In this article, we will look at some of the best calf exercises for women that can be done at home.
We tend to take our calf muscles for granted, but they play an essential role in our mobility. They are used whenever we walk, run, jump, and the like. Our lower body’s shock absorbers, calves cushion the impact every time our feet land on the ground.
To improve performance for these physical activities and to excel in competitive sports, your calf muscles need to be strong and flexible. The best calf exercises to achieve this will increase your flexibility and build strength.
If you want to have finely shaped calves, you will need to do exercises that target your lower leg muscles. Below, you will find some of the best calf exercises for women that will get results quickly if you are consistent.
The Best Calf Exercises for Women
Your calf muscles are accustomed to carrying your full body weight. To improve their tone, you will need to subject them to a heavier load and high repetition. Use proper technique, and perform at least 15 repetitions for every set to stimulate muscle growth. Do this on alternate days, and you will start to see a difference in muscle tone within a few weeks, and a significant improvement in eight weeks or so.
To avoid injury and cramps, do some stretches before and after you do the exercises.
- SEATED CALF RAISES
Seated Calf Raises are surprisingly effective given how easy they are. They are done sitting on a bench or an armless chair.
1) Sit with your feet flat on the floor, your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
2) Contract your abs and bend forward from the hips keeping your back straight, and resting your elbows on your thighs.
3) Allow the weight of your upper body to push down on your thighs. Lift your heels off the floor as high as you can, holding this position momentarily.
4) Lower your heels to the floor very slowly. Do three sets of 15 to 20 reps.
For a more challenging workout, do the exercise with a weight plate or dumbbells held on your thighs.
- STANDING CALF RAISES
This is one of the best calf exercises for toning your lower legs. It uses bodyweight as resistance, and it doesn’t require any equipment.
1) Stand straight, your abs contracted and your feet slightly apart.
2) Slowly lift your heels so that your weight is resting on the underside of your toes, holding the position momentarily.
3) Slowly lower your heels to your starting position. Do three sets of 20 repetitions.
A variation is to do three pulses during each lift.
To increase the resistance do the exercise with your heels hanging over a step, holding onto the railing or steadying yourself against a wall. Point your toes forward for the first set, out to the sides for the second, and towards each other for the third. This will enable you to target the back, outer, and inner portion of your calf muscles.
You can also increase the resistance by holding a dumbbell in one hand while doing the exercise.
- LUNGE CALF-RAISES
Along with the calves, Lunge Calf-Raises work the glutes, the hamstrings, and the quads.
1) Stand upright with your feet flat on the ground approximately hip-width apart. Keep your shoulder relaxed and down and your back straight. Hold your arms in a position that will help you to keep balanced – this could be on your hips, straight out in front of you, or out to either side.
2) Take a large step forward with your right foot.
3) Keeping your back and upper body upright, lower your right knee until your leg is parallel to the floor.
4) Slowly lift your right heel off the floor, holding the position for one second before placing it back on the floor and pushing back up to your starting position. Do 15 repetitions, then change sides and work your left leg.
For extra resistance, do the exercise holding a dumbbell in each hand on either side of your chin.
- SINGLE-LEG RAISES
Single-Leg Raises are one of the best calf exercises you can do, and also one of the most challenging. They are similar to Calf-Raises done on a step, but you will be standing on one leg.
To do Single-Leg Raises you will need access to a step or a sturdy bench that is beside a wall so that you can steady yourself. Don’t do more reps than recommended until your strength improves. If you do, you will probably regret it the next day as the exercise is a lot tougher than it seems.
1) Start by standing with the heel of your right foot hanging off the edge of the step.
2) Lift your left leg straight out in front of you with your foot held a few inches above the step. Your arms should be by your sides.
3) Raise your right heel as high as you can, holding the position for a second. Lower your heel back down, so it is hanging over the edge of the step again. Repeat 10 to 15 times before working your left leg.
- ELEVE TO RELEVE
Eleve to Releve is a Barre training-inspired exercise which tones the entire calf and thigh. Initially, you may need to steady yourself against a wall or a sturdy piece of furniture to keep your balance.
1) Standing upright, raise both arms out to the front with the fingertips of one hand pointing toward the fingertips of the other. At the same time, lift your heels high off the floor keeping your knees straight.
2) Lower your tailbone towards the floor so that you are in a partial squat, keeping your heels lifted and your spine in a neutral position. As you do this, move your arms out to either side.
3) Straighten your knees and lower your heels to return to your starting position.
The Best Calf Exercises Summary
Along with the practical aspect, well-developed calf muscles will give your legs an attractive sculpted appearance.
The exercises above are some of the best calf exercises for defining the muscles of your lower legs. However, if you are overweight, to improve the appearance of your calved you will need to reduce your calorie intake and do regular cardio sessions to lower your body fat. Only then will you see the results of your hard work.
Good cardio exercises that target the leg muscles include cycling, jumping rope, walking, jogging, and running. All can be done indoors or outdoors, and the latter three can be done on a treadmill if desired.
If you decide to walk, run, or jog outdoors, select a route with some hills. Doing so will enable you to burn more calories and tone your calf muscles faster.
For an even greater calorie burn, wear a weighted vest. Alternatively, try wearing ankle weights, which along with burning calories will also enable you to tone your legs muscles faster. To get these benefits while using a treadmill, vary your speed and the incline of the deck throughout your workouts.