Strong calves don’t only balance out the way that you look. They’re also absolutely fundamental to gaining power as well as explosiveness both in and outside the gym. Your calf muscles assist with propelling you forward and up during explosive movements. This makes them extremely useful for sprinting and plyometrics, and any activity which requires leg propulsion or foot stabilisation upon landing, like running, volleyball, and basketball.
Tight calf muscles may limit your ankle mobility as well as potentially increasing the likelihood of injuries such shin splints or Achilles tendonitis. This means that it’s crucial to train them — and work on ankle mobility — regularly.
During a calf-strengthening workout, you target the two muscles which make up the calf:
- The gastrocnemius muscle, which lends the calf its round shape.
- The soleus, which is the flatter, longer muscle that runs underneath the gastrocnemius and lower down your leg.
Standing Calf Raise On Elevated Surface
This is a fantastic exercise to stretch as well as strengthen the calves (primarily the gastrocnemius) through a full range of motion:
- With a dumbbell securely in your left hand, stand up tall with the ball of your left foot on an elevated surface and with your heel hanging off. Your right toes must rest on your left ankle.
- Making sure that you keep your core firm, raise your left heel as high as you possibly can.
- In a slow fashion, lower your heel down below the raised surface until you feel a stretch in your calf muscle.
- Repeat and do equal reps on both legs.
Inward Calf Raise
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your toes facing inward.
- Draw your abs inward in order to stabilise your body as you lift up onto the balls of your feet. Keep your legs straight. Ensure that your knees are soft.
- Pause at the top, squeeze your calf muscles and then lower back down to the ground.
That’s one rep. Complete 15.
Seated Calf Raise
This is a great exercise for soleus isolation:
- Sit tall on a bench or chair. Make sure that your feet are flat on the ground. Hold two heavy dumbbells on the top of your thighs.
- Keep your core engaged and lift your heels off the ground as high as you possibly can.
- In a slow fashion, lower your heels back down to the mat. Repeat the movement.
In order to grow your range of motion, as well as work your muscles even more while doing a seated calf raise, elevate the balls of your feet with a block.
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