Your calf muscles are found in the lower area of your legs and are often deficient in exercise routines where emphasis is placed on exercises for the larger leg muscles eg squats and lunges. By performing this great exercise, not only will your calves look toned but this exercise will help to strengthen the ankle area so it's an important one to include in your routine.
You will have already worked your thighs and your bum muscles when performing the squat and lunge routines that I have provided in previous articles so this is yet another great exercise to add to your repertoire!
Initially you do not require any equipment for this although dumbbells can be included once you have mastered the basic level.
-Stand on the first step of a staircase with the balls of your feet at the edge of the step. Position the rest of your feet so they are off the step. Feet should be shoulder width apart and your toes pointing forward.
-To help you balance you can place a hand on a supporting wall or banister, anything that's solid enough to keep you from falling over. As you get more comfortable and confident with the exercise you can try performing it without support.
-Slowly let your heel drop as far as you comfortably can, this is your starting position.
-Keep your knees straight but not locked. Rise up onto the balls of your feet as far as you can.
-Pause at the top of this movement and slowly return to the start position. Congratulations you have just performed 1 repetition of a calf raise!
-It's important that you keep your knees straight (but not locked) during the exercise otherwise you start to use the larger muscles of the legs such as the thigh muscles which will result in less work for the calves.
-Aim to perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
-To increase the intensity of the workout you can perform the exercise with a set of dumbbells in each hand.
-Make sure that you comfortable with your balancing before you proceed. Variations
-To target the inside area of your calves, place your feet farther apart that shoulder width and lift up onto the inside balls of your feet.
-If you need to target the outside area, place your feet in close and lift up on the outside balls of your feet.
-Keep your toes pointing forward otherwise you'll be putting extra stresses on your knees.
One Legged Calf Raises
This is a great variation to perform and increases the intensity of the exercise even further.
Simply follow the instructions that I have already given in section titled 'The Method' except you hook your right ankle around your left to perform the reps, then swap legs and carry out the same number of reps.