Spring is here, summer is coming, and warmer weather means new skirts, shorter shorts, and sexy heels. It also means that your legs will be out for the world to see—especially the lower half!
When you walk away, every guy should know what he's missing. A great calf workout will make sure that your lower legs stun stronger than the sun.
Don't just leave the gym after your last set of lunges; throw in a quick calf workout for shape! This workout is designed to define the calves, not build them.
I assume most women want to avoid the bulky, football-player look (if you are into that, I'm not judging!), so this workout is all about carving toned, tight legs.
Calf's Anatomy (The Better TV Show)
Your calves are composed of two primary muscles: the gastrocnemius and the soleus.
The gastrocnemius is the main muscle you see, especially when standing on your toes. The soleus is underneath the gastroc (you can see it in the side of your leg).
The purpose of the gastrocnemius is to elevate the heel in the standing position. The gastroc is relatively small compared to the soleus: it makes up about 40% of the total calf volume and is made primarily of fast-twitch muscle fibers.
The soleus, on the other hand, elevates the foot when you're sitting. This muscle is primarily slow twitch and makes up 60% of total calf volume.
Because of its size, the soleus will be more likely to grow and develop, producing the tone you're looking for.
Think of the soleus as the soul of your awesome calves!
Calf Rodeo Reps
Because you can hit the soleus best when you're sitting down, you'll want to include seated exercises in your calf workout. Do both double- and single-leg seated calf raises to train this muscle.
To best involve the gastroc muscle, do single- or double-leg standing calf raises. You can do them on flat ground, or off a ledge for added difficulty.
Sets and Reps
Because your soleus is made of slow-twitch fibers, it will respond best to slow reps over a long duration. Use a slower tempo pattern and perform 12-to-20 reps. Don't skimp on the weight: Your calves recover quickly and can take a heavy beating, so be sure to challenge yourself.
The gastroc is a fast-twitch muscle, so it's best targeted through explosive movements with heavy weight.
Stretch to be Supple
Calves have a tendency to tighten and cramp, especially when pumped. Some quick calf stretches at the end and throughout your calf workouts will help them stay loose.
Placing a foot up against the wall and leaning into it is one of the best ways to stretch out the calves. Or, stand off a step and let your body weight stretch your heel toward the ground. Hold each position for 20-to-30 seconds.
Uphill walking or running is excellent for toning and defining your calf muscles. Both exercises will also burn unwanted body fat.
Stair climbing (or using a comparable machine at the gym) is also excellent calf-toning cardio.
Push off on your toes, not your heels, to more directly engage your calves. If you really want to take things up a notch, try hopping up a staircase on just one leg, then switch sides and repeat. Feel the burn!
You can incorporate 20 minutes of cardio after any resistance workout, including direct calf training.