These 3 Exercises Show Us How to Strengthen Calves
If you’re going to build a muscular full-body physique, you can’t ignore the legs. We’ve all seen the guys (and sometimes women) in the gym with the large upper body but the oddly small lower body. Whether you’re one of these athletes or whether you’re trying to avoid becoming one of these athletes, these four calf exercises will help you develop serious muscle mass.
Understanding the Calves
The calf is made up of 2 muscles. The first muscle is the gastrocnemius. The second muscle is the soleus. The former brings out the round shape of the calf while the latter brings out the flat shape. When strengthening the calves, you need to target both of these muscles or the results will be lacking. Here are 3 exercises that will build awesome calves.
- Double Leg Calf Raise
It is one of the basic exercises for strengthening the calves. Using your own bodyweight or with the additional use of dumbbells or a weighted barbell, it’s easy to tone both of the muscles found in the calves. Start by standing near a wall to assist with maintaining your balance, if necessary. Keep your feet apart, preferably hip-width while keeping your ankles, hips and knees vertically aligned to offer protection to the joints.
Now, you should raise your body upward by pressing down into the balls on both your feet. Your abdominal muscles should be pulled in to allow your body to move upward straight without shifting it in any direction back or forth.
Some of the variations to the exercise include the following.
First, you can try standing on one stair or an elevated surface that allows your heels to drop lower than the toes. The balls of your feet should always be on the stair as you try lowering the heels as far much as possible towards the floor. Try pressing your heels as high as possible again and repeat.
Secondly, repeat the entire exercise by adding more weight to bring out more intensity. Try adding a dumbbell to each hand or placing a barbell across your traps and back.
- Single Leg Calf Raise
The single leg calf raise increases the intensity and strain placed on the calf muscles. Try standing on one leg near a wall for balance and bent the other one behind you. To protect the joints, make sure the hip, knee and ankle are vertically aligned.
Next, you should raise your foot up by pressing down on the ball. To avoid shifting backward or forwards, you should pull in your abdominal muscles. Just like the exercise listed above, you can also try some variations for better results. These include the following.
Try standing on an elevated surface like a stair. Make sure the ball of the foot is on the elevated surface and try dropping the heel below the step. Then you should consider pressing as high up as possible.
Also, you can bring more intensity by adding some weight to the exercise. Try holding a dumbbell or barbell as you would with the double leg calf raise.
- Seated Calf Raise
A seated calf raise machine is a universal piece of equipment in every gym throughout the world. It works on both muscles located in the calves. If you’re at home, the exercise can be modified to fit your needs. Here are the two variations you can try out for the best results.
At the Gym: Use the calf press machine to perform this exercise at the gym. If you set yourself up properly, the balls of your feet should be properly placed on the platform. Now you can lower the heels downwards towards the floor. Remove the safety latch of the machine and release the weight onto the calves.
At Home: Try sitting on a sturdy and firm chair with your feet lying flat on the floor. Make sure your knees are properly aligned over the feet. Don’t turn your knees inwards or outwards. Add some resistance by leaning forward and placing your hands on the thighs close to the knees then pushing down. You can also add a weight to the thighs for additional difficulty. Now you can try pressing down slowly into the balls of the feet to raise the heels as high as possible. Then lower your heels slowly and repeat the exercise.
Calf-Building Sport Activities
Here are some useful sporting activities that will build your calves.
- Hiking, walking or running are perfect exercise to strengthen your calves especially when going uphill. Thus if the climb is steep, your calves will get a great workout.
- Running Sports – soccer, tennis, basketball or any other sports that force you to jump, run and push the calves to change or accelerate quickly in different directions are great for building calf muscle.
- Step Class –dance classes definitely help to strengthen your calves. That’s because by stepping up and down, you bend your knees thus pushing off from low to high positions and vice versa.
- Swimming – a good exercise to strengthen the calves as well as the overall leg muscles. It’s a good exercise since it is very low impact compared to jumping or running. It’s also the best option for people who are less athletic or suffering from an injury.
Note that, for overweight people looking to build muscle and strengthen their calves, it’s safe to add a weight loss program that involves dieting and exercising for a complete overhaul of the whole body.
Also, when doing the exercise mentioned above, you should always be consistent. Try them at least two or three times every week for the best results. Be cautious with each exercise by moving slowly thus keeping your body alignment in check at all times. You can also try customizing the exercises to match your fitness level and to avoid any injury.
Always remember, that muscle building is a long process and it’s hard to expedite the muscle building process without the use of supplements. Maintaining proper nutrition and the intelligent use of appropriate supplements can help you achieve quicker results. But, only if you show up consistently and work hard in the gym.