Calf raises are a simple and effective exercise to strengthen your gastrocnemius and soleus, which are known as your calf muscles.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Calf raises are an exercise that you can do at home, outside, or at the gym. There are many variations, making it a versatile and effective exercise.
While they’re commonly ignored when it comes to workout routines, your calves play a big role in daily life. You use them when you walk, run, or jump.
It’s important to strengthen them because they’ll give you better ankle stability, which is beneficial for injury prevention.
When you strengthen your calf muscles, you’ll be able to run faster, jump higher, have more endurance, and better balance.
Another benefit is that it increases your mobility, which is especially important with aging. According to the Journal of Applied Physiology, calf raises have proven to protect against mobility loss.
If you aren’t currently working out your calves, it’s time to start. There are many benefits, and it’ll also lead to toned calves.
How to do calf raises
If you’re new to exercising your calves, there are two common ways to start. You can do standing calf raises with both legs or one leg at a time.
Doing one leg at a time requires slightly more strength and balance. However, start with what you’re comfortable with. Take the following steps to do standing calf raises:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Raise your heels and pause at the top for one second.
- Take three seconds to lower your heels back to the ground.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 for 10 to 15 reps.
- Do 2 to 3 sets.
As you strengthen your calf muscles, you’ll be able to do more sets and reps. When you’re doing calf raises, the key is to go down slowly. Instead of focusing on increasing your speed, focus on your form and feeling each rep.
Also, pay attention to your ankles. Make sure you keep them firm because they can get injured if they roll while you’re doing calf raises. If you’re not able to balance well, stand near a wall for support.
Once you’re finished doing calf raises, be sure to stretch. Spend a few minutes stretching your calves to increase your flexibility and prevent cramping. Let’s face it, calf cramps are painful.
If you’ve strengthened your calves to a point where bodyweight standing calf raises are easy, you’re ready to take it to the next level. For more of a challenge, you can do one of the following variations:
- Standing calf raises on a step, which allows your heel to go down lower.
- Use a barbell to add weight.
- Hold dumbbells while doing calf raises.
- Use a seated or standing calf raise machine at the gym.
- Do box jumps (not a calf raise, but very effective).
Whether it’s adding more weight or doing more reps, there are many ways to make it more challenging.
Start incorporating calf raises into your workout routine for toned calves, better balance, stability, and mobility. There are several variations that you can do based on the current strength of your calves and ankles. Remember, focus on slowly going back down when you’re doing calf raises.
Featured image courtesy of Canva.
About David Em
David Em is the founder of Next Level Gents, the ultimate destination for tips and advice about style, grooming, fitness, and success.