6 Terminal Knee Extension (TKE) Exercises for Beginners

TKE Exercises helps in regaining lost mobility and quad strength. (Image via Unsplash / Dylan Nolte)
TKE Exercises helps in regaining lost mobility and quad strength. (Image via Unsplash / Dylan Nolte)

Terminal knee extension is a easy quadriceps exercise performed by flexing the knee till it touches the seated upper leg. Terminal Knee (TKE) refers to the point when your legs are fully flexed, with no additional range of motion possible. The exercise makes up part of the Beep Test and is great for developing quad strength and helping develop good squat form.

Starting a terminal knee extension routine can be daunting. There's a lot of hype about knee extensions, and rightfully so, but it's a great exercise. However, there're a few key postures that come with knee extension that are easy to overlook. Not being prepared for these pitfalls can lead to ineffective training, or even worse — injury.

Effective Terminal Knee Extension Exercises (TKE)

Here's a look at six such exercises:

1) Forced Leg Extension

This incredibly simple exercise can help you regain terminal knee extension and improve your focus. Performing this movement for five to 20 minutes, once or twice a day, can help you regain lost mobility and focus.


To do this exercise:

  • Get down on the floor, and sit with your legs straight.
  • Try to let the back of one knee rest on the floor, but if it doesn't, take one hand, and press it down till it does.
  • Hold this position about 30 seconds, and switch to the other leg; repeat three times.

2) Prone Knee Extension

This exercise can be used at the beginning of a knee rehabilitation programme or when there's inflammation in the knee joint. It isolates and focuses on strengthening muscles that are important for knee stability.


To do this exercise:

  • Lie on the floor with your stomach on the ground, legs straight and feet close to your butt.
  • Roll up a towel, and place it under your shin bones near your feet.
  • Straighten your knees, and hold this position for five seconds.
  • Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat ten times.

3) Quad Set

To achieve a terminal knee extension, you should contract your quadriceps muscle. This exercise can help you isolate the quadriceps and use it to achieve terminal knee extension.


To do this exercise:

  • Get down on the ground with one leg extended in front of you.
  • Keep the other leg bent, and place your foot on the ground.
  • Lean against a wall, or use your hands to prop yourself up.
  • Press the back of your knee against the ground, and contract the quad muscle in that leg for six seconds.
  • Relax for ten seconds, and repeat eight to 12 times several times a day.

4) Seated Knee Extension

Seated Knee Extensions are another way to stretch and strengthen your quadriceps. Your quadriceps will help improve your balance and ability to stand upright for long periods.


To do this exercise:

  • Try to sit up straight without slouching, and keep your shoulders relaxed.
  • Lift one leg, stretching it out and bending the knee till your thigh is almost parallel to the floor.
  • Hold for a second at the top of the movement before lowering your leg again.
  • Repeat with each leg, keeping your knee completely straight throughout the exercise.
  • Do this set of repetitions slowly and carefully.

5) Standing Terminal Knee Extension

One way to strengthen your quads is by performing a standing terminal knee extension. This exercise requires a resistance band. Your physical therapist can provide you with one.


One way to strengthen your knees is to exercise them with resistance bands.

To do this exercise:

  • Anchor the band at the top of a door around a table leg or other vertical object.
  • Hold one end of the band in each hand, and stand facing away from the anchor point so that there's tension on the band.
  • Straighten your knees as far as possible, and hold for several seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat eight to ten times.

6) Lying Knee Extension

The lying leg extension is a popular strength-training exercise that targets your quads. This move is great for strengthening your quadriceps, and it works the front of your thighs.


To do this exercise:

  • Get on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Place a rolled-up towel or a cylinder under the knee of your other leg.
  • Slowly bend your raised leg at a 30-degree angle. Keep the other leg straight.
  • Tighten the thigh muscles as hard as you can, and hold for three seconds.
  • Return to the starting position by lowering your heel to the floor.


Two of the best ways to strengthen your knee extensors are TKE exercises and knee extensions.

Both can be performed with or without weight training equipment, and they should always be done in a controlled, smooth movement to avoid any injury. Start slowly, and build up as you get stronger. Remember to always consult a doctor before you undertake any sort of exercise programme.

Edited by Bhargav
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