Improve Your Fitness Routine with Calf Raises
To boost the strength and balance in your lower body, consider adding calf raises to your workout schedule. These simple exercises can be performed just about anywhere and though they may seem insignificant, they yield impressive benefits. Participating in regular calf raises can significantly enhance the strength in your lower back, glutes, subtle foot muscles, and, of course, your calves.
Understanding Calf Raises
A calf raise involves lifting your heels off the ground, balancing on the balls of your feet, and then lowering your heels back down. This simple yet effective exercise actively targets the calf muscles with low impact.
Calf raises are a type of “concentric muscle action” and contributes to strengthening the ankle joint- an essential component for fitness enthusiasts and athletes, explained by John Russolillo, a certified personal trainer at New York Sports Club.
Variations and Modifications in Calf Raises
You can perform calf raises barefoot or with shoes on, standing or sitting, on both legs at once or one leg at a time. For a more challenging workout, try doing them while holding weights. Another technique to advance this exercise is to incorporate it into other exercise moves like glute bridges or sumo squats.
Benefits of Calf Raises
1. Isolated Calf Strength
Calf raises are an excellent way to build muscle strength in the calves, which play a crucial role in various physical movements and positions, both in daily life and during workouts. For those who enjoy running or sprinting, the strength of calves is essential as it enhances performance and helps prevent injuries.
2. Enhanced Foot and Ankle Strength
Introducing calf raises into your workout routine also strengthens the ankle joint and surrounding ligaments and tendons. It also works on the foot muscles that often get overlooked.
3. Improved Body Balance
As the calves are close to the point of contact with the ground, strengthening them can increase body awareness and proprioception, resulting in better balance.
4. Activation of Back Leg Muscles
While calf raises primarily target specific muscle groups, they also activate other muscles along your posterior chain, including glutes and hamstrings.
How to Perform Calf Raises
Before starting, you should set your fitness goal for calf raises and understand your current level of fitness, balance, and strength. As a beginner, it is advised to stand on a flat, stable surface, using a smaller range of motion, and start with both feet on the ground.
Next, you need to decide the number of sets and repetitions you will do. A good starting point for beginners would be three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions of the exercise.
- Stand up straight with feet hip-width apart, engage your core and maintain a neutral spine.
- Lift your heels off the ground, rise onto the balls of your feet.
- Pause for a second at the top, then lower your heels back to the ground in a controlled manner.
- Repeat the process for the desired number of sets and repetitions.