Today I woke up with sore calf muscles, which gave me the idea to write this article.
Over the past few months I’ve basically been doing the same calf exercises every day I train my calf muscles – the seated calf raise machine with added weights.
Yesterday I decided to switch it up and I used the standing calf raise machine with light weights and doing a full stretch of the muscle. After waking up with sore calves it was a big reminder of the importance of switching up your calf exercises.
The calf is made up of 5 different muscles, and it is impossible to hit each muscle with just one exercise. The best thing you can do is change up your calf exercises every workout, rotating them in and out. You should also change the position of your feet, as different muscles are targeted depending on how your feet are angled (eversion and inversion).
Below are some different calf exercises you can rotate into your workouts:
Seated Calf Raises – most gyms will have this machine. You load the weights on the front and sit down with the pad resting on your knee. Hang your heel over the edge and perform calf raises. Make sure you get a deep stretch at the bottom and get as high as you can on the top.
Standing Calf Raises – again most gyms should have a standing calf raise machine. The padding rests on both of your shoulders and you stand up with your legs straight. Your heels hang over the edge allowing you to get into a deep stretch (dorsiflexion) and then perform raises. This can also be performed with dumbbells or barbells.
Squat Jumps – one of my favorite exercises overall for many different reasons, including that it will work your calves. Your calves are involved in jumping, so any type of lower body plyometric exercise will work on your calves. With squat jumps you are simply doing a bodyweight squat into a jump as high as you can.
Skipping or “Toe Hops” – Skipping is pretty self explanatory, but some may not know what “toe hops” are. They may have a different name, but that is what I call them. This is where you keep your calf muscles flexed (plantar flexion) and you perform hops on your toes. Basically you are jumping from your toes, landing on your toes, and then going right back up. This is usually a timed exercise.
Important Points = Switch up your calf exercises every workout. Focus on stretching your calf and exploding up under control as high as you can get (on seated and standing calf raises). You don’t need to go heavy to get a good calf workout. Switch up the angle of your feet every other set or every other workout.
This is a lesson for all muscles groups. I am usually good at switching up my exercises for each muscle group, but I personally got into a routine where I was doing the same calf exercise for weeks.