Home 8 Effective Open And Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises

8 Effective Open And Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises

by Austin Cole
7 minutes read
Young woman doing kinetic chain exercises

Kinetic chain exercises are movements that incorporate a sequence of body parts, including joints and muscles, working together to complete a motion. This concept is derived from the idea that human movements are interlinked, meaning that the movement at one joint affects the movements at another. These exercises are grouped into two main types: open and closed kinetic chain exercises. 

Major Benefits Of Kinetic Chain Exercises

Kinetic chain exercises extend a range of health and fitness benefits that contribute to overall physical wellness. They foster muscular strength and endurance, promote joint stability, and enhance neuromuscular coordination. Engagement in these exercises also improves balance and posture by strengthening the core and lower back muscles, in addition to amplifying power and agility, which could be especially beneficial for athletes. 

From a rehabilitation perspective, kinetic chain exercises assist in recovering from injuries by rebuilding muscle and restoring joint functionality. The comprehensive nature of these exercises provides a holistic approach to fitness, emphasizing the connectedness of the body’s musculoskeletal system.

Downsides Of Kinetic Chain Exercises

While kinetic chain exercises have numerous advantages, they also have certain downsides. Open-chain exercises, for example, can put stress on the muscles and joints since they often involve movements that isolate a joint and work through a single plane of motion. This may increase the risk of injury if not performed correctly or if there’s pre-existing joint instability.

Closed-chain exercises, though typically considered safer, may not always be suitable for individuals with specific joint issues or those new to exercise, as they can be intense and involve complex movements. Additionally, both types may not always translate perfectly to individual needs in sports performance, where tailored movements outside these categories are necessary. Therefore, it’s essential to balance the two types of exercises and account for personal health conditions and fitness goals.

Types Of Kinetic Chain Exercises

Exercise Type





Engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously





Improve functional strength, proprioception, and skills for daily/sports activities


Isolate individual muscles/joints

Bicep curls

Triceps extensions

Shoulder presses

Calf raises

Targeted muscle strengthening, rehabilitation of specific areas


When incorporated together

Goblet squats to press

Swiss ball chest press

Single leg -Romanian deadlift to bicep curl

Push up row

Lunge with rotation;

Plank walkout to curl

Provide comprehensive fitness benefits targeting both functional movement and isolated muscle groups

Open Vs. Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises: The Differences

The primary contrast between open and closed kinetic chain exercises lies in the interaction of the body with external forces. In open-chain exercises, the distal segment (like the hand or foot) moves through space, often against resistance. Consequently, these exercises can be excellent for isolating specific muscles, allowing a focus on strength or rehabilitation in a controlled manner. 

On the other hand, closed-chain exercises involve fixed extremities, which lead to the movement of multiple joints simultaneously. This engagement promotes compound muscle work, closely simulating real-world motions and activities. It’s also argued that closed-chain exercises are generally safer for the joints due to the distribution of force across a larger surface area.

Who Can Benefit from Open Kinetic-Chain Exercises?

Open kinetic-chain exercises can benefit individuals looking to enhance muscular strength or rehabilitate from an injury. These exercises allow for targeted muscle isolation, making them useful for bodybuilders and those recovering from surgery who need to strengthen a specific area without placing undue stress on other body parts. Athletes can also use open-chain exercises to boost strength in muscles critical for their sport-specific movements.

Who Can Benefit from Closed Kinetic-Chain Exercises?

Closed kinetic-chain exercises are beneficial for virtually anyone looking to improve their overall fitness. They are especially useful for athletes who require enhanced proprioception, joint stability, and functional strength for their sports. 

People with a focus on general fitness, weight loss, or body toning can also benefit from these exercises because they often work several muscle groups at once. Leading to higher energy expenditure and more practical strength gains. Closed-chain exercises are also central to injury prevention programs, as they can help reinforce the muscles around critical joints.

8 Best Open And Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises

Exercise Type

Exercise Name



Bench Press

The bench press is an ideal exercise for targeting the chest, shoulders, and triceps. It involves lying on a bench and pushing a weight away from the chest. It’s a staple in strength training for building upper body mass and improving push strength, although it requires caution to prevent shoulder strain.


