Training the stubborn muscle – calves
If you go around wearing shorts and have chiseled calves, people will be pretty impressed. Calf muscles are what I like to call the show off muscles. They are visible even with your clothes on.
Calf muscles are located in the posterior compartment of lower limb. The muscles located here mainly consist of gastrocnemius and soleus muscle. These muscles function in plantar flexion of the foot (moving the feet downwards) at the ankle joint and, to some extent, flexing the leg at knee joint.
Even though it is said that the calf muscles are hereditary, they can be built bigger and stronger by exercise. And you might also hear how you need not to train your calf muscles separately as they get targeted with other exercises you erform on your leg day.
But if you want to build calves that you can show off, you need to work out for it. However, due to its limited function, there aren’t many exercises and angles at which this muscle can be targeted. Here are a few exercises for building bigger and stronger calf muscles.
These are classic calf building exercises which require you to lift your body weight using calf muscles only. The key is to stand on a horizontal surface with feet hip-width apart and push the balls of your feet into the ground to raise your ankle up. Hold for a second before lowering yourself back on the ground. Remember not to lean forward or backwards and raise yourself in a straight line. Perform three sets of 15 to 20 reps.
To add intensity to this workout you can perform the exercise by standing on one foot while the second foot rests behind the first foot but make sure to perform it near a wall just in case if you lose your balance. Alternately, if you want to go heavier, you can use dumbbells to increase the weight against which the calf muscles have to work.
This is an excellent exercise to isolate and work your calf muscles. To perform this workout, chose an appropriate weight on leg press machine and get seated. Place your toes and balls of your feet on the platform shoulder width apart. Make sure the heels are extending out of the platform. Your upper body and lower body should be directly perpendicular to each other.
If you can keep the safety lock on without your knees being fully stretched then leave it on, otherwise remove the safety lock and push the balls of your feet into the platform as far up as you can. Make sure your ankle is fully flexed. Hold it for a second, then reverse the motion and repeat 20 times. Perform three sets in total.
Make sure your calves are doing all the work and your knees stay in place throughout the lift. Be careful not to slip the feet out of platform. If the safety lock is not on, you can imagine how ugly the results can be. Remember to choose your weight wisely.
DONKEY CALF RAISES
This is a very uncommon workout and, to be honest, a little awkward to perform. But this exercise has helped a lot of people so it is definitely worth mentioning. To perform this exercise, bend over so your upper body is at 90 degrees to your lower body. The back should be straight and your hands should grab something to stabilize the body.
Now ask a friend to climb over to you back and sit there as if riding a donkey. Now you have to raise your ankles by pushing the balls of your feet into the floor to lift your friend’s weight exclusively by using the calf muscles. Sounds hard right? It is just the kind of exercise that will give you rock solid calves. Perform three sets of 12-15 reps
SEATED CALF RAISES
Seated on a bench (or preferably seated calf raise machine) bend your knees at 90 degree and place weight plates on your thigh. Then slowly lift up your heels till you feel a pull on your calves, hold for a second before lowering the feet back to the start position.
If you can get your hands on a roman chair at gym, it can be used for targeting the gluts, hamstrings and calf muscles at the same time. Lying face down, adjust your feet within the foot support and using your lower body, pull yourself towards your feet. Perform three sets of as many reps as you can pull.
This is a simple exercise that can be performed at home. It is a form of cardio so it is beneficial for those looking for weight loss. To perform this exercise start by locking your knees together so they are touching each other. Bend your knees slightly and place your hands on your hips. Now, without letting the knees separate, perform air circles such that it looks like you are drawing circles with your knees.
Other than these, you can work your calves by running, hiking, rope jumping, sled dragging and swimming. Don’t leave anything to chance and stop blaming your genes. Take control and work hard to be able to wear shorts everywhere and have eyes follow you.