Strength Exercises that Build Killer Calves
Calf muscles can be difficult to develop for a couple of reasons. One reason is because of the individual’s genetics. Some people are built with very lean muscles that take a great deal of work to get them to grow. The other reason is because calf muscles are basically programmed into a certain state due to our using them to walk our entire lives. It can take a great deal of intense training to get them to respond.
The two main muscles groups which are developed through calf exercises are the soleus which is a flat, wide muscle that lays against the bone and the gastrocnemius, which consists of two larger bulging muscles which are located on top of the soleus. Both groups of muscles are used to bend the feet and toes. However, the soleus requires a bend of at least 30 degrees before it can be completely contracted.
Since calve muscles are strong and dense, they respond best to first performing high reps and then low reps. Therefore, begin by completing at least 15 reps for one set and then 5-10 reps for another set of the following calf exercises. You will do 2 sets of each for a total of 4 sets.
Leg Calf Raises
This calf exercise will strengthen the gastrocnemius muscles.
While holding onto something to maintain balance, step onto a calf block, or some object which allows you to extend down for a full range when on the balls of your feet, and allow your heels to hang off the edge. Keeping your legs straight, slowly lower yourself down as far as possible. Hold this position for a moment and then slowly raise back up as high as you can while on the balls of your feet and toes. Hold for a moment and repeat.
You can also perform this exercise on one leg to further develop your calf muscles individually as you will be placing your total body weight on one calf at a time.
Donkey Calf Raises
This exercise primarily works the gastrocnemius muscles and secondarily the soleus muscles.
Stand on a raised block with the balls of your feet and your legs spread shoulder width apart. Bend over to form a 90° angle, resting your hands on a weight bench or chair. A training partner will then sit on your hips like they’re riding a donkey. Lower yourself down as far as you can and hold for a moment. Slowly lift yourself back up and as high as you can on the balls of your feet and toes. Hold a moment and repeat.
Standing Calf Raises
This is one of the common calf exercises for developing the gastrocnemius muscles which utilizes a weighted machine designed specifically for calf workouts. This exercise can be done with both legs or only one leg. Also, if you don’t have access to a machine, you can do this calf exercise with a weighted barbell held across your shoulders.
Add the desired amount of weight to the calf raise machine. Step onto the foot block, place your head between the shoulder pads and secure your shoulders under the pads. With the balls of your feet on the block, straighten your legs up as far as you can and hold for a moment. Then slowly lower your legs down as far as you can and hold. Repeat.
Seated Calf Raises
This is another calf exercise machine designed for primarily working out the soleus muscles of the leg while providing secondary stress to the gastrocnemius muscles. If you do not have access to a machine, you can complete this exercise by sitting on a weight bench with a weighted barbell laid across your knees. You should wrap the barbell in a towel for comfort.
Add the desired amount of weight to the calf exercise machine. Sit on the machine and situate your knees so they are secure and comfortable against the knee pads. With the balls of your feet on the foot block, raise your legs as far as you can on the balls of your feet and toes. Hold for a moment and slowly lower your heels down as far as possible. Hold for a moment and repeat.
Add these calf exercises into your weight training program and you will have killer calves to balance out the ripped look of your lower body.
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