Strength and Bodybuidling
The calves, located on the back of the lower leg, are a posterior chain muscle group. They are often neglected during many training programs because they don’t grow as large as other muscles in the body. But do not get discouraged if you have underdeveloped calves. Instead, learn the anatomy of the calf muscle so you can target them during training.
There are two main muscles that make up the calf. These are the gastrocnemius and soleus. The gastrocnemius is the larger of the two. It is the muscle that you can see the most of when looking at developed calves. It plays a role in plantar flexion of the foot and knee flexion.
The soleus is the smaller of the two. It also plays a role in plantar flexion of the foot. Though to target the soleus calf muscle you must have your knees bent. When performing seated calf raises, you are targeting more of the soleus. Whereas standing calf raises will target the gastrocnemius. This is because your knees are flexed when seated and straight when standing. This determines which muscle is most active.
One of the most basic moves for calf development is the standing calf raise. With hands at the side, toes pointed forward and a straight knee, you will raise their heels off the ground while pushing through the balls of their feet. Ensure to use control throughout the movement with a slight pause at the top of the contraction.2. Seated Calf Raises
These calf raises place the resistance on the quadriceps, just above the knee in a seated position. A seated calf machine can typically be found in any gym. You will add the appropriate weight and sit with the pads of the machine on top of their thighs. Feet should be shoulder-width apart with toes pointed forward. Heels should be hanging with the balls of the feet pressing into the foot platform on the machine. You will press the balls of their feet into the foot platform to slowly raise their heels, squeeze at the top, and then slowly lower back down.3. Elevated Calf Raises
The movement is very similar to the standing calf raises. However, a raised box or step platform allows for greater range of motion throughout the exercise. You will stand on the platform with the heels of both feet hanging off the edge of the platform. Toes point forward with feet shoulder-width apart. Pressing the balls of the foot into the platform, you will slowly raise their heels, pause at the top, and slowly lower back down until the heels are slightly below the raised platform.4. Jump Rope
Jumping rope is an excellent exercise to challenge the calf muscles. The jumps should be small and controlled with slightly bent knees to help prevent injury. You should jump and land on the balls of their feet for each repetition. Although a weighted vest is an option, consider using just body weight for plyometric movements.5. Bent-Knee Calf Raises
The bent-knee calf raise is a good way to shift the focus from the gastrocnemius to the soleus. You will stand with your toes pointed forward and feet shoulder-width apart. They will slightly bend their knees so they are in a partial squat position. While pressing the balls of the feet into the floor, slowly raise your heels as high as possible, pause at the top, and slowly lower back down. The knees should remain bent throughout the entire movement.6. Single-Leg Calf Raises
Building balance on both right and left side of the body is the reason we love this exercise. Depending on your abilities, this exercise can be done with or without weight, on a flat surface or an elevated platform, and even on the calf raise machine. The idea is to complete the movement properly with one calf so that the opposite leg doesn’t take over for any part of the movement.
For muscle growth to occur, you must overload the muscles in some way. Because most people use their calf muscles throughout most of the day, the muscles may require some additional focus to overload them to the point of damage for growth purposes. This can mean increasing the reps, weight, speed, or frequency of training.2. Get Good Rest
Sleep plays an essential role in muscle repair and growth. It is important to get adequate sleep after training.3. Visualize and Control the Tempo
The mind-muscle connection can be an important component for any lifter. Quality form while visualizing the muscle contraction can help support increased muscle activation. Unless an individual is completing explosive plyometric exercises, the movements should be slow and controlled with a pause/squeeze at the top of the movement.