Have you been trying to gain more toned calves? Here are a few tips and exercises to help define the calves and work the leg muscles!
- Stay active: Preventing fluid from building up in your lower legs is key for defined calves. The solution is simple: just get up and move throughout the day. Avoid prolonged periods of sitting if you can help it.
- Stretch your calf muscles throughout the day: If you look at someone with defined calves, you can see a distinct line between the two calf muscles. The long calf muscle is called the gastrocnemius, and the smaller one at the bottom is the soleus. In order to create some definition, you must stretch both of the calf muscles individually. Try foot-flexing exercises while seated, and do standing stretches with a slight bend at your knee to feel the soleus stretching.
- Try calf raises: Whenever you have time or you’re standing around do some calf raises. They’re simple to perform, just shift your body weight up onto your toes by raising your heels and slowly lower yourself back down. Using just your body weight is enough to build strength. But if you want to increase the challenge and get really defined calves, try holding on to a weight as you do the raises.
- Run using a mid-foot strike position: This really activates the calf muscles and helps to build strength, which will give you defined calves. If you generally run with a heel strike, don’t switch your position all in one go or you’ll find yourself feeling a little sore the next day! Instead, during each run, focus on landing a few strides on the ball of your foot every few minutes.
- Increase your gradient: Running or walking uphill is great for defined calves, as well as toned hamstrings and glutes. Try conquering hills or crank up the treadmill at least once a week.
Exercises that Will help grow your calves:
- Ankle Circles
- Lift one foot a few inches off the ground and rotate your foot in a circular motion. Complete five circles in one direction and then repeat it the other way.
- Knee Circles
- Place your hands on your hips, put your feet together and now draw a circle with your knees, keeping your legs together at all times. (Think about how you would move your hips if you were hula-hooping, and just bring that movement down to your knees). Remember to breathe normally and complete five circles in each direction.
- Standing Calf Stretch (with the wall)
- Position yourself in front of a wall and take a step or two backwards until you are two feet away. Put one foot forward so it is closer to the wall and then lean forward to rest your hands on the wall. Keep your heel, hip and head in a straight line, you shouldn’t be bending at the waist. Aim to keep your back heel flat on the ground. Hold for 10-20 seconds and then switch sides.
- Seated Calf Stretch
- Sit down on an exercise mat with you legs out straight in front of you. Bend one knee and place the foot flat on the ground (by your other knee) to support your torso. Then, focus on the leg that is straight out in front of you and try and flex your ankle so that your toes are pointing up. Using a band, a towel, or your hand if you can reach, gently pull your toes towards you. Hold for 10-20 seconds and then switch sides.
- Standing Gastrocnemius Calf Stretch
- Stand by a low bench or step and place your right leg on the step in front of you. Balance on your left leg and lean down towards your right foot. Try and straighten your right leg to create a triangle between your legs and the step. Make sure you bend your left leg for stability but aim to keep the right leg reasonably straight. Now pull gently on your right foot, bringing the toes towards you and resting your heel on the step. When you feel a slight stretch in your calf, hold for 10-20 seconds and then switch sides.
The legs don’t tend to have much body fat stored in them, so following these tips should make it easier for you to build definition in your calves more easily and quickly! Enjoy!
Written by GUADS intern Sara with contributions from (https://discovergoodnutrition.com/)