The calf is a very difficult muscle group. Harder than you can imagine. But even if it is difficult to work the calves, by their nature, you must show them who the boss is 😊).
Few of you have big calves by nature, most bodybuilders work for months at the gym to add an extra inch to the calf area. If you also want bigger calves, you have certainly noticed that certain muscle groups require more time and effort to develop and capture the contour you want.
They are part of this category, precisely because they are used every day, even when you take a simple walk. For this reason, you need calves exercises that overload the muscles and take this group out of the comfort zone.
Calf muscles functionality
They’re incredibly important for everyday life, whether you realize it or not. These muscles are involved in practically any movement where your heel is on the ground, including walking and running, which makes them particularly beneficial for injury prevention and longevity of activity.
They’re also crucial for balance when you’re carrying something heavy or picking something up off the floor, an activity that, let’s face it, you’re doing most days whether you think about it or not.
The benefits of having strong calves don’t end there, they also give an alluring shape to your lower leg that can instantly improve your look.
Strong calves will make your ankles appear smaller and more firm than if they were tiny flaps of flesh hanging off the back of your foot; they even help balance out your pelvis so that you stand with better posture.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to get stronger, more muscular calves is believing that they have to perform a lot of heavy weight training.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Heavyweight training will only make your calves small and weak because heavyweights will always put your muscle fibers in a position where they can’t generate maximum force. If you want big, strong calves you’re going to want to do a high volume of lower rep ranges.
Bodyweight exercise, on the other hand, is perfect for building up and strengthening your calves. Because bodyweight exercises are so intense and require all of your efforts, you’ll be able to build up strong calf muscles without ever having to worry about the amount of weight being lifted.
The following 6 bodyweight exercises are going to build up your calves like nothing else!
Training frequency and reps for calves workout
In terms of the number of repetitions, you have a lot of freedom, but a basic rule says not to have less than 20-30 reps unless you have reached the limit.
Perform two or three workouts a week. At first, twice a week may be enough. Moreover, if you already require them with intense exercise at the first workout, then one workout per week may be enough for the next week or the next two weeks.
Inward or outward?
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In both directions. You can almost completely isolate the inner and outer ends of the gastrocnemius muscle by changing the position of the legs.
According to the well-known stereotype, if the calves are oriented outwards during exercise, the load will be applied to the inner ends, and if they are oriented inwards, the load will be applied especially to the outer ends.
And that’s practically true. So, vary the exercises and position your calves as you wish, depending on your desire to form your calves. But variety should not be limited to this aspect.
Try different combinations and experiment. We all have different calves, so we all need different exercises.
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1. You can do a similar workout twice a week by varying the number of reps or positioning of your legs or knees. It is perfect for the purpose. It can’t be easier, but it leaves room for variety.
2. You could go on and on in the last series. Don’t worry: Get some rest and believe me, you can continue with the next exercise. 😉
3. You could also have a series with partial reps, which is perfect for the final request of the calves.
4. Another method is to fully stretch your muscles in the lowest position and hold for 10-15 seconds.
So, let’s start today’s calf training with our 6 exercises without prolonging it any longer:
1. Single-Leg Calf Raises – 15 reps / each leg / 3 sets
2. Inward Calf Raises – 20 reps / 3 sets
3. Squat Calf Raises – 10 reps / 3 sets
4. Standing Calf Tilts – 20 reps / 3 sets
5. Outward Calf Raises – 20 reps / 3 sets
6. Triple Threats – 10 reps / 3 sets
1. Single-Leg Calf Raises
Photo Source: Men’s Journal
For those seeking to develop their calves is that there are many ways to do it, you can use weights, and machines, leverage your body weight against gravity, or even try to mimic how your calf muscles move when you’re walking or running.
But above all else, you should choose an exercise that works for your lifestyle and lets you keep doing it consistently over time. If you have no equipment available and want to build some muscle fast, single-leg calf raises are one of the best ways to do it.
By taking away one leg, you essentially halve your workload, allowing you to focus fully on working your calves without having to rely on your other leg to lift anything at all.
How to do it:
• From standing, grab yourself on a surface you can stabilize yourself on, a wall, chair, anything you’ve got.
• Begin by placing one leg behind the other, so your ankles should be crossed, and then all you got to do is lift yourself on your toes, hold and squeeze the calf for 2 seconds and then come right back down.
• 15 reps on the right foot, 15 reps on the left foot.
2. Inward Calf Raises
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To get superior results in a short time, you need to add an exercise to your routine that will deliver the growth you’re looking for. That exercise is inward calf raises.
