Exercises for the Best Calve Workout

You’ve probably seen guys in the gym with bulging quads and jacked uppers but are twigging below their knees. They clearly skimp on calves exercises during their workouts. Sometimes it can be easy for smaller muscles to become secondary. However, strong calves are key to explosiveness and power in the gym.

Cody Braun, a personal trainer who is also a NASM performance enhancement specialist, says that “your calf muscles help propel your forward and up in explosive moves.” They are great for running and plyometrics as well as any activity that requires foot propulsion or stabilization upon landing.

Tight calf muscles can restrict your ankle mobility and increase the risk of injuries like shin splints or plantar fasciitis. It is important to regularly train them and improve ankle mobility. Braun explains that the soleus and the gastrocnemius are the main muscles to work on when doing calf exercises.

If it is well developed, the gastrocnemius will be the largest muscle that you can see when you look at someone’s calves. Contrary to this, the soleus is not visible from the outside, it is located deep below the gastrocnemius.

“The gastrocnemius is responsible for jumping, acceleration, explosive speed, and force,” says William P. Kelley, CSCS. The soleus contributes to walking endurance and running endurance. Moral of the story? Make sure to target both during your calf exercises. These are eight easy, but highly effective moves.

Standing Calf Raise

You can perform standard calf raising anywhere. It strengthens your calf muscles and helps to prevent injury.

  • Place your feet flat on a hard surface, with your toes facing forward.
  • As high as possible, lift your feet off the ground.
  • Stop at the top and squeeze your calf muscles.
  • Then, slowly lower your heels down in a controlled, slow motion.
  • Repeat as desired.

Standing Calf Raise for Elevated Surface

Kelley states, “This is a great exercise for stretching and strengthening the calves (primarily gastrocnemius). It involves a full range of motion.”

  • With a dumbbell in your right hand, place your left foot on an elevated surface. Your heel should be hanging off the ground.
  • Keep your core engaged and raise your left foot as high as you can.
  • Slowly lower the heel of your foot below the surface to feel a stretch in your calves.
  • Do equal reps on both legs.

Seated Calf Raise

Kelley states that this exercise is excellent for soleus isolation.

  • Place two dumbbells on your hips and sit tall on a chair or bench.
  • Keep your core engaged and lift your heels as high as you can.
  • Slowly lower your heels to the ground and then repeat.

Kelley recommends elevating your feet with a block to increase the range of motion and strengthen your muscles while you do seated calves raise.

Farmers Walk on Toes

Kelley states that this variation of a farmer’s walk can be used to strengthen and balance the calf.

  • Place a dumbbell in each of your hands, with your feet apart.
  • Keep your shoulders back and core engaged. Lift your heels up so that you are standing on your toes.
  • Walk forward on your toes, but don’t let your heels touch any ground.

Jump Rope

Kelley states that jumping rope is a great endurance exercise for your calves and helps improve total body coordination.

  • With one hand holding the handle of a jump rope in the other, hold the rope under your head and spin it over your head.
  • Keep your core engaged, and your shoulders down.

Dumbbell Jump Squat

Braun states that this plyometric exercise draws power from the calf muscles during the jump squat’s ascension portion, and stabilization during landing.

  • Stand tall while holding a dumbbell in each of your hands.
  • Now, squat down by pushing your hips forward until your thighs meet the ground.
  • Straighten your legs and leap off the ground by doing one quick movement.
  • Lower your back to the squat position by landing softly on your bent knees.
  • Repeat.

Plyo Lunge

This explosive plyometric movement will require you to use your calf muscles and your legs.

  • Stand with your right foot about 2 to 3 feet in front. Your arms should be at your sides.
  • Keep your chest high, your back straight and your core engaged. Lower yourself into a lunge with your front thigh parallel to the floor, and your rear knee bent at 90 degrees.
  • Stand straight up, so your feet touch the ground. To maximize your power and momentum, swing your arms if necessary.
  • Switch your leg positions in the air and land softly with your left side forward.
  • Now, lower your body into a lunge and begin your next rep.
  • Keep doing this with every rep.

