Shapely Calf Muscles
Takeoff, acceleration, speed and jumping ability all begin in your lower legs.
Essential to physical activities that require running and jumping movements, your lower legs also have a major influence on throwing movements.
Surprisingly, the ankle's movement is more important than the knee's in running and jumping, because your ankle creates more force.
The bulk of all the lower leg muscles is located fairly close to your knee.
Kinesiology & Physiology
It's been said that you can work calf and ab muscles every day because they recover quickly. True, these smaller muscles bounce back faster than the major muscle groups, but there's no escaping the fact that muscle growth results from alternating hard stimulation with passive recovery. If you train calves a little bit every day you won't stimulate the muscles or allow them to recuperate fully. The perfect plan for designing muscular calves is to focus on them twice a week, along with the thighs, hamstrings and glutes, which require 72 hours to recover.
Standing Calf Raises
Rise up on the balls of your feet as high as possible, then lower back down. For greater range of motion, place a block under the balls of your feet. This lowers your heels when you drop back down, stretching your Achilles tendon and putting tension on the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. A weighted barbell across your shoulders will make this exercise more difficult - and more effective.
Standing Calf Raises Demonstration
Seated Calf Raises
The procedure is the same as for standing calf raises, but you're seated. Seated calf raises aren't effective in strengthening the gastrocnemius, which is best worked while standing. But they do wonders for the soleus muscle.
Seated Calf Raises Demonstration
Donkey Calf Raises
Bend over, with the balls of your feet balanced on the edge of a large, solid block, and have your partner sit on your back right above your pelvis, for resistance
It's cumbersome, but effective.
The donkey calf raise has traditionally been done with the training partner sitting astride your hips. You had to have fairly strong arms and legs to handle the additional weight and to hold yourself in good balance. Today, however, you can use the donkey calf raise machine. It makes execution much easier and also allows you to do variations on the basic exercise.
Donkey Calf Raise Demonstration
Hack Squat Calf Extension
This exercise is very similar to a standing calf raise. In this variation, however, you use the hack squat machine as the resistance. Stand facing the hack squat machine - your knees and hips are locked; your body is perfectly straight. Place the balls of your feet on a block positioned at the base of the machine the arches and heels of your feet should be extended off the block. Flex the feet, pivoting at the ankles, to stretch the calves. And back down again to contract the calves.