You work out your biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, back, and legs, but what about your calves? Most people don’t think to work out their calves, but chiseled calves certainly up the hotness factor for your legs, especially during summer when shorts and tanks are the apparel du jour.
Now, you might be thinking that calves, whether they’re killer or not, rely predominately on genetics. To some extent, for some people, that’s true. Still, it’s better to work on your calves and see where that training goes! Who knows? Maybe you’ve got the genetics to have super sexy calves and you just didn’t know it.
Calves naturally get worked when you walk, run, go up a flight of stairs or stand on your tippy-toes. But, that’s not enough to get the shapely look that will make your legs go from a seven to a 10. Here are some calf-boosting tips to consider. If you want extra killer calves, work them out at least twice a week and try three or more of these tips each time!
Standing Calf Raises
Basically, a calf raise is when you stand on your feet and raise up to your toes (heels off the ground). But, you can get really creative with calf raises. You can do them every time you’re brushing your teeth or standing in line somewhere. You can grab a barbell and put it across your shoulders and do calf raises. You can place the balls of your feet on the edge of a step and then lower your heels and raise up as far as you can. Or, at the gym, they have a nifty calf raising machine where the weight is supported by your shoulders as you lower your heels and then raise up on your toes. Typically three sets of 15-20 ought to do it for this exercise. If that’s too easy, add more weight. Just don’t overdo it. You never want to injure your muscles!
Seated Calf Raises
Most gyms have a seated calf raise machine. Just position yourself so that your heels are hanging off the ledge and the weight is across the top of your legs, closest to your knees. Push up until your heels are as high as can go and really flex those calf muscles at the top of the movement. Lower down until your heels are below the ledge and then push back up again. Again, three sets of 15-20 should work for you.
When you jump, you naturally raise onto your toes to give yourself that extra push-off to get up in the air. You could just stand and jump or you could take it up a notch (and work out other legs muscles in the process) by doing jumping squats. For a jumping squat, sink into a squat position (knees at a 90-degree angle) and then blast upwards (try three sets of 20). Or, you could jump rope. Start with five minutes and increase your time as necessary.
StairMaster on Your Toes
If you’ve never used a stair-stepping machine at the gym, then you don’t know what a great cardio workout you’re missing. But, do the stair stepper on your toes, with your heels off the end of the steps, and your calves are going to thank you. Well, they might scream at you first, but the definition you get will make all the temporary pain worthwhile.
Dancers have great legs, especially ballerinas who are constantly balancing on their big toes. Barre classes and other dance classes have become increasingly popular. Try a local dance class at your community recreation center, your gym, or get a DVD and dance at home.
Ever seen and envied a cyclist’s razor-cut calves? All that pedaling, especially up hills, really shapes your calves. Get on a bicycle or stationary bike and focus on your calf muscles as you pedal. Picture and feel them working with each push of the pedal. And, don’t be afraid to tackle those hills. You may have to stand up on your bike to get up some of those hills, but that will work your calf muscles even more!