Calf muscles are absolutely integral in our daily lives and should be treated with lots of care and caution when involving them in exercises.
Because of how important they are to us, it's no surprise that there are lots of different exercises shaped and molded around the muscles.
With these routines, you're able to increase the quality and the sizes of these muscles whilst enjoying a healthy workout.
Follow the rest of our guide for ideas on different calf exercises, some sporting activities that give these muscles a good workout, and different stretches to make sure that you don't suffer any injuries.
What Are The Calf Muscles?
If you don't know where these muscles are located, or what they do, then this is probably because you've never really given them much thought before.
They lie on either side of your leg just below your knee, and they help support your foot and ankle during walking and running.
If you run regularly, you'll find that these muscles get quite sore as a result, but they can also be used by people who like to play sports such as volleyball or tennis.
The muscle itself isn't very large compared to the rest of the body, but it does have an enormous amount of strength and mass.
It's actually so strong that it can even lift your entire body off the ground if you're standing up straight. This is how important they are to us.
Why Stretching Your Calves Is Important
Stretching your calves will not only allow them to relax and loosen up after working out, but it can also prevent injury from occurring when you start running again.
After all, you need to stretch those muscles so that they don't become tight and inflexible.
You might think that stretching your calves means lying down and putting your legs up, however, this isn't necessary and could cause more problems than it solves.
Instead, try using your hands or feet to gently massage your calves.
This helps the blood flow through your muscles and ensures that they stay flexible throughout the day.
There are several other benefits to stretching your calves too. When you exercise these muscles, it makes them stronger.
As you stretch them further, you limit the potential injuries that can occur.
Different Calf Exercises
This is one of the best calf exercises to perform. Calf dips are great for toning your calves and building up their strength.
Stand up tall and place both hands on a bench behind you. Then, slowly lower yourself into a sitting position, hovering above the floor.
Make sure that your legs are straight, and your body is at a right angle, with a straight back. Use the bench as a tool and dip keeping your calves straight.
This is a great exercise as it does not require any gym equipment and can basically be done anywhere. There are also other ways on how to do dips at home for serious gains, which is also great for your arms and your hamstrings.
Standing Leg Raises
These are another excellent way of exercising your calves. To begin with, stand up straight and hold onto something that won't move.
Next, raise each of your legs until they're completely vertical with your knees bent. Hold this position for about 30 seconds.
Repeat this five times on each leg. These exercises are great for increasing flexibility and strengthening your calves.
Aside from strengthening the calf muscles, lunges are also a popular option for strengthening the muscles around your knee, making it a great exercise for stiff knee after surgery. Just make sure that you don't overdo it, and that it is performed correctly.
To do lunges, firstly, take two steps forward and bend your left knee slightly. Place your right foot directly over your left.
Lean forwards, holding your weight on the front part of your right foot. Keep your hips level and keep moving your torso backward.
Slowly bring your left leg back to its original position, making sure that you take your time to watch your technique and your form.
Wall Squat Stretch
Another simple way to stretch out your calves is to use a wall for assistance. Sit facing away from a wall and put your heels against it.
Bend your knees slightly and lean forward until you feel comfortable. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, then stand up straight and repeat a few times.
Squats are one of the most popular things to do when it comes to testing out the strengths of your hamstrings and your calf muscles.
Make sure that you take your time with these and make sure your technique is on point.
When you've built up a bit of leg muscle, you can always involve some weights for a bit of an extra challenge.
Standing Side Leg Raise
Another excellent calf exercise is the standing side leg raise. Start by standing facing away from a wall with your legs slightly apart.
Put your left hand on the wall while your right-hand rests on your hip. Slowly raise your left leg until you feel comfortable.
Hold it in this position for four seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
This challenge isn't for the faint-hearted! Start in a push-up position and bring your feet up to a squatting position under your chest.
From this point spring your legs up and jump into the air, landing on your feet.
Once you've landed, return to the position with your legs underneath yourself, with your hands on the floor, and then reverse back to the original push-up position.
Another way to work out your calves is to stretch them using your hamstring muscles. Sit up against a wall and lean forward until you feel comfortable.
Now, bend your knees, place your heels on the floor, and raise your upper body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Hold this position for five seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat this three times.
Jump Rope Exercise
You can use a jump rope to strengthen your calves. Start by jumping over the rope, which will force your body to move upwards.
Repeat this as many times as you like and ensure that you keep up the pace as much as you can.
The more jumps and the faster you conduct this exercise, the more growth you're likely to find in your calves and your hamstrings.
How To Stretch Your Calf Muscles
If you want to get fit, there's no better place than at home. If you have a gym membership, you'll be able to go there and work out whenever you want.
However, if you don't have access to a gym, there are still plenty of ways to stay active and healthy.
Here we look at how to stretch your calves properly so that they remain strong and flexible.
The Benefits Of Stretching
Stretching helps improve flexibility, but it also improves blood flow.
This means that your muscles receive more oxygen and nutrients, which allows them to grow stronger.
It also reduces the risk of injury, because stretching makes your joints less stiff and helps the blood and lactic acid to flow without causing any stiffness or pain.
On top of this, stretching increases circulation, which helps prevent varicose veins and other problems.
In addition, stretching exercises help increase bone density, which can reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
Finally, stretching can help people who suffer from arthritis and gout.
What You Need To Do
To start off, sit down on a chair or sofa and put both of your feet flat on the ground.
Next, take hold of one foot and gently pull it towards your opposite knee. Keep pulling until you reach the end of the muscle, then let go and repeat the process on the other leg.
Next, try some lunges to ensure that your calves and your hamstrings are ready for a workout.
By making sure that your legs are working properly, you limit the risk of injury and muscle strain so that you don't suffer any pain or uncomfortableness.
Sporting Exercises That Are Good For Calf Muscles
There are plenty of sporting activities that you can do to make sure that your calf muscles are strong enough to support you during your chosen sport.
As an example, running and cycling require a lot of strength and resilience in your calves and hamstrings alike.
When you run, you need to ensure that your calves are strong enough to provide support for your lower legs.
When you run, your calves should be straightened and pulled back.
Make sure that you keep your toes pointed forwards when you run, otherwise, you could injure your ankles.
Cycling is another activity that requires you to build up strong calves. To begin with, stand upright with your arms folded across your chest.
Then, slowly lift your right leg behind you, while keeping your left leg firmly planted on the floor. Once you've done this, switch sides and repeat the same movement.
This is not only good for building up your calves, but it also works your glutes and quads.
So, you won't just develop your calves, but you'll also benefit yourself in terms of overall fitness.
In conclusion, there are lots of different calf exercises that will provide you with a good workout experience that ensures your calves are getting the right attention that they need to grow.
However, if you're looking for something simple, then you might want to consider doing some stretches as well or using some machines in your local gym.
At first, you need to ensure that you're focusing on your technique and your form to ensure that you're not going to injure yourself in the long run and make sure that you're comfortable with the exercises.
Later on, you can include some weights and increase the workload to keep yourself progressing. Always stop if you feel like you're doing too much.
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