When it comes to exercise and the lower body, the butt and thighs tend to be the star of the show. However, your calves deserve a bit of the limelight as well. When toned and strong, these rear lower leg muscles help to add stunning shape to your stems. Instead of this area of the body being merely an afterthought, here are six super exercise to get your calves in killer shape.
- Mountain Climbers: Start in in plank position with the shoulders above the wrists. Bend your right knee and bring it forward into the chest, keeping your right foot off the floor. Quickly switch legs, bringing the left knee forward while moving the right leg back. Continue switching side to side, staying on the balls of your feet as if running in place in a high push-up position.
- Squat Jumps: Start in a wide squat position, about shoulder-width distance. Push off the balls of the feet and jump into the air while straightening your legs. Land lightly in a squat position. Repeat.
- Standing Calf Raises: Stand on the balls of your feet on the edge of a raised platform, such as a stair or sturdy block. Drop your heels toward the ground and then squeeze your calf muscles to raise up on your tiptoes. Contract the calf muscle at the top before lowering your heels back down. Repeat. If this is too easy, do one foot at a time or hold dumbbells in your hand.
- Tiptoe Sumo Squats: Begin in a wide squat position, about shoulder-width distance or wider. Angle your toes slightly out. Raise up onto your toes. Hold this position as you lower your butt back and down as if sitting into a chair. Sink to below-parallel depth before returning to a standing position, remaining on your toes.
- Stair Climbs: Put building, stadium or other steps to good exercise use. There are all kinds of climbing workouts you can do. The standard starter is to take it one step at a time, climbing to the top and then coming down. To quicken the heart rate, sprint up and down. To add some real muscle in, climb up the stairs two or three at a time. And to really switch it up, try side-stepping up and down.
- Jump Rope: Jumping rope offers a lot of variety for getting those calves in killer shape. Start by finding a rhythm of jumping two feet together over a single swing. Once you’re comfortable, start switching up your footwork and the direction of your rope spin. For a real challenge, try a double under, which requires a quick flick of the rope twice around within one jump off the ground.
Use an interval program to target your calves, while also amping up your full-body fat-burning ability. Following the warm up, do five rounds of the following exercises without stopping. Time yourself, then try to beat that time the next time you do the workout again.
Warm up: Do five minutes of the stair climbing of your choice.
Workout: Do 5 rounds of the following exercises
25 Mountain Climbers (each foot)
10 Squat Jumps
25 Calf Raises
10 Tiptoe Sumo Squats
50 Single Jump Rope Spins