With so much emphasis placed on the butt and thighs, it’s easy to overlook the calf muscles. But given just how much we put our lower bodies through, this is never a good idea; weak, tight, or shortened calves are an easy doorway to injury and chronic issues like plantar fasciitis. These calf exercises will help prevent injury while also sculpting and strengthening your lower body for the better.

Wide Squat With Calf Raise

If there was ever a calf-burning move, this is it. Added bonus: you’ll also feel it in your butt and thighs.

• Stand with your feet about three to four feet apart, toes turned out. Bring your hands together in front of your chest, and squat down so your thighs are parallel with the floor, knees over the ankles.
• Raise your left heel off the floor, and begin to pulse the hips up and down, isolating the left calf.
• Continue pulsing for 30 seconds, and then switch sides to complete this exercise.

Jump Squats

Adding a jump to a basic squats will help work the calves (and quads) even more.

• Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
• Start by doing a regular squat, then engage your core and jump up explosively.
• When you land, lower your body back into the squat position to complete one rep. Land as quietly as possible, which requires control.
• Do two to three sets of 10 reps.

Single-Leg Touch and Hop

Hopping side to side helps condition the calf and ankle muscles for stability when making quick lateral direction changes.

• Begin standing with your weight on your left foot. Keeping your back long, bend your left knee to touch the floor with your right fingers.
• Swing your right leg and left arm forward to return to standing, hopping once the torso is upright. Land with control, then slowly lower your torso, and bend your knee to touch the floor again.
• Do two sets of 10 reps.

Basic Calf Raises

Raising the heels destabilizes your ankle joints. Not only are you strengthening your calves with this exercise, but you’re also challenging the muscles that support the ankle joint.

• Position your feet hip-width apart.
• Slowly raise your heels until you’re on your tiptoes, then slowly lower back down to the ground. Take three slow counts to raise and lower your heels.
• Do 20 reps.

Calf Raises With External Rotation

Changing the angle of the feet by rotating the legs outward challenges different muscles of the lower leg than working in parallel. This position will work your arch of your foot more too, and a strong arch helps prevent the ankle from rolling inward.

• Position your feet hip-width apart, then externally rotate your thighs to turn your toes outward at about a 45-degree angle.
• Slowly raise your heels until you’re on your tiptoes, then lower back down to the ground. Take three slow counts to raise and lower your heels.
• Do 20 reps.

Calf Raises With Internal Rotation

Once again, the different foot position will challenge different parts of the lower leg and feet.

• Position your feet hip-width apart, then by rotating at your hip joints turn your toes inward so they are almost touching.
• Slowly raise your heels until you’re on your tiptoes, then lower back down to the ground. Take three slow counts to raise and lower your heels.
• Do 20 reps.

Wall Calf Stretch

After running through these exercises, be sure to give your calves some love with a little stretching action. This is a classic calf stretch that you can do just about anywhere.

• Stand a little less than arm’s distance from the wall.
• Step your left leg forward and your right leg back, keeping your feet parallel.
• Bend your left knee and press through your right heel.
• Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and switch legs.

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©2018 Jari Love. All Rights Reserved.

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