Calves are one of the most exposed, but most often overlooked muscles of people who go to the gym.
Think about it – every time you walk outside in a pair of shorts or bathing suit your calves are exposed to the world – why would you spend so much time working on areas of your body that are primarily covered up and totally neglect an area that is in plain view for everyone to see?
There are plenty of folks out there who suffer from skinny, “chicken legs” but who otherwise have fairly good physiques. Fortunately this problem is pretty simple to fix and it won’t even add all that much time to your current workout routine. By adding a few, quick and simple exercises to your workouts twice a week you can build sexy and powerful lower legs that you’ll be proud to show off.
Barbell Leg Raises
Whether they look like it or not, your calves are probably already reasonably strong from the daily use and abuse of walking, taking the stairs etc. By using a barbell across the shoulders you can add weight to your calf work to maximize the potential results in minimal time.
You’ll need access to a smith machine at the gym and something sturdy (a calf block) to stand on in order to make this exercise as safe as possible, but it is well worth it. You set the barbell around shoulder height and position it across your back as if you were going to do barbell squats, place the balls of your feet on the calf block and raise your body and the weighted barbell up to full extension.
Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position (with heels below parallel to get maximum stretch) and repeat.
3 sets of 12-15 reps and your calves should be on fire and well on their way to growth (once you can easily hit 20 reps with the weight you are using, pile another plate on the barbell).
Standing Single Leg Calf Raises
Don’t want to use Smith Machine or want to double up on the high intensity calf work? Increase the weight you put into the movement by going body weight, but only on one leg. You can perform this exercise on your stairs at home, on the curb outside or on the calf block at the gym to get a wicked, muscle burning calf workout.
Follow up your barbell calf raises with 2 sets (per leg) of standing single leg calf raises performed to failure or perform 3-4 sets of this movement to failure in place of the barbell calf raises.
Seated Calf Raises
Seated Calf Raises is another exercise that you can add weight to for building some monster calves. If you belong to a gym, there is a good chance that you have access to a seated calf raise machine – if not you can perform them at home with weight plates, a barbell of dumbbells across the knees.
Here is a solid video and tutorial on performing this exercise correctly http://dolphinfitnessclubs.com/blog/fitness/leg-exercise-seated-calf-raise/ and while you probably won’t be able to move as much weight on this movement as you can on the barbell version – it serves as a great finisher to close out your workout to really hone in on and build both the inner and outer calf.
Hit the calves twice per week on the same day your work your legs or on days that you perform full body resistance training and you’ll begin to see a change in no time. After working the calves regularly for a few short months you’ll be looking for excuses to head outside in a pair of shorts to show the world your calves.
For more fitness exercises check Dolphin Fitness Exercise Library