5 Dynamic Calf Exercises for Strength Building

Are you exercising your calf muscles?
According to the CDC’s National Center of Health Statistics report, only 23% of Americans get enough exercise each week. And I’m willing to wager that many who do exercise neglect their calf muscles as it’s one of the most easily overlooked muscle groups in the entire body! Scroll below to learn five dynamic calf exercises that will strengthen your lower body and propel you to better health. 

Did you know that your calf is two muscles? They’re called the upper gastrocnemius and the lower soleus. (Try saying that five times real fast.) They’re located at the back of your lower leg and join to become your Achilles tendon and attach onto your heel. During walking, running, or jumping, the calf muscle pulls the heel up to allow forward movement.  

Many physical trainers would tell you that your calf is one of the most under-trained muscles in your entire body and neglected in most strength programs. That’s too bad because calf exercises propel you forward with every single step you take. They also absorb load with each impact and support the rest of your lower limbs and body. 

Most people don’t understand or believe the importance of keeping your calf complex strong, and that’s why I’d like to share five dynamic calf exercises to introduce into your strength routine.  

Let’s take a closer look. 

Calf Raise

Start here as this is a fundamental calf exercise. You can either put your hands on your hips or use dumbbells to strengthen your arms for this exercise. Once you’re in position, lift onto your toes while squeezing your calves, hold for a second or two, and then go back down. Just make sure that you keep your shoulders back, your core tight, and your back straight.

Single-Leg Calf Raise

This works your calf muscles, but also provides a great stretch in the back of your legs. Stand on a block or step with one leg, your weight resting on the ball of your foot. Enclose your free foot around the end of the working leg. Allow your body to sink toward the floor and stretch your calf. Hold for one second and then drive the ball of your foot into the surface as you raise your heel.

Seated Calf Raise

You can perform this calf exercise with or without weights. Without weights, sit up in a chair with your feet hip-width apart and then bring your feet back behind your knees. From this position, lift your heels up off the floor, coming up onto your toes. Hold briefly, and gently lower your heels back down.

Here’s a great video showcasing the details of this exercise: 

Jumping Jacks

Yes, it’s true! Exercises as simple as the jumping jacks you did in P.E. class benefit your calves. In case you forgot, stand with your feet together and arms at your sides. Simultaneously swing your arms out to the sides and overhead as you jump your feet wider than hip-width apart. Immediately jump your feet back together, swinging your arms back down to your sides. This is 1 rep. Complete 20 reps, staying on the balls of your feet at all times.

Downward Dog with Foot Pedal

If you’re familiar with the Heart & Soul Blog, you know that we love to talk about yoga and the Downward Dog pose.

Yet did you know that the downward dog pose with a foot pedal also serves as a great calf exercise? Start standing, then bend over to touch the ground. Walk hands out into a high plank position. Spread fingers wide and press palms into the ground. Raise hips back into an inverted V position, keeping your legs straight. Bend the right knee slightly as you press into left toes to stretch the left calf. Pushing into right toes, straighten right knee to stretch right calf as you bend left knee slightly. Continue to alternately bend and straighten the knees, pedaling the feet for a total of 20 reps per side.

Once again, I want to show you just how easy it is to accomplish. Watch this short video here: 

One More Thing…

Did these calf exercises work for you? Was there something that I missed? I’d love to hear your thoughts at hello@heartandsoulblog.com. Also, please be sure to subscribe to the Heart & Soul Newsletter to receive more great tips straight to your inbox. For more great exercise tips, check out Post-Workout Stretches to Prevent Injury.

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