If you envy women with slender, defined calves and want to show off more toned legs this summer, practice these 5 tips for calf definition from Katie Corkill, a University Park Personal Trainer and Owner of SWEAT Gym in Highland Park.
1. Add jump rope into your fitness routine. Jumping rope is actually a full body workout, working your arms, legs, glutes, abs, shoulders chest and back. While your arms and shoulders control the spin of the rope, your legs get a good workout as you jump at the right speed and height for the rope. Your core, chest and back muscles act as stabilizers during jump rope exercise. In addition to creating definition in your leg’s muscles, jumping rope is also an excellent cardio exercise, and will strengthen your heart and boost your cardiovascular endurance.
2. Always take the stairs. This is a simple change you can make in your daily routine that doesn’t require stepping foot in the gym. Rather than taking the elevator in your workplace or apartment complex, take the stairs instead. If you don’t have stairs in your workplace or home, step on the stair machine at the gym to firm up your calves and glutes.
3. Perform calf raises throughout the day. Calf raises are specifically designed to target the calf muscles and can even be performed “on the go” while you are standing in line at the store. Performing calf raises on a regular basis will strengthen and shape your calf muscles. Standing with the balls and heels of your feet planted firmly on the ground, and your core held in tight, raise your heels a few inches, then lower them back to the ground.
4. As with working any muscle group, take each set to failure to maximize potential muscle growth. “Taking each set to failure” means you continually add reps and weight until you are no longer able to complete the exercise. By challenging yourself and taking strength training reps to failure each time, you will get the most out of your workout.
5. Perform a variety of exercises for the calf. For strong, well-defined calf muscles, you cannot focus on one exercise, but should perform a variety of calf exercises. A few examples include the seated calf raise machine, weighted standing calf raise, and working each calf individually.
Keep in mind that while you may want to focus on strengthening your legs, a healthy balance is the key to your success. You will not see the results you are looking for if you aren’t focused on a lifestyle of healthy eating and regular exercise, working out your entire body, not only your legs.