Calf raises are a popular strength training exercise. You can do them as a bodyweight exercise, using only the weight of your own body to train your calves or as a weighted exercise with dumbbells. A barbell, or ankle weights provide additional resistance for muscle strengthening purposes. Check with your doctor prior to beginning any new form of training.
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To properly perform a calf raise, stand near a wall with your hands on the wall for support and balance. Lift one foot off the ground, pointing it behind you. Rise up on the ball of your other foot as high as you can go. Lower back down to the ground, not allowing your heel to touch the ground in between repetitions. Perform one set of 10 to 12 repetitions. Switch legs and perform one set on the other leg. Do three sets on each leg, alternating legs to give your muscles a recovery period. Master a calf raise in this setting prior to adding any resistance to the exercise.
One of the benefits of calf raises is improved muscular strength. The muscles in your calf are your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. Your gastrocnemius, the larger of the two muscles, runs from the bottom of your thigh bone down to your Achilles tendon. Your soleus, located underneath your gastrocnemius, starts at the top of your tibia in your lower leg and also attaches to your Achilles tendon. Calf raises will not only strengthen these two muscles, they will also give definition to your lower leg, improving its appearance.
Rehabilitate Achilles Tendon
Calf raises are often used as a rehabilitative exercise for Achilles tendon injuries. Whether you have a Achilles tear or Achilles tendonitis, by strengthening your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles you can reduce the amount of stress on your Achilles tendon and help it heal. An important companion to calf raises when rehabilitating an Achilles injury is calf stretching. After performing your calf raises at the wall, simply extend one leg straight behind you with your heel pressed into the ground. Keep both toes facing the wall as you lean forward stretching out the muscles you just worked with calf raises.
Athletes who participate in basketball, track, cheerleading and gymnastics are always looking for ways to jump higher. Calf raises are one answer to this quest. By building stronger gastrocnemius and soleus muscles with calf raises you can increase your vertical jump. According to the Sports Fitness Advisor website, a training program that includes calf raises can help you increase your vertical by as much as 12 inches. Be careful not to over train your calf muscles with calf raises. Take one day off between each training session so your calves can recover and rebuild, growing stronger.