Calves probably are the most overlooked body part by almost everyone (except the professionals), who slog it out in the gym. While the muscle groups of your upper legs may very well support the core muscles of your body when you’re lifting weights, it is the lower leg muscles of the calves that stabilise the body through every movement.
Calf muscles are a specialised muscle group that receive very little activity and attention unless they are specifically targeted. Therefore, it is imperative that you work on your calf muscles as hard as you workout for your other body parts.
Here are some tips for the same…
Standing calf raises
This exercise can be done using either a dedicated machine or a calf block.
Stand under the machine pads or bar with the balls of your feet on the calf block. Start with your heels low, about 2 to 4 inches below the block. This will offer the best stretch on your calves. Slowly raise yourself up on the balls of your feet as high as you’re able and contract your calf muscles as you reach the peak. Hold briefly and lower under control to repeat. Test different ranges of reps to see, which works for the density of your calf muscles better.
Seated calf raises
There is no substitute to this workout if you want to achieve complete development of calf muscles. While this movement is similar to the standing calf raise, the seated calf raise will actually target the lower muscles of the calf (the soleus).
Sit with the machine pads resting on your thighs and drop your heel to 2-4 inches depending on how flexible you are. Raise again and squeeze the calf muscles once you reach the top. The rep range for this workout depends on the needs of your body and what you can tolerate. But if you are starting it from the scratch then go for anything between 10-20.
In many lifting exercises you need to have explosive strength in your legs and that is precisely what box jumps offer you! A functional exercise, it can train your muscles to react and contract much quicker and will deliver some serious tone to your calf muscles that will result in overall better workout.
Stand on the balls of your feet and you toes in front of a box, with the height appropriate to your limitations. Jump onto the box and land again on your toes and the balls of your feet. Jump back down to the floor and repeat for 8 to 10 reps. Do not use dumbbells or other held weights during this exercise as you may need your hands free to catch yourself if you trip.
Dumbbell jump squats
This movement not only works the upper leg muscles, but also focuses a great deal of attention on the calf muscles.
Place yourself in a position for a standard squat and lower your body into the squat, moving to the balls of your feet and toes as you do so. Once you’re at your lowest point, propel yourself up and explode upward into a jump. Land on the balls of your feet and immediately move into another squat. Use dumbbells for this exercise to increase the difficulty level, but avoid using a barbell. Keep the reps anything between 10-20, depending on the strength of your legs and your stamina.