When it comes to calf muscles most of us are as concerned with their form as we are with their function. The calves are made up of two main muscles – the gastrocnemius and the soleus. These muscles are responsible for everyday activities like walking and extending the foot. Obviously we also use our calves for more strenuous activities such as jogging, jumping, running and cycling. Calf exercises can help you jump higher and perform better in sports such as basketball and gymnastics.
There is no denying how great calves improve the look of the leg and overall body confidence, too. Try the following exercises to improve the form and function of your calves. You need not devote more than 20 minutes a day on alternate days to this regimen. Not sure how you can work a calf routine into your already busy schedule? Break it up into 5 minute increments or even consider doing the workout while you watch the news or your favorite sitcom. In no time at all you can have strong and sexy calves. I’d say that is twenty minutes well spent – no matter how you break it up.
Calf raises are probably the most common go to strategy for building strong calf muscles. The exercise requires little space, is easy to modify and can be done with or without equipment. Try doing calf raises:
Standing – Place your feet on an aerobic step or even a step in your home (if outside you can use the edge of a curb). Standing tall and straight move your foot back so that the ball of the foot remains on the stair and the heel of your feet extends over the edge. Holding onto a wall, chair, tree, etc. raise yourself slowly onto your toes. Hold the position for 10-15 seconds before lowering to the starting position. Complete at least 2 sets of ten each day on alternate days.
Modifications – if your goal is to build your calves rather than simply tone them you can add weights to your standing calf raise routine. Since your range of motion will be limited (you are essentially just holding the weight) you can challenge yourself with a dumbbell that is a bit heavier than you might use for a bicep or tricep lift.
An even easier modification – Simply stand on your toes while washing the dishes or waiting in line to check out at the store. Lift yourself onto your toes and hold the position for 10-15 seconds before bringing your feet flat to the floor. Repeat 5-10 times if you don’t feel like you are attracting too much attention.
Many well equipped gyms have a leg press machine. This equipment helps build strong calves by having users sit back at about a 45 degree angle with knees and legs in a bridge position. Legs extend or press forward against the weight thus strengthening the calf muscles. Increase weight as you build muscle and confidence, being careful not to do too much before your body is physically ready.
Building stronger calf muscles is among the easiest ways to stay encouraged as you change your fitness level. Why? Because it is so easy to do and you realize visible results rather quickly. One of the best things about success is that it begets success. When you are rewarded by visible results, it’s hard not to continue with your great new habit. What are you waiting for? Start lifting those calves today.