Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Calf Muscles - Small but Important Muscles

Your calf muscles’ role is elevating your heel and flexing your knee.  These motions are involved in walking, running, and jumping.  The calf muscles are also the heart of circulation in your legs (pumping blood throughout the leg).  

Calf muscles are recruited in all the compound moves that we have discussed earlier in this blog.   However, they are also the most stubborn muscles to grow and strengthen.   Therefore, you might want to give them some additional attention.   

A couple of simple exercises you can do at home (or office) will help develop your calves.   (I advise doing all calf raises without shoes to isolate the muscle more directly.)    Standing calf raises can be performed on a step.    Stand on a step on the balls of your feet.    Stretch down with your heels, down as far as possible in a good stretch.  Keep your knees straight and stiff but not locked.   Rise up onto the balls of your feet (think about pushing up with your big toe) and squeeze, moving only at the ankles.   Lower down controlled into the deep stretch at bottom.  That is one rep.   Do not bend and straighten the legs as that will work the quads and take away from the calves.   Only hold on for balance minimally.     You can do both legs at same time or an incredible move is the single legged version.    Use 3 variations of feet placement.  Start with straight, toes slightly outward and toes slightly inward.  This will work the calves at all angles.    Use your bodyweight initially and get at least 15 reps in.   Remember SLOW and controlled.  In time, you can add some weight by holding weight in one hand as you steady yourself with the other hand. 

Seated calf raises can be done in the same manner but sitting on a chair or bench and your feet up on books, wood, etc.  Same concepts apply as standing but again you are working them at a different angle.    With the seated version, you can add weight to the top of your knees to add more intensity to the move.    When I fly for work, i sit in my seat on plane and I do seated calf raises.    I put my feet up on my brief case so I can get the bottom stretch and I do high rep calf raises (since I do not have added weight and I need more intensity – it is ok this circumstance to do high reps).

Interested in a classic exercise for calves?   Walk on your tiptoes.    Seriously, feel the burn in your calves…….

Stay tuned……..

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