They might not say so often, but ladies love well-turned calves. And because we’re on our feet all the time, they are quite resilient, notes Don Saladino, NASM, owner of NYC’s Drive 495 and 443 . Translation: They can be trained more frequently than other muscles—ideally with a focus on bodyweight moves. “The most progress I have seen is by training in a bent-leg position and straight-leg position,” he says. “This hits both the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles.” Add the following Saladino-endorsed moves to your routine three times weekly, and watch those babies grow.
1. Two-Legged Calf Raise: Stand with feet next to one another on stair or raised platform, heels hanging off the edge. Holding onto a rail for support, lower heels down below stair or platform level, then push up onto toes. Repeat. Do three sets of 20 reps. To make this move more challenging, perform while holding a dumbbell in your free hand.
2. Seated Calf Raise: Load machine with challenging weight on either side. Sit on machine, thighs under pads, and lock pads into place. Keeping back straight and core tight, push onto balls of toes to lift weight. Slowly lower without letting weight come fully down, then push back up. Repeat. Do 3 to 4 sets of 12 to 15 reps.
3. Plyo Hop: Stand with feet hip width apart. Rise up onto toes. Perform a small hop into air and land back on toes. Immediately hop again. Continuously repeat without letting heels touch the ground for one minute. Do three sets.
4. Single Leg Calf Raise: Stand on right foot on stair, heel hanging off the back, left foot wrapped around right ankle. Holding onto a rail for support, lower right heel down below stair or platform level, then push up onto toes. Repeat. Do 3 sets of 20 reps on each leg. To make this move more challenging, perform while holding a dumbbell in your free hand.
5. Calf Stretch: Stand with feet hip width apart. Bend forward, place hands on ground and walk them out in front of you. Cross right ankle over left, and using hands, push into left calf. Try to keep left foot completely flat. Hold for one minute, then switch legs.