Typical weight training involves a rotational system where one particular body part is targeted each day: arms, back, legs, and so on. Strengthening the lower body usually involves exercises that target the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. While the muscles in the upper leg generally respond well to their corresponding exercises, a lot of us struggle to see much, if any, improvement in our calf muscles.
A key component to strengthening the muscles in your lower legs is flexibility, which typically gets forgotten. After workouts, it’s a good idea to spend a little bit of time stretching out your calf muscles. AskMen explained this can help increase your range of motion, which will more effectively stimulate your muscle fibers, leading to better results. It’s a simple change that might make a huge difference.
Now for the exercises. Some of these are standards that require a little more explanation, and some are a bit more unexpected. Whether you’re a veteran or a beginner, you can definitely benefit from adding these five calf moves to your fitness regimen.
1. Calf press
The largest muscle in your lower leg is the gastrocnemius, which runs from your knee all the way to your ankle. This muscle is activated every time you walk or run, but you need a concentrated effort to make it stronger and shapelier. Calf presses are one of the best ways to target your gastrocnemius, and they’re pretty simple to perform as long as you have access to a leg press machine.
Get into position by placing your feet about shoulder-width apart on the platform of the leg press machine with your heels hanging off the edge. Then, fully extend your legs, keeping a slight bend in your knee. Press the platform by raising your heels as high as possible, contracting your calf muscles. Pause briefly at the top of the move, then slowly lower your heels as far down as you can. You can check out a great video and guide on Bodybuilding.com. Keep in mind, you may have to play around with the weight a bit. You’ll be using significantly less load than with a standard leg press, so start a bit cautiously and add weight if you need to.