The calves can be difficult muscles to work, but doing exercises on your toes is one of the best ways to isolate them for growth. There are a number of simple exercises done on your toes that will give you the results you want in your calves. Doing these exercises while remaining on your toes isolate the calf muscles. Strong calves allow for more explosive movements, help to prevent ankle injuries and accentuate the shape of your legs.
Seated Calf Raises
The seated calf raise is one of the best exercises to isolate your calves. It is important to adjust the seat of the machine and the foot rest so that you rest comfortably. Your heels will be close to the floor with your toes resting on the foot rest. Lift your heels off the ground to push the weight up, and hold the weight at its highest point for one second. Your calves will be flexed and heels off the ground as far as they will come, with your toes pointed. Slowly bring the weight back down under control until you are again at the starting position. If you do not have access to a machine, this exercise can be done sitting in a chair with weights resting on your thighs and a block or aerobics step placed under the toes.
Standing Calf Raises
Standing calf raises can be done with a barbell or dumbbells. If you are using a barbell, select a weight that you can manage and keep your balance with. Put the barbell across your shoulders like you would for a squat. If you are using dumbbells, hold one in each hand by your sides. Raise up on your toes, pausing at the top of the exercise and returning to the starting position in a controlled manner. This exercises can also be improvised with a wooden block or aerobics step if necessary.
You will need a box stable enough to stand on or stairs that you can take an exaggerated step onto. This exercise can be done with or without dumbbells. Be sure to use a weight you can maintain your balance with. Step onto the box and with the opposite leg drive your knee up as high as you can. Don't allow your heel to touch the box while rolling up on to your toes. The motion should feel similar to jumping off of one foot. Alternate legs to make sure both calves are worked equally.
This might seem like a simple exercise, but jumping rope is one of the best ways to build your calves while staying on your toes. For experienced jump ropers it seems easy, but jump roping takes time and patience. While jumping, stay light on your toes. Once you become skilled enough to jump for long periods without tripping over the rope, it also becomes an excellent cardio exercise. Staying on your toes will focus most of your body weight on your calves building strength and size. Jumping rope has been a staple of boxers and other fighters training to build endurance and strength in their calves.