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Want great-looking calves? Try these simple, effective exercises for strengthening your calf muscles.

You'll target the two muscles that make up the calf:

  • The gastrocnemius muscle, which gives the calf its rounded shape.
  • The soleus, which is the flatter, longer muscle running underneath the gastrocnemius and lower down your leg.

The Best Calf-Strengthening Exercises

Here are the four best exercises for strengthening your calves.

1. Double-Leg Calf Raise. Calf raises are the classic calf-strengthening exercise. They use your body weight to strengthen and tone the gastrocnemius and soleus.

Starting position: Stand near a wall for balance. Place your feet hip-width apart, and make sure your ankles, knees, and hips are in vertical alignment to protect your joints.

Action: Press down into the balls of both feet to raise your body upward. Keep your abdominal muscles pulled in so that you move straight upward, rather than shifting your body forward or backward.

Variations:

  • Start standing on a stair, or similar so your heels can drop lower than your toes. Keeping the balls of your feet on the stair, lower your heels as far as you can toward the floor. Then press your heels up as high as you can.
  • Add weight to add intensity. Repeat the exercise holding a dumbbell or other weight in one hand. Keep your hand on a wall for balance.

2. Single-Leg Calf Raise. You can increase the intensity of the calf raise by doing it on one leg. That way you can strengthen your calf muscle even more.

Starting position: Stand on one leg near a wall for balance with the other leg bent behind you. Be sure the ankle, knee, and hip of the leg you're working are in vertical alignment to protect the joints.

Action: Press down into the ball of your foot to raise your body upward. Keep your abdominal muscles pulled in so you avoid shifting forward or backward.

Variations:

  • Start standing on a stair or similar. Keeping the ball of your foot on the stair, let your heel drop down below the step. Then press up as high as you can.
  • Add weight to add intensity. Hold a dumbbell or other weight in one hand. Place the other hand on the wall for balance.

Running, walking, gardening – it’s all good. Regardless of what you do, regular exercise and physical activity is the path to health and well-being. Exercise burns fat, builds muscle, lowers cholesterol, eases stress and anxiety, lets us sleep restfully. In this guide, we match resources to your exercise needs -- at every fitness level.

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Stretching and Flexibility

Stretching a muscle to the full extent of your ability and holding it for 15-30 seconds is what's called a static stretch, and there's no harm in stretching that way as long you don't stretch until it hurts. But studies suggest a dynamic stretch is just as effective and sometimes better, especially before your workout.

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Tips for Success

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Winter Workouts

There are plenty of ways to be active in fall and winter, even if the weather turns cold. You can stay in shape and have fun while you're at it.

Hot Weather Workouts

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Sore Muscles? Light Exercise Can Help

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Lactic Acidosis Related to Exercise

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Head Injuries: Causes and Treatments

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Achilles Tendon Injury

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Knee Ligament Injuries: PCL, LCL, MCL, and ACL Injury

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Rotator Cuff Tear

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Workout Injuries: Prevention and Treatment

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Get Lean

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Cardio 101 Cardio 101 Cardiovascular Exercise: The Basics

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Lower Body Lower Body Video: Calf Exercises

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Fuel Your Body

Forget gimmicky diets with empty promises. For a healthy, trimmer body, get the right fuel – good nutrition, sans junk food or excess food. Build muscle, not fat.

What to Drink When You Exercise

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Expert Help

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Resources Resources Health & Fitness: Resources

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Heart Rate Calculator

Ensure you're exercising hard enough to get a good workout, but not strain your heart.

While you are exercising, you should count between...

-
Beats
PER
Seconds

Heart Rate Calculator

Ensure you're exercising hard enough to get a good workout, but not strain your heart.

While you are exercising, you should count between...

-
Beats
PER
Seconds