Calf strength and ankle mobility are crucial for everybody. When your foot strikes the ground, the functional stability required for the whole kinetic chain relies on an agile and strong base.
Sadly, this base is usually neglected by most people. Want some strong and great looking calves? Read on for the best calf exercises without equipment and more.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF STRONG CALF MUSCLES?
Your calf contains two calf muscles, namely: gastrocnemius and soleus. These two muscles work during foot flexion. For instance, when you are pointing your toe by moving your ankle into a downward position.
Your calf is made up of a strong group of muscles made up of two muscle heads that terminate from your Achilles tendon at the heel.
Calf muscles activate during any adapted for walking movements. These include walking, running or jumping. These activities are what makes your calf muscles very susceptible to various muscular strain injuries.
After an injury, you are advised to start strengthening your affected calf muscle as soon as possible to prevent loss of muscle mass and improve your lower leg functionality.
Also, calf exercises are a good set of routines to get into for greater calf extensibility. They will help with your ankle mobility and also during the more complex leg exercises such as squats.
If you have had a calf injury, calf exercises will help relieve your muscles’ tension, setting you up for a quick recovery.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU EXERCISE YOUR CALVES?
Consider incorporating calf exercises into your daily workout routine a couple of times a week.
However, this does not apply to everyone. The number of times you include the calf exercises into your routine will depend on the activities that you enjoy.
Say, for instance, a long-distance runner or a marathoner may have to do a few of these calf exercises to avoid overtraining their calves.
This is because running, jumping or walking are already forms of calf exercises.
DO GENETICS PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR CALF DEVELOPMENT?
Pretty much, yes. Genetics have a key role to play when it comes to the development of your calves.
You have probably met someone with massive, strong and sharply defined calf muscles, yet they rarely do any exercises for that. You, on the other hand, have been training your calves but see only minimal results.
Due to the allocation of Type I and Type II muscle fibres allocation, your genetics have a role to play in your calf muscle makeup.
Type I fibres are usually more resistant to fatigue. They also tend to have a lower growth potential than Type II fibres, also known as fast-twitch muscle fibres.
Here is where your genetic factor comes in. everyone has a different percentage of both Type I and Type II muscle fibres.
This means that if you have more Type II fibres, you will have a greater growth potential than someone with more Type I fibres.
However, genetic makeup cannot prevent anyone from increasing their calf muscles. If you were not born with big, nicely shaped calf muscles, do not worry because your genes cannot prevent you from having them as you desire. It might just need a lot of work.
The right workout routine, diet and recovery plan can always help you to build strong and more athletic calves regardless of where you are starting from.
ARE CALF MUSCLES THE HARDEST MUSCLES TO BUILD?
Well, everybody has that one specific muscle that proves to be stubborn every time they hit the gym. No matter how hard you try, these muscles won’t be!
Calf muscles are one such set of muscles. They are among the biggest complained about muscles in most people. Compared to other muscle mass, they often pose more problem to build. There is an actual reason as to why they are this way.
The anatomical configuration of your calf muscles resists the act of hypertrophy. In a nutshell, this means that they naturally resist muscle synthesis.
The problem here comes in when most people treat the calf muscles as extras, such that they do not put more effort into them. Since they are a harder nut to crack, these muscles actually require intense focus to get the results you have desired for long. The key here is not to make them an afterthought.
Let’s look at a breakdown of the major muscles that make up your calves:
The gastrocnemius muscle- This is the muscle that is responsible for giving your calves their shape.
The soleus muscle- This is the long flat muscle underneath
The tibialis anterior- This is the large frontal muscle
I guess you are probably shocked with the third muscle. This is because it is the muscle that is mostly overlooked, making the calves such a huge challenge for people.
To actually see the growth, you must create well-structured routines that focus on all three muscles.
HOW LONG WILL TAKE TO GROW CALF MUSCLES?
If you want to exercise and make your calf muscles grow, you will have to make them your priority for a while. This means that you will have to train them first in your workout twice a week.
Avoid training them back-to-back. Pick days that don’t follow each other in a week. If you follow this, you should be able to see the results after six weeks.
12 BEST CALF EXERCISES WITHOUT EQUIPMENT
Below are the 12 best calf exercises without equipment. You can also have a look at how to do calf raises properly.
DOUBLE LEG CALF RAISE
This is among the classic calf exercises without equipment that greatly strengthens your calf muscles. These will use your body weight to strengthen and tone the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.
SINGLE-LEG CALF RAISE
Here is how to do a singe calf raise. Alternatively, if you are doing the double leg calf raise and notice that you need to increase the intensity, the single-leg calf raise is the solution.
This will increase the intensity on one calf, strengthening it even more.
SEATED CALF RAISE
You can do this in the comfort of your home, without having to move about. It strengthens both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.
These are great calf exercises without equipment, especially when you go up the hill. The steeper your climb, the more your calves will work.
Running sports are equally great calf exercises without equipment. They can include basketball and soccer. These sports demand that you run, jump and push off your calf muscles to accelerate or change direction quickly. This is great for toning your calf muscles.
This one will work out both your calves and legs. They will be convenient for you, especially if you are trying to avoid the impact of running sports.
As demonstrated by the American Council of Exercises, these are a variation of a forward lunge. They are a great way to exercise your calves, especially after an injury.
These are not just for kids. They help to strengthen your calf muscles as well as improve your cardiovascular muscles. However, if you are a beginner, avoid going too high to avoid impact on your legs.
SEATED TOE RAISES
These are a bunch of great calf exercises without equipment. They are specifically meant to exercise your calf and no other part. They work both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.
STANDING TOE RAISES
According to Arthritis Foundation, these exercises are better than seating toe raises. This is because they will place the entire weight of your body on your calves.
STANDING WALL CALF STRETCH
This is a form of wall stretch exercises for your calf muscles. It works the gastrocnemius muscle, helps relieve gastrocnemius strain and can also help relieve pain in your Achilles tendon.
STRAIGHT LEG CALF STRETCH AGAINST THE WALL
This one also falls under the wall stretch exercises for your calves. It targets your gastrocnemius muscle and simultaneously improves your ankle flexibility.
Remember that calf exercises should be done twice a week for positive results. However, you should not follow this blindly. Pay attention to your body, and listen to any signs of pain. If so, consult your doctor before embarking on your calf exercise routines.[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="4"]