When it comes to exercise, people tend to focus on the more visible areas of the body, such as the abdomen, thighs and biceps. The calves are often forgotten. Located at the backs of your lower legs, your calves consist of two main muscles: the gastrocnemius and the soleus. They work together, helping you stay upright and plantar flex your feet when you walk, run or jump. Calf raises can work your lower legs and don’t require fancy equipment. They can be done almost anywhere, and as long as you do them with perfect form, you can have strong, shapely calves in no time.
Separate your feet so they’re hip-width apart and stand upright with your shoulders pulled back and down, your chest slightly forward and your back straight. Engage your abdominals to make it easier to stay balance. Avoid looking down at your feet, because this might round your neck and upper back and impair your form.
Inhale, and as you exhale, raise your heels off the floor, slowly coming all the way up on the balls of your feet. Focus on the contraction at the backs of your lower legs. Pause one moment at the top of the exercise.
Reverse the motion, slowly lowering your heels back to the floor. Just before your heels touch the floor, go into the next repetition. Continue the up and down motion, completing eight to 12 repetitions and up to three sets.
Warm up with five minutes of light cardio before doing standing calf raises.
For a greater range of motion, do the exercise while standing on the edge of a bench with the balls of your feet. The lowest step of a staircase also works. Standing on a platform allows you to lower your heels deeper so you really feel a stretch in your calf as you go down.
Hold onto a sturdy object to keep your balance during the exercise.
For an extra challenge, hold a thick book, filled water bottle or set of dumbbells in your hands.