[Jump Rope Challenge]Calf-Time Show: The 20 Best Calf Exercises to Add to Leg Day

Time:2021-07-22 14:19       Tag:

  Are your leg days all about your quads, hamstrings, and glutes? Calves have been clamoring for attention for way too long… and it’s time for them to get it.

  Your calves are made up of two important muscles: the soleus and the gastrocnemius. When you’re flexing your foot, you’re using your gastrocnemius. And when you extend your foot, your soleus is hard at work.

  We rounded up some of the best moves to target those muscles. No matter your fitness level, you can customize each of the calf exercises on this list by adding or subtracting weight, speed, intensity, or reps.

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  Killer calves don’t require fancy equipment. There are plenty of simple bodyweight exercises you can do in the privacy of your home.

  calf exercises jumping jacksShare on Pinterest

  How to do it:

  Stand with feet together and arms by your sides.Bend knees gently.Jump, spreading your legs wider and swinging arms out and over your head.As soon as you land with arms and legs in the extended position, jump back to your starting position, lowering your arms.Continue for 30–60 seconds.Do 3 sets, resting after each.

  Tips:

  In the extended position, your legs should be just slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms straight when swinging them out and over your head.To ensure a full range of motion, clap your hands above your head and then tap the outsides of your legs when bringing your arms down.

  calf exercises lunge pulseShare on Pinterest

  How to do it:

  Stand with feet together and arms at your sides or on your hips.Step forward with right foot into a lunge position.While in the lunge position, straighten left leg.Bend left leg slightly to complete one pulse. Complete 15 pulses, then switch legs and repeat.Do 3 sets on each side, resting after each set.

  Tips:

  Your extended front leg should be at a 90-degree angle in the lunge position, while your other leg should be extended behind you with your knee bent. Keep your chest straight up and down and look straight ahead.

  calf exercises mountain climbersShare on Pinterest

  How to do it:

  Start in a push-up or high plank position.Bending your right knee, step right foot forward between hands.Keep hands in the push-up or high plank position and jump off of feet to quickly switch positions of right and left legs. Straighten right leg behind you into a high plank position while bending left knee and stepping left foot forward between hands.Repeat as quickly as you can for 1 minute.Do 3 sets, resting after each.

  Tip: To modify, you can switch your legs slowly rather than switching quickly during the jump. Step right foot between your hands and extend right leg behind you. Once right leg is planted firmly behind you again, repeat this process with your left leg. When you’re stronger and more comfortable, you can add the jump-and-switch combo.

  calf exercises static neutral holdShare on Pinterest

  How to do it:

  Stand with feet hip-width apart.Lift onto the balls of your feet.Hold this position for 30–60 seconds. Rest and repeat 3 or 4 times.

  Tip: If you’re still finding your balance, you can hold onto something for support.

  If you’ve been doing simple bodyweight exercises and wanna take your workout to the next level, you can opt for a calf exercise with bands.

  Resistance bands are an affordable and easy way to add that extra oomph to your exercise routine.

  Bands come in different weights, so exercising with them is customizable to whatever your heart (or calves) desires. Research suggests they’re also an excellent tool for injury rehabilitation.

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  How to do it:

  Sit on the floor with legs fully extended in front of you.Loop one end of a resistance band around the ball of one foot and pull the other end of the band toward you until there’s tension.With the band pulled tightly, flex your ankle and push your foot forward, pointing toe away from your body.Hold that position for a moment, then relax your foot, letting it come back to its natural position. Repeat for 30–60 seconds on each side. Do 3 sets.

  Tips:

  If a resistance band makes this movement too tricky, start without one to get used to the exercise. You can also start with a light resistance band and build up to heavier bands as you build strength. Recovering from an ankle injury? Try performing this exercise in four directions: in, out, up, and down. Share on Pinterest

  How to do it:

  Stand up straight with feet hip-width apart and a band looped around the arches of your feet.Raise onto the balls of your feet.With right foot, take a wide step to the right. Follow with left foot, keeping tension on the band the entire time.Repeat steps 1–4, but this time step to the left.Complete 15 steps on each side. Do 3 sets.

  Tip: Hold onto a wall or a chair if you’re finding balancing tricky.

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  How to do it:

  Stand with feet hip-width apart, keeping your back as straight as possible.Loop a resistance band around your legs above your knees.Lower into a squat position until your thighs are parallel to the floor.While in the squat position, raise onto the balls of your feet and hold for a moment.Lower your heels back down.Repeat the calf raise while staying in the squat position for 30–60 seconds.Do 3 sets, resting after each.

  Tip: If you’re a newbie resistance band user or just starting an exercise routine, you can do this exercise without the resistance band until you feel ready for it.

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  How to do it:

  Stand with feet hip-width apart.Loop a resistance band around the balls of your feet.Lift right knee as high as you can while lifting onto the ball of your left foot.Lower your right leg and left foot, then repeat steps 1–3 with the opposite leg.Complete 15 steps with each foot. Do 3 sets.

  Tip: Try this exercise without a resistance band the first time to find your balance, and then add the band as you feel comfortable.

  Dumbbells are a great way to add strength training to your calf exercise routine, especially if you’re looking to create a lean and defined look. Whether you’re using 5- or 20-pound dumbbells, that extra weight can make a big difference.

  Another bonus: Dumbbells are an inexpensive and accessible type of workout equipment to have in your home, so you don’t have to carve out time for the gym unless you want to.

