There are two major muscles in the calf area. One is gastrocnemius and the other is soleus. Gastrocnemius is larger in size, located in the top region of the calf, and controls knee movements. The smaller muscle soleus is present near the heel and controls ankle movements. Thus, these muscles play a major role in leg movement while walking, running, etc.
The problem most women face is that, with increase in age, large amount of fat tends to get accumulated in the calf area, making it go out of shape. For this reason, suitable calf exercises should be performed to tone and shape the muscles of this area.
Calf Exercises for Women at Home
Women who are not very fond of hitting the gym regularly for calf exercises are keen on doing some simple exercises at home. One of the simplest exercises, which can be done at home is jumping rope. It is very effective for improving the muscle mass of the calves, and you can do it for about 3 - 5 minutes everyday. Following are a few calf-toning exercises.
- Let us begin with calf stretching exercises. Stand 2 feet away from a wall with your feet placed flat on the ground and toes pointed at the wall.
- Rest your forearms on the wall, and lean forward without bending your body. Place your forearms in such a position that you can rest your head on it.
- Bring the right foot forward, and bend it at the knee. Remember to keep the left leg straight.
- Now, slowly move the hip to the front so that you can feel the stretch in the back region of the left leg.
- Hold this position for about 15 seconds and then release the stretch. Repeat the exercise by placing the left leg in the front and right leg behind.
- Sit straight on the edge of a chair with your feet lying flat on the ground and hands placed on the thighs.
- Next, raise both your heels as much as you can so that your feet are in a tiptoe position. Now, exert some pressure with your palms on the top of the thighs.
- Hold this posture for around 10 seconds, and then, bring your heels down to the original position. While lowering the heels, continue to press the thighs with your hands.
- This exercise will not only strengthen the calf muscles but will also shape them attractively.
- Stand on the step of a stairway, and hold the stair rails for support. Position your feet on the edge of the step in such a way that the back part of the feet, i.e, the heels are hanging out of the step.
- Next, bend your legs at the knees, and let the heels move in the downward direction. Ensure that the knees are bent, but the upper body remains straight.
- Even your hips should not be pushed backwards. Then, gradually raise your feet up as much as you can. This drill can be repeated 5 - 10 times as per your convenience.
- Stand straight in front of a chair or counter keeping your feet together. You need this chair or counter as support for maintaining the body balance during the exercise.
- Slowly, raise the toes as much as you can, and bring it down to the ground. While lowering your toes, you must have enough control so that you do not end up crashing your heels violently on the ground.
- While lowering the toes, if the knees are slightly bent, there is no harm. This exercise can be performed in a sitting position too.
Some Gym-specific Exercises
- If you are looking for some exercises without the use of weights, then you must use a stationary bike.
- Apart from being a good cardio workout, it provides the right kind of resistance to the calf muscles. You can adjust the resistance level of your bike as per your convenience.
- For best results, try cycling on the bike for at least half an hour.
Dumbbell Calf Raise
- Stand on the ground with your head and back straight, and position your feet about shoulder width apart.
- Hold dumbbells in both the hands, and let the hands hang on the sides. Now, lift your heels and stand on your toes.
- Hold this position for 2 seconds, and you can feel a squeeze in the calf region. Then, get back to the starting position.
- You can repeat it 8 - 10 times. You must be careful while doing this exercise so that you do not lose control and fall down.
- Normally, a leg press machine is used to tone the thigh muscles, but you can use it for the calf muscles as well.
- The only difference is that you have to put the balls of the feet on the bottom of the push plate where you usually place the heels.
- After you sit in the machine, start pushing the plate with your toes and balls of the feet. It can be repeated around 10 - 12 times.
- Calf raise machine is widely used to perform calf exercises. Sit on the machine and let the pad rest on your thighs.
- Put your feet on the platform in such a way that the balls of the feet are placed on it and the heels hang off.
- Go up on your toes to lift the weight. Raise your heels completely so that you can feel the contraction in the calf muscles. When you are lowering the weight, make sure you do it gradually.
Perform these mentioned exercises at least two times in a week to keep your calf muscles in the right shape. While exercising, keep a few basic things in mind. Breathe freely and do not hold your breath while exercising. Hold any posture only for as long as you are comfortable. Do not push yourself too hard, else you may end up with an injury.
Disclaimer: Always consult a physician before starting any physical fitness program in order to reduce the risk of injury.