When it comes to strengthening your tibialis anterior, a tib bar is definitely going to be your best option, and it’s not even close.
And even though they aren’t expensive (you can grab one for $50), I realize that some of you might want to avoid spending anything if possible.
Luckily there are plenty of more affordable ways to get started with your tibialis training!
I suggest getting your feet wet with these options until you fully realize how insanely important tib training is.
Sooner or later you’ll see the light and invest in your first tib bar!
Until then, here are a few of the best tib bar alternatives.
Standing Tib Raise
The standing tib raise is the first exercise anyone should start out with when getting into tibialis anterior training.
Most athletes will struggle to get 10 reps with their own bodyweight initially, but when you start doing these regularly, it won’t be long before you can do 20+ reps.
You can make this exercise harder by edging your feet further out from the wall.
Wearing a shoe with a higher heel will also make the exercise more difficult.
Complete beginners might want to start fairly close to the wall while wearing fairly flat heeled shoes.
While this exercise is perfect for your first few weeks of training, eventually you’ll outgrow it, which is where a tib bar will come in really handy.
It’s also really difficult to increase your absolute strength using the standing tib raise, as you can only really overload the exercise by increasing the number of reps.
A tib bar lets you use progressively heavier weight which is going to turbo charge your tib development.
Resistance Band Tib Raise
Another option is to use a resistance band to overload your tibs.
This one’s super simple and can be performed in most gyms by attaching a resistance band to something solid.
This is a great next step after you’ve mastered the standing tib raise, as it’s easier to overload by using either a thicker resistance band or by increasing your distance from the attachment point.
Kettlebell Tib Raise
Kettlebells also work decently well if you don’t have a tib bar.
Again this is a unilateral tib raise which means you’re only able to train one leg at a time, but it’s definitely better than nothing.
One issue with this method is not having access to the right weight kettlebell or your toes not fitting into the opening.
Still it’s definitely worth experimenting with whatever kettlebells you have at your gym to see if you can get a good tib burn going using this method!
Dumbbell Tib Raise
It’s also possible to strap a dumbbell to your foot.
Most people do this using a Nordic strap which is the easiest and most secure way to fasten a dumbbell to your foot.
While this works, unless you already have a Nordic strap, you may as well pay a few dollars extra and pick up a proper tib bar which is going to be far more convenient!
If you’d like a few more tib bar alternatives, check out my list of the 10 best tibialis anterior exercises!
Anterior Tib Machine
The absolute best alternative to the tib bar is to use an anterior tib machine, which is a specialized piece of equipment designed specifically for this shin curl movement.
They’re actually fairly affordable and cost less than a couple hundred bucks and I’ve found they actually produce a better overall tib burn than the tib bar.
Sure, they’re definitely not as portable or convenient as a tib bar, but if you’re doing tib work regularly, these make an excellent addition to your home gym setup.
Why The Tib Bar Is Irreplaceable
While all these exercises are useful, they’re limited in how effective they are.
Standing tib raises get old very quickly and after a while won’t be a super effective way of stimulating your tibs.
Resistance band tib raises just don’t feel that great – mainly because the tension is highest when your tib is fully contracted, meaning the eccentric portion of the movement is significantly easier.
Kettlebell and dumbbell tib raises are just super fiddly and also don’t feel that great… The weight sits too far down on your foot and needs to be a bit higher/closer to your toes for it to be really effective.
Anterior tib machines are amazing, but if you’re not yet willing to fork out $100 for a tib bar, you probably won’t want to pay $180 for an anterior tib machine…
Pound for pound, the tib bar is the most convenient, best feeling, and highest value for money way to train your tibialis anterior, hands down.
I’ve spent thousands on fitness equipment over the years, and the $50 I spent on my tib bar is by far the best investment I ever made in training gear.
You can currently grab a FAE Iron Tib Bar for under $80 using my 10% discount code “A1ATHLETE” at checkout.
These things are fantastic and I guarantee it’ll be the best $70 you’ve ever spent!
Why You Should Also Use A Single Leg Tib Bar
Having a long history of busted up ankles, I’ve finally been able to improve my ankle mobility and strength by including a healthy regime of ankle inversion/eversion training using a single leg tib bar.
The single leg tib bar is the single best way to stretch out your ankle throughout the full range of motion.
Ben Patrick (knees over toes guy) has said this is an excellent way of clearing out scar tissue from previous ankle injuries and I’ve personally seen massive improvements in this department.
You simply can’t do this using a regular tib bar, which is why I use both!
If you want to learn more about the single leg tib bar, check out my full rundup of the best single leg tib bars on the market!