Why should you work your calves?
Balance and correct proportions are staples of an attractive figure. You may have seen how people who tend to skip leg days have buffed upper body but thin and weak leg muscles. Such figures look disproportionately developed, and therefore a bit cartoonish and comic. And the same goes for separate parts of the body. So, if you want to have nice-looking toned legs, you need to perform calf exercises along with exercises that target your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, which are slightly more popular among fitness enthusiasts. Calf exercises will not only promote more balanced muscle development but also help you burn calories, improve your leg strength, and boost your calf flexibility.
If you are interested in paying more attention to your calves, then the calf exercises presented in this article will make a great contribution to your workout routine.
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Which muscles are involved in the performance of calf exercises?
To be able to get all from your calf exercises and to successfully adjust or modify them, you need to understand how they work and what muscles they target. Your calves consist of two major muscles: the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle. The gastrocnemius muscle is responsible for the rounded shape of your calf. The soleus muscle is located at the back of the lower leg and is mainly used for pushing off the ground while walking and running. It also helps maintain posture. Therefore, by working your calves, you are strengthening these two muscles, improving your explosive power, and promoting a better posture.
What exercises are best for your calves?
Now that you know what muscles you should work and what calf exercises can offer you, it is time to get a closer look at the exercises. So, without further ado, here are the best exercises to tone and strengthen your calves:
This exercise is a full-body workout and is often used as a part of a warm-up. What you may have not known is that jumping jacks are extremely effective at working your calves. To perform a jumping jack, stand straight with your arms at the sides and your feet together. Jump, lifting your hands and clapping overhead, and landing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Now jump again, lowering your arms back down and landing on your feet together.
Single calf raises
This weight exercise will set your calves on fire. To perform a single calf raise, you will need a dumbbell and a weight plate. Sit down on a bench and place your toes on a weight plate. Now place a dumbbell on your right knee, holding it with your right hand. Hold its top with your left hand. Then lift your toes as high as you can and make a pause. Get back to the starting position. That is one rep. Make sure that you work your both legs equally, so after you perform the required number of reps with your right leg, perform the same number of reps with your left leg.
Single-leg calf raise
This exercise will significantly strengthen your legs while making a greater emphasis on your calf muscles. To perform a single-leg calf raise, stand on a step with your left leg while keeping your right leg lifted off the floor. Make your body sink towards the floor and start carefully stretching your calf. Then, make a 1-second pause and raise your heel. After that, make a 2-second pause. That is one rep.
This is one of the simplest exercises there is, yet it works quite well at toning your calves. To perform a tiptoe walk, stand on your tiptoes by redistributing your weight onto your forefeet and lifting your heels off the floor. Then, start walking. If you want to fully activate your muscles, perform this exercise barefoot.
This dynamic exercise is a great workout for your whole legs and calves in particular. To perform a box jump, stand in front of a box at a comfortable distance, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down into a quarter squat, swing your arms, and push yourself off the floor. Safely and softly land on a box by engaging your core and leg muscles. Step off the box to finish 1 rep of this exercise and return to the initial position.
There also are other calf exercises that can help you reach your goal, so you can choose whichever you like best and include them in your workout routine. As you can see, among the above-presented calf exercises, some require no equipment. There are also some that need dumbbells, blocks, or a weight plate to perform. If you don’t have them, you can replace them to work out at home. For example, you can use a water bottle instead of a dumbbell.
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Calf exercises are not the only way of toning your calves. There are many other methods of sculpting the calves of your dreams, such as regular walking, running, hiking, and others. These workouts will not only strengthen your calves naturally but will also help you slim down and improve your overall health. Another workout that works your calves and improves your cardiovascular health is jumping rope. You can also try step class, basketball, tennis, and other sports that involve running and jumping.
There are lots of exercises and workouts that can help you work your calves and improve your overall strength and wellness. However, you should remember that to gain muscles healthily, you need to eat smart and banish unhealthy habits. Make sure to reduce stress levels and get enough high-quality sleep. Such simple adjustments will significantly improve your wellness and help you reach your goals.