When it comes to toning the body, the upper body, abs and thighs steal all the attention. Calves get no respect, but they shouldn’t be ignored–especially if you like walking, running or jumping. The two muscle groups in the calves–the gastrocnemius and the soleus–basically allow you to flex and lift your heels. Keep them toned and you’ll move better and prevent injuries. Plus, toned calves look great.
5 Jump Rope
You can have tone calves, but if there’s fat round them, no one will be able to admire them. Jumping rope not only tones the calves, but also burns the fat. You don’t even have to have a jump rope; simulate the motions just by doing the jumps and arm movements. The advantage to this method is that you don’t need equipment–and you never miss. With both feet under your hips, jump a few inches off the floor landing on your toes. Jump again without letting the heels come down. Move the arms in a circular motion at your side to simulate holding a rope. Jump continuously for 30 to 60 seconds, rest for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat for five to 10 sets. Or, if you want it to be a part of your cardiovascular workout, jump rope for 30 minutes and burn a whopping 350 calories.
4 Single Calf Raises
If you worry that one calf is doing all the heavy lifting while the other is being lazy, the single calf raise will fix that. Single calf raises work one calf at a time and have the added benefit of improving balance. Stand on the edge of an exercise step holding a dumbbell in your right hand. If balance is an issue, place the step near a wall or other solid support and use your left hand to keep steady. Adjust your right foot so that the heel is hanging off the edge of the step. Lower your right heel, then press up on the ball of your foot, holding for a count before lowering. Move slowly and with control. Do a complete set of 10 to 20, then switch legs. Do a total of two sets.
3 Seated Calf Raise
The seated calf raise tones the lower calf muscles, giving you longer-looking, sexier calves. Adjust the weight accordingly, then sit on the machine with your knees under the pads and the balls of your feet on the footrest. Lower your heels, then raise them, pushing the thigh pads up with the balls of your feet. Hold for a count, then lower to the start. Do two sets of 10 to 20 repetitions and feel the burn.
2 Calf Press
Look great in shorts or skirts by toning the calves using a leg press machine. Adjust the weight according to your calf strength; you’ll be moving only through the ankle, not the hips and knees. Sit on the machine with your feet on the foot plate. For maximum results, let your heels hang over the edge. Hold on to the side handles and press the plate up, extending your legs. Keeping your legs straight, push the platform further using the balls of your feet. Release your feet, but keep the legs straight to return to the start position. Repeat, doing two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
1 Standing Calf Raise
The standing calf does a great job at targeting the calves. Using a standing calf raise machine, adjust the weight for your strength level. If you’re not sure what weight to use, start low and increase it if the exercise is too easy. Stand with the balls of your feet on the calf bar and your shoulders under the pads. Keep your knees straight, but not locked. Trainers vary on whether to start in the up or down position, suggesting that either is acceptable. Let your heels drop down to stretch the calves, then press up onto your toes to engage the calves. Hold for a second, lower, then do 10 ten repetitions. Rest a little bit, then do another set.