Building thick, powerful and muscular legs is a long-cherished dream of anyone who wants to have perfect body. You need to ensure the right calf gain not only for aesthetic reasons but also to provide the right support to your body.
So, if it is mission calf gain and strong legs for you, you have come to the right place! Tell me what you would rather have, a muscular body with chicken legs? Or a strong muscular body with diamond calves to match? This is a no-brainer, right?! So, ignoring your calves aren’t going to do you any good!
The Framework of your Calf Muscle
To build powerful legs, you need to understand the anatomy of your calf muscles. The calf muscle is a group of muscles that are clumped together into a large group, just below the knee. This group is constituted of 3 muscles that come together to form the calf muscles.
- Gastrocnemius- This calf muscle can be viewed from the outside. This muscle is linked to the Achilles tendon and starts from just behind the knee on the femur where it crosses the knee joint.
- Soleus- This is a deep muscle that is not visible externally. It is located in the rear portion of the leg, beneath the gastrocnemius.
The chief function of the two muscles together is to elevate the heel when the leg is straight and also when the knee is bent. This action of bending the heel can be used in a number of movements, such as walking, jumping, squats, running, and so on.
- The tribalis anterior- There is a third muscle which helps you for walking up slopes and other activities that make the toes go higher than the heel. A well-developed tribalisanterior can make the lower legs high on mass and less bony. It stabilizes your body, making it ready for other exercises.
Best Workouts for Calf Gain – The Most Effective Exercises
Just about any exercise cannot work your calf muscles, you have to target the specific muscle group to work it in a number of ways. These top 10 targeted calf exercises for the calf muscles can help you form a balanced workout with the help of other exercises so that you are able to maintain the physical tone of your body.
You do not need to use weights for some of these exercises and for some of the others you do need to use them to provide some stiff resistance.
1. Standing Calf Raises
This exercise can be easily done with a dedicated machine or a calf block. You can increase or decrease the number of reps, depending on your current state of the calf and also your present workout routine. The number of reps you do for this exercise will vary depending on your current calf mass and workout routine.
To do it right
- Stand right under the machine pads or bar and place the ball of your feet on the calf block.
- Keep your heels low and start with approximately 2 to 4 inches below the block. This will stretch your calves to the furthest.
- Then, raise yourself up slowly balancing on the balls of your feet and reach as high as possible and then contract your calf muscles when you reach the peak.
- Hold the position for a few moments and lower under control to start again.
2. Donkey Calf Raise (Straight leg)
This is a great exercise that can help build the mass and width of the calf muscles. You can do as many as 12-15 reps for best results. It works the Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles.
To do it Right
- Bend over and form an L with your upper and lower body, and place the balls of your feet on a raised platform.
- You can have a couple of people to sit on your back, then raise your legs from the balls of your feet, and contract the muscles holding the pose for one to seconds.
- Begin the exercise again trying to get a full stretch when you lower your heels.
3. Top Calf Exercise – Box Jumps
If you are someone who is into heavy duty exercising, you will know how important it is to build the strength of your legs, the explosive strength we so often talk about. The box jump can aid you in attaining that strength and in a way helps you to bid a goodbye to scrawny legs. So, you get the power and the strength. This exercise can help train your muscles to react and contract and add that much-needed tone to your legs.
To do it right
- Stand straight with your feet resting on their balls and keepyour toes in front of a box, with the right height, so you can jump well.
- Jump hard onto the box and then jump back again to land on your toes and the balls of your feet.
- Repeat the procedure for 8 to 10 reps. Skip the dumbbells as you need to keep your hands free during this exercise so that you don’t trip and fall and your hands aid you with the momentum.
4. Dumbbell Jump Squat
This workout perhaps does not work the upper leg muscles but focuses on the calf muscles and can be an integral part a whole-body workout. The dumbbell jump squat is an explosive workout much like the box jumps. This is a particularly effective workout that increases mass, amps the metabolism and ensures optimal calf gain.
To do it right
- Drop into a traditional squat and move to the balls of your feet and toes as you move down.
- Once you reach the lowest point, jump yourself up and explosively. Land light on the balls of your feet and move into another squat. You can use dumbbells for this exercise to increase the difficulty level,but they’re effective as they provide a lower center of gravity and help you find a more central core of your balance.
5. Seated Calf Raise
This exercise can be done both at home and at the gym on a calf exercise machine. The exercise works two muscles, gastrocnemius and soleus.
