The muscles behind your lower legs that sit beneath your shin bone just below your knees are your calf muscle.
They consist of three muscles that assist the movement of your legs in all directions. The calf muscles also help you flex your foot, run, walk, and even stand upright.
While it may not seem like it, calf muscles are an important part of your body that you should pay more attention to if you aren’t already.
This article will guide you on how to build calf muscles and keep them strong and healthy.
What are the Roles of your Calf Muscles?
Many people do not bother to build their calf muscles because they don’t know why they should. These vital muscles in your body support you in more ways than one.
Calf muscles provide support when you stand.
They enable you to move your foot and lower leg at will.
The muscles propel you when you walk, run, or move around.
Your calf muscles allow you to rotate your ankle and flex your foot in different directions.
They make it easy for you to lock your knees.
Effects of Weak Calf Muscles
It might not be obvious to many people, but having weak calves can cause some serious problems to your daily functioning as well as your health.
First, you are incapable of using the muscles as you ought to or at will. This means you cannot maximize the force generated in your calves, no matter how hard you try.
Weak calf muscles can lead to the following negative results:
Reduced Leg Power
A weak calf puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to sprinting. This is because sprinting uses more leg power compared to distance running.
And you don’t necessarily have to be a runner to experience this disadvantage.
Everyone has to run over short distances once in a while whether for leisure or in an emergency. Without strong calf muscles, the activity can become very challenging.
On the other hand, a strong and large calf muscle is linked to greater leg power. Also, as calf muscles are somehow associated with jumping, it can be challenging to do the activity with a weak or small calf.
High Risk of Injury and Falls
Some important functions of your calf muscle include providing your body with good balance, stability, posture, and support for your ankle joints and foot.
All of these will be lacking if you have weak calf muscles. As you probably already know, it can be difficult to function properly without good balance and stability, even if you are not an athlete.
Increased Risk of Movement
The circumference of your calf can be determined by your body’s muscle mass. In other words, low whole-body muscle mass may result in smaller and weaker calves.
If this is the case, it might increase sarcopenia – a loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. This condition can lead to poor mobility issues, disability, and functional impairment.
Persistent Muscle Tiredness
The medical term for muscle tiredness is asthenia. It is a condition where you consistently feel exhausted when using any of your muscles, including the calves.
This is common in people with sleep disorders, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, kidney disease, and chronic heart problems.
Muscle tiredness can result from inadequate energy supply to the muscle.
Gym Exercises for Calf Building
Now that we’ve seen some of the risks of having weak calves, let’s focus on how to build calf muscles.
One of the best ways to do this is using exercises. Here are some workouts you can include in your exercise routines to help you build strong and healthy calf muscles.
#1 Seated Calf Raise (Toes Out)
This workout is performed with a seated calf raise machine.
Seat on the machine and place the balls of your feet on either a step or a block.
For resistance, hold your dumbbells on your thighs.
Let your knees be on a 90-degree angle and turn your toes about 15 degrees out.
Let your heels shift downward towards the floor. Let the drift until your calves feel the stretch.
Now move the balls of your feet to the block or step and raise your heels as high as you can.
#2 Standing Calf Raise
Stand on a calf raise machine with a dumbbell in one hand and support yourself with your other hand by holding onto something.
Bring your heels down toward the floor until there is a stretch on your calves.
Move the balls of your feet into the footplates.
While contracting your calves, raise your heels as far as you can go.
#3 Agility Ladder
Place an agility ladder on the floor and stand at the end of it.
Hop or run from one end of the ladder to the other end.
Do as many reps as you can.
You draw lines on the floor using chalk if you don’t have an agility ladder.
#4 Farmer’s Walk
Hold a weight on each hand and stand straight.
Stand tall with a broad chest, wide shoulders, and don’t rest the weight on your thighs.
Properly engage your calf by walking forward on your toes.
Keep your posture straight and rigid, and be sure that your head is facing forward.
#5 Seated Calf Raise Machine
Sit on a seated calf raise machine.
Do calf raises with your knees and hip in a 90-degree position.
If you do not have access to a calf raise machine, you can sit on a bench with the balls of your feet resting on a step or block.
Place dumbbells on your thighs for resistance and perform the calf raise.
Outdoor Activities for Calf Building
You can build calf muscles without hitting the gym. So, if you don’t have a gym membership, head outside and perform some of these activities.
Hiking: Hiking is an effective way of building your calf muscles and keeping them strong. It helps to improve endurance when you engage the muscles often. Keep in mind that the higher your climb, the more you work your calf muscles. So, don’t hesitate to go higher during your hikes.
Jump Ropes: Skipping is another great and fun way to work your calf muscles. Just get yourself a good skipping rope and a convenient space, and you are good to go! In addition to building and keeping your calves strong, this exercise is great for cardio and also improves balance and coordination.
Bike Ride: Biking seems easy but it can be a very tough exercise that requires a lot of stamina and endurance. To get the best out of this exercise, go uphill when biking. This will help strengthen your calf muscles and keep them in good shape.
Outdoor Yoga: Give a high-energy sweat session a rest and try outdoor yoga. This will help you focus on stability and mobility. Besides working your calf muscles, outdoor yoga can be beneficial for relieving stress and helping your muscles to get ready for more pressure from other tedious workouts.
Jumping Jack: This is another fun session that strengthens the calves. It is easy to do and very convenient. All you need to do is simply stand with your feet together and put your arms by your sides. As you jump, spread out your arms wide while your legs are out too. Return to the start position by bringing your hands and feet together again.
Can Supplements Help to Build Calf Muscles?
Building calf muscles is a process; there is no “miracle” involved. Instead, it takes dedication and lots of effort.
However, some supplements can help the process and make your workouts count. Also, you need to eat a good diet to get the best results.
Here are some of the supplements you may want to consider:
Iron: This is responsible for transporting oxygen to the blood. In turn, it gives your body enough energy to exercise.
Omega-3 fatty acids: These can increase muscle growth during workouts. They contain a healthy amount of muscle-building protein.
Magnesium: This mineral is very important in the functioning of your nerves and muscles. Plus, it can help your muscles repair themselves.
Calcium: We all know that calcium is good for the bones. But it also plays a vital role in muscle contractions and growth.
Zinc – This boosts muscle recovery and fortifies the immune system. Also, zinc can promote muscle growth.
Learning how to build calf muscles requires effort and dedication. Understand that there are no shortcuts.
You need to be ready to do what it takes and also remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle to make your efforts count.
However, if a weak calf muscle poses a serious health challenge, it is best to book an appointment with your doctor.
Justin Rodriguez has spent most of his adult life inspiring people to take their fitness more seriously. He is not new to the business of providing practical solutions for those looking to set and smash their fitness goals. From sharing professional tips and tricks to recommending awesome products, Justin Rodriguez helps just about anyone who wants to get the best out of their workout routines.Having gathered a lot of experience both in and outside the gym, Justin Rodriguez uses DSW Fitness as a medium to show you exactly how to get that great-looking body with toned muscles you’ve always wanted.