Bicep Curls

Bicep curls isolate the bicep muscles and are executed by curling a weight upwards while keeping the elbows close to the torso. They are effective for building arm strength and can be performed with dumbbells, barbells, or resistance bands.


Seated Leg Extensions

Seated leg extensions focus on the quadriceps, strengthening the front part of the thigh. They are performed by extending the legs against resistance while seated and are often incorporated into rehabilitation programs for knee injuries.


Chest Fly

The chest fly primarily works on the pectoral muscles and is conducted by moving the arms in an arc while holding weights, starting with arms extended to the sides. This movement helps sculpt the chest muscles and enhances the range of motion.



A fundamental bodyweight exercise, push-ups engage the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core. The stability required to perform a push-up enhances joint strength and encourages muscular balance and coordination.



Pull-ups are an upper body strengthening staple that targets the back, shoulders, and arms. Requiring a bar to hang from, they are a challenging movement that can significantly boost upper body muscular endurance and strength.



Squats work the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core. By keeping the feet grounded and moving the body downwards, this exercise is pivotal for lower body strength and can improve mobility and balance.



Lunges are versatile exercises that strengthen the lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, while also improving stability and flexibility. They can be performed using body weight or with added resistance.

DIY Program with Open and Closed Kinetic-Chain Exercises

Creating an exercise program that seamlessly integrates both open and closed kinetic-chain exercises requires consideration of individual goals, fitness levels, and any physical limitations. It’s wise to start with an assessment of one’s current capabilities and objectives, whether that’s building muscle, rehabilitating an injury, or improving athletic performance. 

From there, a balanced routine should incorporate a mix of both exercise types. Closed-chain exercises can be used to establish a foundation of strength and stability, while open-chain exercises can hone in on specific muscle groups or rehabilitative needs. It’s also essential to factor in exercise progression, ensuring that the complexity and intensity of the workouts increase gradually to avoid overtraining and injuries. 

Remember, listening to your body is pivotal; modifications and rest are just as important as the exercises themselves.

Importance of the Kinetic Chain in a Rehabilitation Program

Informative image features a woman explaining a kinetic chain exercise program on a whiteboard to a young man with a shoulder injury, set against a backdrop with a philodendron leaf, reflecting well-being and calm.

The kinetic chain’s significance in rehabilitation cannot be overstressed. An understanding of the kinetic chain and its application promotes effective recovery from injuries by taking into account how different parts of the body are interconnected. Closed-chain exercises are often deemed beneficial early in the rehabilitation process as they mimic daily activities, thus facilitating functional recovery. 

As the rehabilitation progresses, open-chain exercises can be introduced to isolate and strengthen the injured area further. Therapists must evaluate the patient’s response to various exercises and adapt the program accordingly to encourage healing and prevent future injuries. Integrating kinetic chain principles ensures a more comprehensive and holistic approach to rehabilitation, resulting in a more successful return to normal activity.

Final Thoughts

In wrapping up this exploration into kinetic chain exercises, it becomes clear that both open and closed kinetic chain movements offer unique benefits and can be integrated into one’s fitness or rehabilitation regime. The judicious use of these exercises can improve joint stability, muscle strength, coordination, and functional abilities, which are vital components of a healthy and active lifestyle. 

It is important, however, to approach these exercises with an informed perspective and often under professional guidance to gain the maximum benefits while minimizing the risk of injury.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the main benefits of integrating kinetic chain exercises into my workout? 

Kinetic chain exercises contribute to improved muscular strength and endurance, enhanced joint stability, better balance, and posture, as well as increased power and agility. They are critical for overall functional fitness, which is essential for day-to-day activities and athletic performance.

Can kinetic chain exercises help with injury rehabilitation? 

Yes, kinetic chain exercises are integral to many rehabilitation programs. They can assist in rebuilding muscle strength, restoring joint functionality, and improving neuromuscular control, thereby aiding in recovery from a variety of injuries.

How often should I perform kinetic chain exercises? 

The frequency of kinetic chain exercises should be based on individual fitness goals, health conditions, and recovery needs. It’s crucial to balance workouts with rest and seek professional advice to design a suitable exercise program that includes an appropriate mix of open and closed kinetic chain exercises.

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