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  How to do it:

  Stand on an elevated surface like a step or box, with only the front half of your feet on the surface. Your feet should be hip-width apart.Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.Raise onto the balls of your feet.Slowly lower your feet, bringing your heels below the surface you’re standing on.From the lower position, raise back up onto the balls of your feet.Repeat for 30–60 seconds. Do 3 sets.

  Tips:

  You can do this exercise one foot at a time or with both feet at once. For an added balance challenge, try holding the dumbbells at your shoulders or over your head with your arms fully extended.Wanna turn this into an eccentric exercise? Raise your heels quickly and then lower them slowly. Share on Pinterest

  How to do it:

  Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.Lift onto the balls of your feet.Take 30 steps forward (15 with each foot).Do 3 sets, resting after each.

  Tip: Try the exercise with no weights first, and then add or increase the weights as you feel comfortable and more stable.

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  How to do it:

  Stand up straight with feet hip-width apart.Hold one dumbbell horizontally with both hands at chest height. Lower into a squat position until thighs are parallel to the floor.From the squat position, explode up into a jump, pushing off with your legs.Land with knees slightly bent and gently lower back into the squat position right away.Do 3 sets of 15 reps, resting after each set.

  Tip: This whole move should be one continuous, fluid motion.

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  How to do it:

  Sit on a chair or bench with feet flat on the floor and knees bent at a 90-degree angle.Hold dumbbells vertically on top of your knees.Lift onto the balls of your feet by flexing your ankles. Hold for a moment.Relax heels back onto the floor.Repeat for 30–60 seconds. Do 3 sets.

  Tips:

  For an extra challenge, hold your foot in the flexed position for 30–60 seconds and do 3 or 4 reps of those holds. You can also do one leg at a time rather than both at once.

  These (calves) are on FIRE! Here are the hottest calf exercises for women.

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  How to do it:

  Stand with feet hip-width apart.Bend right knee, bringing right foot up until it taps your butt.As you lower your right foot to the floor, quickly repeat the movement with your left leg, jumping slightly as you switch feet.Continue alternating legs quickly for 30–60 seconds.Do 3 sets, resting after each.

  Tip: For an added challenge, hold a dumbbell of your choice while doing the butt kicks.

  How to do it:

  Stand with feet hip-width apart.Lift right leg in front of you until knee is level with your belly button.As you lower your right foot to the floor, quickly repeat the movement with your left leg, jumping slightly as you switch feet.Continue alternating legs quickly for 30–60 seconds.Do 3 sets, resting after each.

  Tips:

  If you can’t jump at first, you can complete these movements in more of a static march. As you build strength and endurance, see if you can lift your knees higher and higher or try holding a dumbbell while doing the exercise.Share on Pinterest

  How to do it:

  Stand with feet hip-width apart.Keeping your back as straight as possible, bend knees to a 90-degree angle.Straighten legs to return to a standing position. When knees are no longer bent, continue by lifting onto the balls of your feet. Hold for a moment, then lower your heels to the floor.Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

  Tip: For an added challenge, hold a dumbbell of your choice while doing the exercise.

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  How to do it:

  Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding the handles of a jump rope at your sides, with elbows bent in toward your hips.Rotate your wrists to swing the jump rope over your head. Jump over the rope as it passes your feet.Continue for 30–60 seconds or count 50 jumps.Do 3 sets, resting after each.

  Tip: You can use a regular jump rope, a speed rope, or even a weighted jump rope if you’d like an added challenge.

  Looking to bulk up your calf muscles? After completing the exercises on this list, the only thing you’ll need to flex is your calves.

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  How to do it:

  Stand up straight and face forward, holding a dumbbell in each hand.Raise onto the balls of your feet and hold for a moment.Lower your heels back to the floor.Repeat for 30–60 seconds. Do 3 sets.

  Tip: Try the move with lighter weights at first, and then add weight as you’re comfortable.

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  How to do it:

  Stand up straight with one foot on a box in front of you.Push off your elevated foot to explode up into a jump.During the jump, switch the positions of your legs.Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

  Tips:

  Start with a lower surface, like a box or step, and work your way up to a bench or a taller box. For an added challenge, hold dumbbells while doing this exercise.

  How to do it:

  Stand up straight with feet hip-width apart, a few inches away from a secure box of a height you’re comfortable with.Lower into a squat position and hold your arms out behind you.Explode up and forward into a jump, attempting to land on top of the box.When you land on the box, stand up straight before dismounting.Do 3 sets of 5–10 reps.

  Tips:

  If you clip the corner of the box and you’re not going to land, try to push off the box so you don’t injure your shin. When you explode into the jump, bring your knees as high and close to your chest as you can.Share on Pinterest

  How to do it:

  Stand with feet together and arms at your sides.Bend your knees slightly and jump, separating your legs until they’re slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. At the same time, raise your arms out to your sides (but don’t raise them higher than parallel to the floor).Jump again, bringing feet back together. At the same time, bring arms out in front of you and clap.Repeat these jumps as quickly as you can for 30–60 seconds. Do 3 sets.

  Tip: To activate your calves even more, try to complete these jumps without lowering onto your heels.

  No matter where you are on your fitness journey, there are accessible calf exercises for every workout routine that can help you achieve your goals.

  Calf exercises can add both cardio and strength training to your routine. You can modify them to meet your needs by adding resistance bands or dumbbells.

  As with any new exercise or workout, have a chat with your doctor or physical therapist first to make sure it’s safe for you. Always follow proper form to avoid injuries.