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October 19, 2018 4 min read

Of every muscle group in the human body, there's perhaps no grouping that so broadly illustrates the differences in genetically endowed musculature than the calves. Anyone who has smaller calves knows what we're talking about: you can run, hop, raise and lunge 'til Halley's Comet returns, and your gains won't reflect your hard work.

Let's just get this out of the way: if you have trouble gaining lean muscle mass in your calves, you probably always will. This said, there are ways you can maximize your gains to the best of your innate abilities. Keep reading: we're going to tell you have to sculpt your calves.

Calf Anatomy

First, let’s talk a little about your calf anatomy. The main muscles you’re going to want to be training are your soleus, gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior. The soleus is the smaller, flat muscle that lies under the gastrocnemius: the large muscle formed by two parts, or heads. This muscle is what creates that visible and distinct calf bulge that most of us want.

The tibialis anterior runs down the entire front of your lower leg. Ever walk up a long, steep hill and feel that dee burn in the front of your calf? Yeah, that’s the tibialis anterior. It’s used to perform activities where the toes are higher than the heels.

Calf Training

Unless you’re willing to go the way of 17th century noblemen andstuff your stockings to get strong, sexy calves, you’re probably just going to have to suck it up and sweat for it, like the rest of us. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that unlike many other muscle groups in your body, like your legs and chest, there is only one way to work each muscle in your calves. This makes training them relatively simple.

Here, we’re going to give you one exercise that will target each calf muscle. All you gotta do is actually do them! Either put them in a circuit and do them for a killer day of calves, or break them up and add them to your other routines. Just bear in mind you will NEED to load up to see best results. Your calves already carry around your bodyweight all day, and you know what they say: if you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.

Whether it’s aweighted vest,dumbbells,sandbag,barbell,kettlebell, ourBodyBaror resistance bands, you should take on some load. Also, be sure to have a safe, stable platform, like ourstep riser, so you can properly perform the inevitable reps of raises.

Standing Calf Raise

Targets: The gastrocnemius

  1. Stand on a step riser or any secure raised surface. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and position your toes on the edge of riser or step. If you feel unbalanced, grab the back of a chair, a wall or a rail for balance.
  2. Lower your heels toward the floor - as far as you can without falling off the step or uncomfortably straining your calf flexibility.
  3. Push back up through the balls of your feet until you’re on tiptoe.
  4. Repeat for 20-30 reps.

Seated Calf Raise

Targets: The soleus

  1. Sit on a chair with the balls of your feet on a step riser or secure, low, stool or stair. Your feet should be positioned hip-width apart.  
  2. Place barbell, BodyBar or dumbbells across the tops of your thighs, just above your knees.
  3. Lower your heels toward the floor - as far as you can without falling off the step or uncomfortably straining your calf flexibility.
  4. Push back up through the balls of your feet until you’re on tiptoe.
  5. Repeat for 20-30 reps.

Want to hit your entire lower body? Try a wall squat calf raise! Simply squat against the wall, place the resistance on your thighs as explained above (optional) and push up onto your tiptoes, then lower. Repeat for 20-30. This move will work your glutes and thighs as well as your calves. You can even use acore band (as pictured above) to get some outer thigh and glute conditioning.

Reverse Calf Raise

Targets: The tibialis anterior

  1. Start on a step riser or any secure step. Stand with your feet hip width apart and position your heels on forward edge of riser or step. If you feel unbalanced, grab the back of a chair, a wall or a rail for balance.
  2. Balancing on your heels, pull both feet up toward your body. Go as far up as you can.
  3. Return foot down until toes point downward. Pull them up again. Repeat.
  4. Keep standing tall and maintain a straight leg throughout the movement.
  5. Repeat for 20-30 reps, or as many as you can.

Ready to get the rest of your legs in the best shape of your life? Hop on board ourFive Day Fit: Strong Legs & Thighsseries! You can score all the equipment we use in these workouts as well as the entire five days of insanely effective, leg sculpting, fat burning workouts when you buy  the BodyRock Strong Legs Kit. It’s only $170, and gives you everything you need to start building better, sexier, stronger and healthy legs.Join us!

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