Who doesn’t want good looking calves? While we tone and strengthen our abs, shoulders, and thighs, let’s not forget about the muscles that keep our legs strong and looking good.
Each calf consists of two muscles that give it its shape and functionality:
- Gastrocnemius muscle: Attaches just above the knee and responsible for giving the calf its rounded shape.
- Soleus muscle: Attaches just below the knee and is a longer, flatter muscle.
Both muscles work together with the heel and control body functions such as walking, jumping and running. Exercising with weak calves can lead to overexertion and limit your mobility during injury.
5 Exercises That Target Calf Muscles
Having strong calves are important to reducing injury and preventing soreness in the calf muscles.
1. Calf Raises
Calf raises are easy to do and help build stronger calves. Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes facing forward.
Shifting your weight to your toes, slowly start to lift your heels as high as you can. When you are at the highest point on your toes, pause for about 1 second and lower your heels back down. You have an option to raise one heel at a time.
Perform calf raises for 60 seconds or for 30 seconds on each leg.
2. Run or Walk Uphill
Running or walking up a hill or an elevated surface will keep your calves engaged and make you work harder during your workout. An elevated surface compared to a flat one is harder to run on, therefore, you use more energy in the process.
You can either practice sprinting up a hilly route for about 30 seconds or perform a few lunges for about 60 seconds.
Hiking is another way to incorporate an uphill workout. Call a few friends and get a few snacks ready to go on a hike. Not only will you strengthen your calves, you’ll also be able to catch up with your pals as you exercise.
3. Jump Rope
Jumping exercises are a good way to build strength in your calves. You can choose how fast or slow you want to go with your jump rope, and the exercise can be performed for about 50 – 60 seconds.
Don’t forget to have fun with this exercise and see how long you can last without stepping on the rope!
4. Foot Pumps
This exercise can be done while you lie in bed. Lie on your back with your legs and toes facing forward. Using one leg at a time, point your toes downwards and then bring them back up and point them towards you.
One of the easiest and less strenuous ways to work your calves, foot pumps are the best exercises to do after an injury or surgery to boost circulation. Foot pumps should be performed for about 60 seconds.
5. Seated Calf Raises
Targeting the flexibility and strength of your calf, seated calf raises are easy to do and can be done anywhere as long as you have a place to sit.
Take a seat on a chair or a bench with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Gently lift one heel while shifting pressure on your toes. If you start with the right leg, lift your heel as high as you can, pause for 3 seconds, and bring it back to the floor.
Repeat the exercise using the left heel. Seated calf raises should be performed for 60 seconds and should be practiced at least 15 times a day.
As always, listen to your body and if anything seems out of place, stop the exercise and consult your doctor immediately. Make sure you consult your doctor before performing new exercises, especially if you are injured.
6 ways to improve calf strength. (2016, November 22). Retrieved April 05, 2018, from https://therunningbug.com/fitness/tips-and-advice/6-ways-to-improve-calf-strength
Calf Workout: Strengthening & Stretching Exercises. (n.d.). Retrieved April 05, 2018, from http://www.foot-pain-explored.com/calf-workout.html