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Calf-Strengthening Exercises

(continued)

The Best Calf-Strengthening Exercises continued...

Action: Press slowly down into the balls of your feet to raise your heels as high as you can. Next, slowly lower your heels. Repeat.

At the gym.

Starting position: Set yourself up in the calf press machine with the balls of your feet on the platform. This will let you lower your heels toward the floor. Undo the machine's safety latch and release the weight onto your calves.

Action: Drop your heels as far as you can toward the floor to lower the weight, and then press into the balls of your feet to raise your heels as high as you can.

4. Calf-Building Sports: Taking part in the following sports will help you both strengthen and tone your calves.

Running, walking, and hiking are excellent calf-strengthening exercises, especially when you go uphill. The steeper the climb, the more your calves have to work.

Running sports such as soccer, basketball, and tennis demand that you run, jump, and push off your calf muscles to accelerate or change direction quickly. So they're great for toning calves.

Step class and other kinds of dance will work your calves every time you step up and down or bend your knees and push off going from high to low positions.

Swimming works the calves along with the rest of the legs muscles. It also avoids the impact of running or jumping. Because it's low-impact, it's also a safe way to strengthen calves if you're recovering from an injury.

If you're overweight and want the look of toned calves, you may want to add a safe weight loss program that includes diet and exercise. You can't spot-reduce any part of your body.

Safety Guidelines

Follow these guidelines so your calf-strengthening exercises are safe and effective.

  • Do the exercises consistently two or three times a week to build strength.
  • Move slowly through each exercise so you stay aware of your body alignment. Press up for a slow count of four. Then lower back down for a slow count of four.
  • Customize your exercise to match your level of fitness and avoid injury. And check with a fitness professional if you're not sure how much weight is safe for you to use. A general rule of thumb for strength training is to aim for eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise for one to three sets. Your muscles should feel fatigued, but you should be able to finish your repetitions.
  • Increase the load on the muscle gradually over time. For instance, add 10% to 15% to the weight every 2 weeks.
  • Check with your doctor first if you've had a foot, ankle, or calf muscle injury in the past. Depending on your health or physical condition, certain exercises may not be recommended.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on June 16, 2013
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