Calves are a muscle group that is typically neglected when it comes to weight training and fitness in general. Many people avoid focusing on the calf muscles because they think that they get enough work through other exercises and daily use.
Not only is this not the case, but it can cause you problems down the line as well. An imbalance in the development of these different muscle groups are huge contributors to posture and biomechanical issues which can not only decrease athletic performance but can become a quality of life issue as well.
No one want to walk around with joint pain and discomfort because of poor posture, especially when it is avoidable as in the case of neglecting to train your calves. Do yourself a favor and take a day every week or so to give your calves the attention that they need.
Why Should I Be Worrying About Training My Calves?
The reason why you should be training you calves is the same reason why many people neglect to do so, because they are functionally important to so many things we do. Things as simple as standing up or being able to walk properly involve calf strength, and it is easy to see why many people take them for granted.
What Exercises Should I Be Doing to Develop My Calves?
The calves are one of the easiest muscle groups in the entire body to work, and are one of the muscle groups where body weight exercises can be the most effective. This means less tools to get the job done, and there is no excuse to why you can't be doing them yourself.
1-Standing Calf Raises
The easiest, most accessible exercise is the standing calf raise. These are beginner level exercises that anyone can do, and only require your body weight to get the job done.
To do these, just stand up straight with your feet square to the front at about shoulder distance apart. Use your calves to slowly lift your heels off the floor, going in an upwards direction but not backwards or forwards.
Make sure to keep your back straight while doing this exercise, and hold each rep for a good squeeze to give your calves some good work.
If you are more advanced, increasing the difficulty of this exercise is rather easy. To do so, just use one leg instead of two, an easy method in about doubling the resistance on your calf.
2-Seated Calf Raise
This is the exercise you want to be doing to really give your calves all that size and mass. Sitting down calf raises disengages your core and back muscles as opposed to standing raises, which gives you more stability.
This in turn allows you to lift more weight in the process, again making the sitting calf raise great for building mass. Add as much weight as you desire to really give your calves some great work. Remember to keep the balls of your feet on the ground to ensure that your calves are the ones doing the work.
Do these calf raises like you would any other exercise where you are building strength. Low repetitions with higher weights are going to best help you develop more size, and fast.
3-Calf Raises on Stairs
If you haven't already noticed, there isn't too much variation involved when it comes to isolation exercises and the calf muscles. You need to switch things up as much as possible to keep your muscle confused and growing at the best though, and simple variations make all the difference.
To do this variation, all you need is some stairs and a handrail or wall to keep yourself stable for some support. You want to place your toes and the balls of your feet on the stair, with your heal slightly hanging over the edge.
This allows for a greater range of motion in the calf raise exercise, as when you return back down from the raise, you can go down further. A great analogy here would be doing bench press on a bench versus doing them the old fashioned way on the floor.
While sitting calf raises are arguably the best exercise to build mass, these step raises are excellent in developing flexibility and mobility.