Calf Me Up!

Friday, June 17, 2016

If you have undeveloped calves, don't use genetics as an excuse to keep them that way! Regardless of their size, you can develop your calves if you include them in your regular workout. Small sized calves are harder to develop, but consistent training with exercises such as the ones below will help you see considerable changes in the gastrocnemius muscles.


The gastrocnemius muscle, otherwise known as the calf muscle, is one part of the body that is exercised most during our daily walking activity. Many people neglect to train them because they cannot be developed easily. These muscles require thorough training, especially when genetic factors are present that make their development even more complex.


Before you begin, follow the points below:


  • If you are working out alone, or if the specified number of reps doesn’t seem to do the trick for you, train with bare feet to make the calf exercises more challenging.
  • During the calf exercise, keep your feet parallel and roll them forward, not sideways.
  • Focus on the range of motion. Stretch calves all the way down and contract them all the way up.
  • Perform calf exercises slowly.
  • Stretch your calves between sets.
Seated Calf Raise
Seated Calf Raise
When you are seated with your legs at a 90 degree angle, the soleus muscle is best targeted because it can only fully contract when your legs are bent. So this exercise is primarily for the soleus muscles development; however, it also helps develop the gastrocnemius muscles. Sit with the balls of your feet on a secured (20 cm high) block with legs bent at a 90 degree angle and shoulder-width apart. As illustrated below, have your partner sit on the top of your knees (or use a well-cushioned bar bell) for extra weight. Raise your heels as high as you can until your calves are fully contracted and hold position for one or two seconds; then lower your heels as far down as you can until calves are fully stretched. Do 4 sets of 10 repetitions each.
Donkey Calf Raise
Donkey Calf Raise
This exercise is excellent for developing the gastrocnemius muscles; it also helps in working on the soleus muscles as a secondary target. You can perform it alone or with a partner as illustrated on this page. Use your partner's body weight to make it more challenging, and make sure the person sitting on your back is comfortable and competent in performing this exercise. Another alternative to sitting crossed legged is to have the legs hanging downward. On a secure block, stand on the balls of your feet. With your legs straight and shoulder-width apart, bend over until your upper body is parallel to the floor. Set your hands on an object that can support your body weight. Have your partner sit on your hips. Lower your heels as far down as you can until your calves are fully stretched. Hold the position for one or two seconds, and then raise your heels as high as you can until your calves are fully contracted. Hold position for one or two seconds. Do 4 sets of 20 repetitions each.
Calf & Tibia Stretch
Calf & Tibia Stretch
Perform this exercise to stretch your gastrocnemius and tibia muscles between sets; it will give the muscles enough time to recover before your next set. Alternate with your partner and enjoy it. Lie down on your back with your body straight and feet pointing upwards. Have your partner hold your feet and stretch them gently towards the tibia; then allow him/her to reverse the stretch by pulling them down towards him/her. Refer to the illustrated photos.
Tibia Raises
Tibia Raises

Tibia muscles run up the front of the shin and contract when you pull your foot and toes upwards. Exercising them will add a nice looking touch to the overall shape of your legs. Lie down on the floor with bent knees and rest your arms by your sides. Press your heels firmly down; contract the tibialis muscles and raise your feet and toes off the floor as high as you can. Hold for one or two seconds, and then lower them all the way down without letting your toes touch the ground. Have your partner press on your feet throughout the exercise for additional weight. Do 4 sets of 20 repetitions each.

Contraction of leg muscles, such as when you stand on your tiptoes, stand on the heels, or take a step, compresses the vein and pushes the blood back to your heart and the upper body. It is an act we do so often that we hardly think about it. People who are immobilized through injury or disease lack these contractions of leg muscles. As a result, their blood return is slower and they may develop circulation problems.

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