How to Stretch Your Calves

Kelley states that daily calf stretching is an excellent habit to develop for greater calf extensibility. “This will aid with ankle mobility and more complicated leg exercises such as the squat.”

Braun recommends foam rolling in addition to stretching if tight calf muscles restrict your ankle mobility. After a hard leg workout, aim to do both: foam rolling and stretching. This will relieve tension and allow you to recover faster.

Dog that Is Downward Looking

The classic yoga pose is great for calf stretching.

  • Start on a tabletop with your hands below your shoulders, your knees under your hips, and your elbows in front of your chest.
  • With your palms pressed into your palms, gently tuck your toes and lift your knees off of the ground. Next, extend your hips upwards by slowly extending your hips.
  • Do not lock your knees. Instead, straighten your legs so that your body forms a triangle with the ground.
  • Engage your core while you lengthen your spine, lift your hips and continue to raise your hips.
  • To increase the stretch, bend one knee to push the feet forward and the other to bend the other.

Straight-Leg Calf Stretch Against the Wall

Braun suggests that this is a great stretch to increase ankle flexibility and target your gastrocnemius.

  • Stand at arm’s length from the wall and step one foot back.
  • For a deep stretch, lean forward and push your hands against a wall. Keep your legs straight.
  • Repeat the process with both legs.
  • Try a variation that has your back bent slightly to isolate the soleus.

Standing Wall Calf Stretch

This wall stretch variant also hits your gastrocnemius. It can also relieve tension in your Achilles tendon. Kelley says it doubles as a stretch for plantar fascia, which is often a cause of heel pain.

  • Stand in front of a wall and place one foot forward. Your heel should be on the ground, while your ball of foot should be against the wall.
  • Place your hands on the wall and gently straighten your front foot. Then, lean forward until your calf feels stretched.
  • Repeat the process with both legs.

How Often Should You Exercise Your Calves?

Kelley suggests that you incorporate calf exercises into your workouts at least once a week. However, this is just a suggestion and will depend on your lifestyle and what you like to do. He explains that a distance runner might need to exercise his calves less often to avoid overtraining.

Genetics and Calf Development: What is the Role of Genetics?

Most likely, you know someone with a large, defined calf muscle, but who rarely exercises. You’ve been training your calves three days a week, but still, see very little results. What is the answer?

Kelley says genetics plays a part in the size and makeup of your muscles due to the distribution of Type I and II muscle fibers. Although Type I fibers are stronger against fatigue, they have lower growth potential than Type II muscle fibers that are “fast-twitch”.

Kelley says that everyone has different amounts of Type I and Type 2 muscle fibers. This means that someone with a genetic predisposition for Type II fibers might have greater growth potential than someone who’s more Type I dominant.

Don’t worry if your calves aren’t naturally thick and shaped. Braun states that genetic makeup does not prohibit anyone from increasing their calf strength or size. It might just take more effort. No matter where you start, a good workout routine, diet, and recovery plan will help you build stronger calves.

How to Build Bigger Calf Muscles

Smart nutrition is crucial for any goal of muscle building. You must pay more attention to what you eat if you want to grow your calf muscles. Kelley states that the proper amount of protein and amino acids, carbs for energy, as well as supplementation with creatine and leucine, can all help to grow calf muscle.

You should eat a balanced diet that includes lean protein (like fish and chicken), high-quality carbohydrates (like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), and healthy fats (like olive oil, avocado, and salmon). Keep your water intake under control. As a rule of thumb, you should drink half your body weight in ounces each day.

Supplementation can help you increase your calf-building success. Beachbody Performance Energize has beta-alanine, and quercetin, and can be used to give you an extra boost of energy prior to your calf workout. Don’t forget to replenish your energy after a workout with a post-workout drink. It is designed to promote protein synthesis and muscle growth, as well as speed up your recovery.

legal steroids


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here