Calf exercises are an essential part of your usual gym exercises. Calves help in maintaining the balance in our well-kept and well-toned upper body system. They also help us not only during our intensive exercises by promoting power and efficiency but also keeps us stronger outside our typical intensive training program.
Our calf muscles are important since it helps us propel forward especially during sprinting and plyometric exercises. They are very useful in providing the necessary support and power for any sports and activities that require foot movements including basketball, cycling, running, tennis, volleyball, among others.
Plyometrics are drills that include jumping movements such as bounding, clap push-ups, jumping rope, jump squats, hopping, lunges, and skipping.
Weak and tight calf muscles will lead to potential injuries such as Achilles Tendonitis, Plantar Fasciitis, and even shin splints. Shin splints are generally distinguished with a pain in the lower part of the legs which are usually between the knees and the ankles. Achilles Tendonitis is a pain that usually occurs along the back of the leg near the heel. Plantar Fasciitis is a common form of pain that usually happens at the bottom of the heels making you feel a stabbing pain when you make your first steps in the morning.
These are just examples of the potential injuries you may encounter if you fail to include calf exercises in your daily exercise regimen. Failure to include such exercises will render you weak especially on your lower body part.
Here are some of the best calves workout that you can include in your daily workout.
1. The farmer’s walk on toes will give the benefit of strengthening the calves as well as giving balance to them.
- You may do this by holding a pair of dumbbells. Position your feet on a typical hip-width distance. Lift your heels while maintaining your shoulders down and also try to engage your core muscles. Walk forward using your toes without letting your heels touch the ground.
2. The dumbbell jump squats are very effective since it provides power during the rising part of your jump and stability during the touchdown movement.
- You may proceed with this exercise by holding a dumbbell in each hand and standing with shoulder-width distance. Squat down by pushing your hips backward until your thighs are already parallel with the ground. Make an explosive movement by straightening your legs and jump off the ground. End the procedure by gently landing on the ground with bent knees and repeat the same procedure.
3. The seated calf raise exercises are good for isolating the soleus muscles. These are inside muscles that help in flexing your foot. The other main muscle is the gastrocnemius which you can notice on highly-developed calves and they provide assistance during the knee flexion or knee bending activities.
- You may start with this exercise by seating on a chair or a bench with a pair of heavy dumbbells. Hold these heavy dumbbells on top of your knees while maintaining your feet flat on the ground. Try to engage your core muscles as you lift your heels off the ground as high as possible and then lower your heels again to the ground and repeating the same movements.
4. The standing calf raises on an elevated surface is the opposite of the previous exercise. This exercise strengthens the gastrocnemius which was mentioned previously. This exercise will also stretch both the main muscles which are the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles so that they will be effective when you use in other activities.
- Start by holding a dumbbell in either your left hand or right hand, whichever hand you prefer to start with. If you start with the right hand holding the dumbbell, you should stand with the ball of your right foot on an elevated surface and your heel hanging off while your left toes are resting on your right ankle. Proceed with engaging your core muscles and then raising your right heel as high as possible. Try to feel a stretch in your right calf as you proceed to lower your right heel downwards very slowly below the raised surface. Repeat this exercise and do it on your other leg.
5. The straight leg calf stretch against a wall is another exercise that will benefit your gastrocnemius muscle as well as improve the flexibility of your ankles.
- Start this exercise by standing on an arm’s distance away from a wall with either your right or left foot back. If you use the right foot back then you must bend your left knee frontward. Try to lean forward by pushing your hands against the wall using full force and pressing your right back heel downwards into the ground to obtain maximum stretch movements. Just make sure to make your legs straight. After a full stretch, you may switch your legs and repeat the same procedure. If you want to isolate your soleus muscles, you may try to slightly bend your back leg for a different and effective variation.
6. The standing wall calf stretch is a standing exercise this time but still using a wall as your partner. This exercise will benefit your gastrocnemius and also relieves the tension in your Achilles tendon muscles. It also acts as a stretching exercise for your plantar fascia which is the fibrous tissue in your heels. The pain that you will experience in these tissues is called plantar fasciitis.
- You may start with this exercise by standing in front of the wall again and then putting one of your foot, either your right or left foot, forward. If you use the right foot, make sure that your right heel is on the ground and the ball of your right foot is leaning against the wall. Use your hands and rest them against the wall and then gently straighten your right leg by leaning forward until you can feel a deep stretch in your calf. Make sure to feel the stretch and then repeat this procedure on your other leg.
These are just some of the recommended exercises for your calves. It is very important for our calves so that you will have effective mobility in your ankles as well as be productive with other complex leg exercises.
In addition to these exercises, a proper diet that includes amino acids, protein, carbohydrates, and a little number of supplements such as creatine and leucine will provide great benefits for obtaining muscle growth in your calves.
Do not forget to refuel after your workouts too since it will help to facilitate protein synthesis as well as speed up the recovery of your muscles thereby reducing muscle soreness too.