Calf press is a routine that targets the calf muscles of your lower leg, particularly the gastrocnemius muscles.
Most people tend to forget about the calf muscles when it comes to weight training. Unknown to them these muscles are an essential part of the legs, and help in activities such as running, walking and reaching.
For easy navigation of the above activities, consider adding these muscles into your training routine.
HOW TO DO CALF PRESS PROPERLY
In the start position, adjust the seat so that your legs are slightly bent and the balls of your feet firm on the platform. Select an appropriate weight and grip the handles.
Straighten your legs by extending your knees and try as much as possible not to lift the weight from the stack.
With your toes facing up, your ankles should be fully stretched. Execute the movement through the balls of your feet by pressing downwards as far as you can.
Reverse the motion after a brief pause and repeat for the desired number of times.
TIPS TO CONSIDER
Calf press is generally an effective exercise for everyone. However, if you have had previous lower body injury, take time to talk to your doctor first before engaging in the routine.
If you want to avoid injuries during the exercise, consider moving slowly while keeping a slight bend in the knees. Also consider pushing your shoulders in the back to avoid rounding in your spine.
If you experience any pain while on set, stop the exercise and consult your doctor.
If you are lightly active, this exercise might be overactive or tight due to lack of flexibility training. To avoid this, try to stretch or foam roll both before and after the exercise.
WHAT MUSCLES DO CALF PRESS WORK?
The calf press exercise mainly targets the muscles on the back of your lower legs, which facilitate plantar flexion or ankle extension.
These muscles contract in order to lift your heels off the floor, during the upward movement stage of the exercise and also to control the speed of movement during the downward stage.
As the name of the exercise states, it puts more focus on the calves, which include the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles that are both part of the main plantar flexors.
The gastrocnemius is the most prominent of these two muscles and attaches to your knee through the Achilles tendon. As it runs through the back of your lower leg, it separates into two heads: one head attaching to the inside of your knee while the other to the outside of your knee.
The peroneus fibularis brevis and peroneus fibularis longus lie on the outside of your lower leg and help the calves with plantar flexion.
Additionally, they serve to move your foot outward at the ankle joint.
FLEXOR HALLUCIS LONGUS
When you perform the raise step, the flexor digitorum longus and flexor hallucis longus will be responsible.
The former muscle lies at the back, inside part of your lower leg, attaching to the bottom half of the tibia bone on one end and the base of your second through the fifth toes on the other.
The secondary muscles that help your calves with plantar flexion when performing this exercise include the plantaris and tibialis posterior both running at the back of your lower leg.
The tibialis posterior muscles attach to the outside upper portion of your tibia bone and the inside upper part of the fibular bone on top; crosses the inside of your ankle; and runs underneath your foot, finally reattaching at various locations at the bottom.
On the other hand, the plantaris is a long and thin muscle which attaches to the outside of your knee, above the attachment of the lateral head of the gastrocnemius on top and to the back of the heel on the bottom.
CALF PRESS BENEFITS
Once the fast twitch muscle fibres of the gastrocnemius muscle are stretched, it will allow more rapid and explosive movements thus making this an excellent exercise for beginners and athletes alike.
The ease of doing calf press is also an indication of one’s ability to do day-to-day activities.
The gastrocnemius works hand in hand with the hamstrings so as to control knee flexion while the soleus serves to maintain proper balance and pump blood from your leg back to your heart.
The press strengthens two muscles which run at the back of your leg: gastrocnemius and soleus.
The above muscles are important in ankle flexion and extension, propelling running and jumping.
Strong calf muscles on the other hand will lead to better balance and stability, decreased risk of foot and ankle injuries and better agility when jumping and running.
CALF PRESS ALTERNATIVES
As mentioned before, the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles form the calf muscles. The calf press exercise focuses more on the soleus muscles since the legs are bent most of the time.
The following alternative exercises will help to work both muscles of the calf to maximise its growth potential.
Jumping rope will work the muscles that the press misses. It builds endurance, strength and coordination for the calf muscles.
SINGLE LEG STANDING CALF RAISES
This exercise will work both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles through a full range of motion.
SQUATT HOLD CALF RAISES
This alternative will place your legs as in calf press but will additionally work your gluteal muscles too.
COMMON CALF PRESS MISTAKES TO AVOID
NOT STRETCHING BEFORE HAND
As it is, stretching is the most important aspect of this routine as it will prevent exercise related cramping while on set.
GOING TOO FAST
Be keen to control the motion of the exercise in order to reap its full benefits.
Exercises that target the calf muscles such as this one is great for those who want to increase lower leg size as well as the general population.
Consider performing it alongside its alternative in order to work all muscles of the calf muscles equally.