What makes this exercise so effective is that it targets the inner portion of your calves, which are often neglected when it comes to building bigger calves (the outer part usually being the focus).
So if you’re looking for a way to get full development, this is one of the best exercises in your arsenal.
How to do it:
• Starting position: from standing, your feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing inward, and heels out slightly.
• Engage abs for stability, then press through balls of feet to lift heels high up off the floor.
• Keep your knees straight but not locked. Pause at the top, squeezing the calves, then lowering the heels back down. That’s one rep.
3. Squat Calf Raises
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Calf-specific exercises are great, but they’re not the only way to work them. Bodyweight squat variations are a surefire way to get the calf muscles working properly. By doing a squat while leaning forward on a box, chair, or other objects, you can take some of the load off your knees and place more of it on your calf muscles.
This is your best bet for working your calf muscles at home if you don’t have any weights.
Squat Calf Raises are a great way to build up the muscle in your calves. They work through a full range of motion, so they can help strengthen your ankles as well as your calf muscles.
This is great because ankle strength can help prevent injuries in your lower body. The movement also forces you to contract the muscles in your calves throughout the entire movement
How to do it:
• Start by setting up in your normal squat stance and then squat normally sitting back on your heels.
• Once you get low enough to sit at least parallel, transition the weight from your heels onto your toes. Don’t start coming up until your weight is stabilized on those toes.
• Then explode up driving through your calf muscles. At the very top You should be in the calf-raised position like your heels come down, bring your weight back again, and now you’re ready for rep 2.
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4. Standing Calf Tilts
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This exercise may look easy, but the burn catches up to you quickly.
Standing calf tilts are one of the easiest bodyweight exercises to do at home. You can do this exercise in your house or even outside as long as you have a stable surface to stand on.
Standing calf tilts will not only help build up your calf muscles, but also help strengthen your ankles and feet, stabilize your knees, and can help address problems like plantar fasciitis.
This exercise is so basic that it doesn’t require any equipment, which makes it perfect for beginners, or those who just need a quick workout at home.
How to do it:
• Have your feet neutral facing forward and raise as high as you can onto your toes.
• Squeeze your calf muscles as hard as you can with the top of the calf phrase. Then come down on your heels and now lean your weight backward, raising your toes as high as you can, stabilizing on your heels.
• Squeeze your anterior tibialis muscles as hard as you can at the top of this heel raise. Once you get the form down, the movement should be consecutive, meeting a smooth, nonstop transition between both races while maximizing engagement with a slight hold at the top of each race to that from that tilt is one full rep.
5. Outward Calf Raise
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The outwards movement of your calf muscles (the movement in which your toes point away from your body) is often underdeveloped. This can result in poor balance and a more challenging time when running up or down a steep slope.
To work on this weakness, try standing on one leg while performing outward calf raises.
Outward calf raises are the perfect bodyweight exercise for those who want to improve their calf muscles without having to carry around a dumbbell. It’s not as simple as it might sound, as many people tend to overextend their knees while doing this exercise.
Heels should remain on the ground, and the focus should be on raising the toes upwards and stretching out the calf muscles.
How to do it:
• Begin by standing with feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing outward, and heels slightly in.
• Press through balls of feet to lift heels high up off the floor. Keep knees straight but not locked. Pause at the top, squeezing the calf muscles, then lower your heels back down. That’s one rep.
6. Triple Threats
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Triple Threat Calf Raises are a great exercise because you can use them to target multiple muscles at once—your calves, glutes, and quads. The movement itself consists of three different steps.
How to do it:
Triple threats this is a calf raise variation combo by transitioning the angle of your feet each raise.
• The three raises to complete 1 full rep are toast forward, then toast slightly outward, then toast even more outward, and then back to the beginning angle to go on to the next rep.
• A crucial part of this exercise other than the raises, is the actual transfer. Each time you’re rotating your feet angle, you’re performing a heel up by lifting your toes as high as you can, squeezing your inner tibialis muscles.
If you’ve never trained your tibialis anterior, lift your toe upward, keeping your heel planted and you’ll feel a burn in the muscles surrounding your shin area.
This combo is brutal and a great exercise to optimize your mind-muscle connection.
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It’s annoying to have legs without strong calf muscles. That’s right, you can get over it. You will not miss the spectacular calves. But it is depressing to see muscles developed in the upper body in combination with two thin legs. No matter how spectacular the rest of the body would look.
You should vary your training regimen as much as possible. Never do the same workout twice; always change something. Easily adjust the number of repetitions, change the order of the exercises, or combine the two methods above!
If your (invisible) calves bother you, you can do a lot in a reasonable amount of time, using a different training regimen and determination.
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