Top Ten Best Exercises for Your Calves

Ever seen those people who look like they could rip a phonebook in half but when you see them in shorts you have to contain your laughter? Chicken legs are a common problem among people who workout - especially men - because they tend to put too much emphasis on their upper body. Women often focus on the glutes and men try to avoid looking below the knees in general.

Your calves are an important part of your balance structure as well as your athletic performance. Want to run faster? Work your calves. Jump higher? Calves. Be able to stand on one leg during yoga or to cross that fallen log over the freezing river? Calves and calves.

Below are the best exercises you can do to strengthen and grow your calf muscles.
The Top Ten
1 Standing Calf Raise

Use a machine or hold weights in each hand and go from flat-footed to up on your toes, then back down. This works better if your heels can go lower than flat, so maybe stand on a board or something a few inches high.

2 Reverse Single Calf Raises

Hold on to something for balance and then rise up onto your toes. Lift one foot off the ground while slowly lowering your body weight using just a single leg and calf. Use both feet to rise back up and repeat the lowering with only one leg.

3 Kickstand Squats

Hold a barbell across your back and stand on a platform a few inches high. Step one foot back behind you and off the platform, then lower into a half-lunge, half-squat. You'll be doing a squat with the front leg and using the back leg for support. Stand back up until your rear leg is straight and repeat.

4 Bridge Calf Raises

Lie on your back and lift your hips so your feet are flat, your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, and your hips are in line with your knees and shoulders. Stay in this position and lift both feet up onto your toes. Slowly lower back to flat and repeat.

5 Seated Calf Raise

Sit with the weight above your knees, then raise your feet up to your toes and reverse.

6 Calf Press

Use a squat press machine and step with your toes instead of your whole foot. Point your toes, then release.

7 Box Jumps

Start by standing at the top of the box. Drop to the floor and then explosively jump back up to the top, spending as little time on the floor as possible. Try not to let your heels touch the floor at the bottom.

8 Sprinting

Just good old-fashioned sprinting. Run 50 yards as fast as you can, then turn and jog back. Immediately sprint again. Repeat 6 times.

9 Balance Board

Get a small platform board (about 1 foot square) and place it on top of a tennis ball or something similar. Stand on the board and try to keep all sides of the board from touching the ground. This really works your stabilizers.

10 Leaning Calf Raise

The same as the standing calf raise, but you are just leaning forward against a wall at about a 30-degree angle. Often, it helps to put a yoga ball in front of your chest so you can "roll" up and down it while pointing your toes.

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