To do it right
- Find a firm sturdy chair and put your feet flat on the floor.
- Place your knees directly over your feet.
- Keep your knees steady and lean forward, keep your hands on thighs, and as you do so near knees push it down to add resistance and raise the difficulty levels.
- Raise your heels as high as possible and press slowly down into the balls of your feet. Then,slowly lower your heels. Repeat the drill.
6. Leg Press Machine
Another way of activating your gastrocnemius muscle is to perform your calf raises on a leg press machine. This offers the required resistance and is regarded as one of the best calf exercises.
To do it right
- Stay put on the leg press machine, keep the sled in place and use the balls of your feet and your toes.
- Keep your hips and knees still, all your movement should come from your ankles.
- Apply the basic technique, which is a slow 3-4 second negative with a controlled positive, afull range of motion and press the sled with the help of your big toe to activate the gastrocnemius muscle.
7. Jump Rope
You perhaps did not think that skipping rope will be able to condition your calves or fortify your ankles and also help you build the agility and power of your lower body; but jump rope is not just the cardio routine which you had so much fun doing in your childhood! It is one of the best calf workouts to build those badass legs.
Do it right
It isn’t rocket science, just that you have to alternate 30 seconds of work with 30 seconds of rest, which constitutes 1 round; do about 10 to 20.
Also, if you get bored of regular stuff try to bring variety to it by running in place or alternating legs.
8. Lunge Pulses
Lunge pulses help tone the soleus muscle. This muscle can contract fully at a 30-degree angle. So, if you thought that lunges are great for your legs, well, you thought right, only that your calves love them too!
To do it right
- Stand with your feet together and keep your arms by your sides.
- Take astep forward into a lunge with your right foot. Bend your right leg at 90 degrees at the knee and push your left leg behind you, knee bent.
- At this position, pulse up to enable your left leg to be straight.
- Bend forward to complete one round.
- Pulse up and downatleast 15 times on either side.
- This helps develop your soleus muscle.
9. Mountain Climbers
This is not only one of the best calf exercises, but also a total leg strengthened. It is the explosive jumping movement that strengthens your calves.
To do it right
- Move into apush-up
- Slightly bend your right knee and bring your right foot between your hands, the foot should remain firmly on the floor.
- Keep your hands in push-up position and switch your legs, straightening one leg out behind you and pushing the other leg up between your knees.
- Repeat this movement as fast as you can and keep at it for 1 minute.
Don’t forget to stretch your legs, a proper warm up followed with a cool-down is an integral part of any exercise regime and another thing which works in its favor is that it prevents injuries. It keeps your muscle fibers elastic.
To do it right
- Find a towel or a flexibility band.
- Sit on the ground with your legs stretched out in front of you.
- Keep the band looped over your flexed feet and pull back.
Things to Remember Before you Begin your Calf Muscle Exercises
You have to remember that genes do play an important role in the development of your calf muscles. These guidelines are important and help you stay safe when you do these workouts for calf gain.
- Do the exercises at least two or three times a week consistently to build strength.
- Don’t do jerky movements, move slowly during the course of each exercise so you are aware of your body alignment. Move up for a slow count of two to four.
- Moveback down for a slower count of four.
- Do your workouts in a way that it matches your current fitness levels and to prevent injuries.
- It always helps to ask a fitness professionalif you are not too sure how much weight is safe for you to use.
- An easy rule to remember when you go for strength training is to aim for atleast eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise for one to three sets.
- Your muscles may feel the effect and get tired but you will be able to complete the repetitions.
- You can increase the load on the muscles slowly as you get As you go, add 10% to 15% to the weight every 2 weeks.
- But if you had any injury in the past, especially in your foot, ankle or calf muscle, you may be barred from doing certain exercises, so it is imperative to check with your doctor and then go ahead if he/she gives his consent.
So, if you don’t yet have the calves you can be proud of and don’t have calf-worthy genetics, don’t worry, a proper nutrition plan coupled with the right exercise regime can give you totally drool-worthy calves.
Yes, you have to be consistent and determined to make it a reality, it just reminds me of the matinee idol who was a brawny king but sadly with no calves to speak of! But with years of hard work now he never forgets to flaunt his defined and muscular calves. What a transformation! Well, if he can, so can you, are you willing to give it a try?