion. These recommendations to not perform open chain may well have contributed to a lot of people not achieving their optimal results!

In the last 50 years, these same “so-called” fitness experts have been responsible for the following theories:

  • The squat is dangerous and causes knee injuries and damage
  • Athlete’s water should be restricted during practice sessions
  • (then later completely reversing the same theory)

When it comes to high intensity strength training routines both closed-chain and open-chain exercises should and must be included for the purpose of building optimal muscular strength and maximum muscle mass. So make sure you have a well planned “total body” strength training routine that includes 3 to 5 lower body exercises and 4 to 6 upper body exercises of both closed-chain and open-chained movements.


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