Your calves are about to get better.
Whether you’re wearing shorts or a swimsuit, your calves get seen more than any other part of your leg. If you’re not happy with the curve and tone of your calves, it’s time to start adding a few simple exercises to your workout routine. Seeing a difference in your calves will take consistency and commitment, but in time you’ll see results.
First off, if your muscles are hiding under a layer of fat, you’ve got to lose weight before toned calves will peek out. For this, you’ll want plenty of cardio exercise and a healthy diet.
By strength training using your body, weight machines, or free weights, your muscles adapt to bearing more weight and will gain mass and strength. Here are six simple exercises to perform two to three days a week.
Double-Leg Calf Raises
One of the best exercises to work your calf muscles is the calf raise. This exercise uses your own body weight or additional free weights for resistance. It has many variations and can be done at home, at the gym, or even sitting at work.
To do the double-leg calf raise, stand up straight with your feet slightly apart. Hold onto a wall, chair, or bar for balance. Press down onto the balls of your feet and raise your body straight up, not leaning forward or backward. Then lower your heels back toward the floor. Repeat.
To add intensity, stand on the edge of a large book, wood block, or barbell weight so that the balls of your feet are on the object and your heels hang off the back. Lower your heels down toward the floor for a few seconds, and then raise them up as high as possible. Repeat. Only lower your heels until you feel a stretch and burn in your calves. You shouldn’t feel any pain.
To work different muscles in your calf, try inverted calf raises (point your toes inward toward each other) and everted calf raises (place your heels together and point your toes outward).
Single-Leg Calf Raises
For additional intensity, try single-leg calf raises. Place one foot on the floor or elevated object and bend the opposite leg at the knee, so your foot is off the ground and behind you. Do 12–15 repetitions on your right leg and then the same number of reps on your left leg. Have good balance and want an extra challenge? Do these with a dumbbell in each hand.
Seated Calf Raises
An exercise you can do while sitting at home or at the office is the seated calf raise. Sit up straight with your feet on the floor and your knees directly above your feet. Place some sort of weight on your upper legs then press down onto the balls of your feet and raise your heels up. Lower and repeat.
Seated calf raises can also be performed on the calf exercise machine at your gym.
Walking up and down stairs is an exceptionally simple and effective calf workout. This can be done on stairs in your home, at work, at the stadium, or on the stair-stepper machine at the gym. Just walk up and down the steps for a few minutes and you’ll feel a burn.
An intense calf exercise that also incorporates your thigh and buttocks muscles is the jump squat. Similar to the basic squat but more challenging, the jump squat requires you to start in the squat position with your legs bent, knees over your feet, and your bottom pushed back as if to sit down. From this position, push up with your calves and jump up off the ground. Gently land back in squat position.
Not a Single Unit
You may admire your calf muscles as individual entities, but calves actually consist of two muscles: the gastrocnemius and the soleus. So when you work your two calf muscles, you’re actually working four muscles!
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