The majority of people only train the quadriceps and hamstrings when they train their legs. But remember that you will need a great pair of calves to go with those thighs! Read more to find out how you can achieve this with calf raises.
What makes up the calf muscle?
The calf consists of two muscles, namely the:
- Gastrocnemius (the one that is visible on the body). The function of this muscle is to elevate the heel (plantar flexion).
- Soleus, which lies underneath the gastrocnemius. It functions in the same way as the gastrocnemius, the only difference being that during the seated calf raise the soleus is the muscle that works.
The calf muscle attaches to the Achilles Tendon and originates on the femur (behind the knee) and has two heads (medial and lateral).
5-Step guide to performing perfect standing calf raises
There are many ways to train your calves – and they are all good exercises – but standing calf raises are truly the best. Here is how to perform perfect standing calf raises:
- When approaching the standing calf raise machine, adjust the padded lever according to your height.
- Now place your shoulders under the pads and position your toes facing forward. (Alternatively, you can face your toes in or out to work either the inner or outer calf muscles more). The balls of your feet should be secured on top of the calf block with your heels extending off it.
Push the lever up by extending your hips and knees until your torso is erect. Your knees should be kept slightly bent but never locked. This will be your starting position.
- Raise your heels – as you breathe out – by extending your ankles as high as possible and flexing your calves. Ensure that you keep your knees stationary at all times. Hold the contracted position for a second.
- Breathe in as you return slowly to your starting position by lowering your heels and bend your ankles until your calves are stretched.
- Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
- Lift – as high as you can – onto your toes and lower your heels as much as your ankle flexibility allows. (Working through the full range of motion will lead to maximal contraction of your muscles. And – says John Leyva – the more your muscles contract the more they’ll grow.)
- Push evenly through the entire width of your foot. Don’t push off from your big toe or the outside edge of your feet.
- Don’t load too much weight to begin with. Learn how to perfect the seated calf raise first and then work your way up to doing them with more weights.
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