6 Calf Exercises for More Shapely Legs


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  29 comments   :  51,123 Views

Having strong calf muscles are what gives our lower legs that often sought after well-defined look, but having strong calf muscles also aids running and walking by allowing for ankle extension. While many of us find working the quadriceps (front thigh) and hamstrings (back thigh) a natural part of our workout routine, do not underestimate the power of working this group of muscles.

Two of the major muscles that make up the calves include the gastronemius (the outer calf) and the soleus (the inner calf). By doing a variety of calf strength training exercises and stretches you are ensuring that you are targeting all muscles involved.

Ankle Flexion

Calf Raises

While standing calf raises are great for targeting the gastronemius, the seated calf raise (below) is great for targeting the soleus.


Calf Rocking with Dumbbells

Single Leg Calf Raises on a Step

Calf Stretches

For more calf exercises and stretches, click here to view Coach Nicole’s Calf and Ankle Stretching Routine.

Do you strength train and/or stretch your calf muscles? If so, what is your all-time favorite exercise?

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  • 29
    some links need to be updated - 10/5/2017   3:44:40 PM
  • 28
    Great calf exercises, Like them! - 9/16/2017   10:19:46 PM
  • 27
    I like to do calf raises with a chair. I have trouble with my balance and I feel like with the chair I have something to grip and not loose my balance. I probably should try more of these exercises too. Thanks for the ideas! - 8/1/2016   12:08:25 AM
    These are great Nancy! I've shared them with the Rookie Runners, and also put the link into the blog I wrote today. AND I've put this one into my favorites! Since I've been doing them, my heel feels better. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, and will continue to do them.

    You are AWESOME!!! - 10/16/2010   11:54:21 AM
  • 25
    I wish these exercises were listed in the SparkPeople exercise site! - 10/14/2010   11:49:29 PM
    I do calf raises at the washer, waiting for it to fill. It was on of my exercises when I had knee replacements. - 10/14/2010   8:59:52 PM
  • 23
    I do a lot of yoga exercises, which focus on legs and calves. we also do leg stretches in the pool. - 10/14/2010   8:15:04 PM
    I am going to try some of these to see if they will help me. - 10/14/2010   7:21:04 PM
  • 21
    Going to work on my calves. Now! - 10/14/2010   2:28:19 PM
  • 20
    Thats awesome!! Great job!! I need to work my calves I noticed they are getting bigger and I can't fit them into tall boots - 10/14/2010   11:55:34 AM
  • 19
    I do 100 to 150 calf raises every morning - along with 200 pulsing squats. And balance exercises. And quad stretches. You should see these legs! - 10/14/2010   11:06:44 AM
    Any Insanity Max Interval workout works my calves...also Tony Horton's One-on-One Plyo Legs, Bun Shaper, and P90X Legs and Back DVD...great complete leg workouts! (Sorry for the shoutouts, but I'm currently doing these Beach Body programs). And, of course, downward dog while bending the knees one at a time time---awesome calf strectch! - 10/14/2010   10:19:20 AM
  • 17
    I do strength train and one of my favorites for my calves is raising up on my toes while holding weights and holding for a few seconds - 10/14/2010   9:13:55 AM
  • 16
    Jogging/running & my treadclimber!!!
    Plus my stretching!! - 10/14/2010   9:08:16 AM
  • 15
    I've developed some ankle/inner calf nerve problems and have been wearing 'the big black boot' for 3 weeks now. I 'graduated' to a smaller one yesterday and hope to be able to exercise again within a month. I've bookmarked these exercises. I overpronate and had been wearing Shape Ups. The doctor says they're unstable for people with ankle/knee problems and that's probably what started this whole thing. I need to strengthen my ankles, for sure! - 10/14/2010   6:53:04 AM
  • 14
    Gastrocnemius - there's a "c" in it. It's stuck in my head because it is such a weird word, though I memorized it 30+ years ago for anatomy class. :-) - 10/14/2010   5:59:15 AM
  • 13
    This collection of excercises is a great help. Thanks - 10/14/2010   4:58:37 AM
  • 12
    YOGA. It gets the legs for sure. - 10/14/2010   12:39:29 AM
  • 11
    I try to stretch before and after all my run/walks. I can tell a big difference in how my legs feel during my walks when I do this. - 10/13/2010   8:51:28 PM
    One of David's signature moves, the Plié Squat is a favorite of mine, and just the move to sculpt your calves. This one exercise targets the three muscles in your lower leg- the gastrocnemius, soleus, and tibialis anterior- and also engages the major upper leg muscles- the glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings.

    So say goodbye cankles. Bring the Plié Squat into your cardio-sculpting routine, and you’ll be set to premiere those new heels in no time! - 10/13/2010   4:40:19 PM
  • 9
    I dislocated and broke my right ankle seven months ago. I have been using some of these exercises to strengthen my legs already. Thanks for the extra ideas for building strength in the calves. :-) - 10/13/2010   4:16:25 PM
    Editor's Note: Thanks for the comment on the grammar. It has been corrected. - 10/13/2010   2:57:59 PM
  • KOV123
    Hysterical grammar correction post.You go girl! - 10/13/2010   2:27:02 PM
  • 6
    Thank you so much I really needed some good workouts for my calf now that I am running more. ~;o) - 10/13/2010   2:21:53 PM
    This is perfect for me because I plan on walking for my main form of cardio! - 10/13/2010   2:02:36 PM
  • 4
    The title should be "6 Calf Exercises for Shapelier Legs" not "6 Calf Exercises for More Shapelier Legs", unless you mean exercises to increase the number of shapelier legs. An even better title would be "Shapelier Legs in 6 Calf Exercises". - 10/13/2010   1:47:45 PM
  • 3
    I stretch my calf muscles several times per week, but I don't always strength train them directly. It's my understanding that they are ancillary muscles that are engaged during other exercises, like lunges. - 10/13/2010   1:41:53 PM
  • 2
    I train my calves 2X per week - with leg workouts. One day is a standing day and one day is a seated day -- to target those deep muscles.

    My fav is a a standing V-series. With either a barbell or dumbells start with your toes pointed inward toward each other (an upside down V shape) Do 12-15 calf raises in this position, turn the feet so they are parallel to each other and immediately do another 12-15, then turn your feet so the heels are together and toes are pointed out - forming a V shape and immediately do another 12-15 raises. Rest approximately 30-45 seconds and do it again.

    This series is excellent for fatiguing the muscles and hitting all parts of the calf! - 10/13/2010   1:33:26 PM
  • 1
    I used to never stretch but after a really bad bout of shin splints I try to stretch for about 10 minutes after my runs. - 10/13/2010   1:19:07 PM

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