A person training for a marathon or even just to strengthen their lower body it’s incomplete without strengthening their calves. When it comes to training your calves, calf raises are the best way to go about and today we will uncover the benefits of calf raises.
Calves raise is a finisher exercise on leg day for most people, if you’re using a treadmill or skipping as your leg day finisher…GREAT but It won’t be enough to stimulate your calves’ muscles and achieving that hard-as-rock calves would remain a dream. Before your calves get better you would have to walk on the long road known as “Post leg workout soreness”. Jokes aside before we get into the benefits, here’s just a quick overview on how to do perfect calf raises.
How to do calf raises
- Start by standing with your feet positioned shoulder width apart and slightly bending your knees. Make sure your shoulder should be directly above your hips with a neutral spine and head movement. Your chin should be tucked under throughout the movement.
- Stand by holding two dumbbells by your sides, you can even do it without any weights that would let you get a good muscle-mind connection and stimulate your calves muscles.
- Place the ball of your feet on an elevated surface such as weight plate or exercise steps.
- Now with your toes pointing forward, raise your heel off the floor and push yourself towards the ceiling, go as high as you can and then contract your calves muscle.
- Hold that position for a second & slowly start to lower your heels.
Try to do at least 2-3 sets of 15 to 20 reps. I do prefer doing standing calf raises with no weight but I do increase the number of reps and sometimes if I’m in hurry, I try to do them with weights that would allow me to maintain the form and decrease the number of reps. Calves raises is not a cardio move so don’t try to speed up your way through the exercise
I like to go with the No shoe policy for some exercise, one of them being calves raises. Your shoes may look good with your outfit but it does provide cushions and spring support and that totally demolishes the plan of targeting the calves muscles. Now there are many variations for such a simple exercise that should be left for some other day, now back to the benefits of calf raises.
Note – The standing calf raise targets primarily the gastrocnemius, one of the two primary calf muscles. When a calf raise is done seated, with the knees bent, you are primarily working the soleus. Targeting both of these muscles is important for the overall growth of the calf muscles.
If you still have doubts about calf raises, a study published in the journal of applied physiology claims that including calf raises in your workout and doing them will help you get better body balance and muscular structure. If you’re still against the calf raisers, below mentioned 5 benefits of calf raises should be able to change your mind so without any further ado let’s jump right in.
Benefits of calf raises
An athlete Incorporating calf raises in his/her workout can expect to see the following benefits…
- Ankle strength and stability
If you’re a person who is suffering from a recurring or chronic pain outside of the ankle that has been developed due to past trauma or injury, the most common way to identify if you have a weak ankle would be to notice if your ankle is rolling to the outside or have sore ankle most of the time. If you’re someone like this then calf raises can be a medicine for you.
Ankle stability is affected due to various factors one of them would be the strength of the calf muscles, which are responsible for plantar flexion (related to the sole of the foot) of the ankle. Regular calf raises will help you increase strength and faster muscle contraction which, in turn, will help you increase the ability of your ankle. Not to mention, a study published in the journal Clinical Intervention in Aging stresses the importance of doing calf raises for stronger ankles.
2. Lower body performance
The strength of the lower body is very important because lower body muscle creates a strong & stable foundation. Also if you have a hard time doing heavy squats it might be the time to look at your calves’ strengths because strong calves’ muscles and ankle stability have a direct impact on your ability to squat.
When a person has weak calves muscles, the responsibility of plantar flexion would be handled poorly and that would have a direct impact on ankle stability. It would decrease your ability to forcefully extend the knees and hips since they are supported by the footing and the grip on the floor. Due to these reasons increasing the strength of the calves muscles is very important to some people like powerlifters, and professional athletes. Some of them have a dedicated workout session just towards training their calves muscles. So if you still think that you can ignore calves muscle and still hope to increase your lower body strength, you’re dead wrong.
3. Running performance
Being a runner and not catching a muscle spasm is a dream, doing calf raises won’t guarantee it but yes the numbers would go down of spasms as well as injuries. How long the strides are? How do your feet land on the ground? all these questions may not be important to you but for a runner, they can be the deciding factor.
While you running and sprinting both performances would depend upon your hamstrings and glutes muscles but training your calves muscles will make them stronger and with each lift, you will blow explosives as your run that is for a short duration like sprinting. When running as your feet land on the ground with force our calf’s muscles are responsible for absorbing the impact force and also help with the smooth landing with a great plantar flexion.
Also, if you’re a beginner marathon runner, you would suffer from muscle soreness that kicks in after the marathon. For some people that soreness can be too much and it can make the simplest movement painful. Doing calf raises would make sure that you won’t suffer from this problem.
4. Lower risk of injury
If anything that helps you prevent physical pain and suffering that should be worth doing and that is one of the benefits of calf raises. Weak ankles and calve muscles can create issues with the manner of one’s walking style and also increase destabilization while performing physical activities such as running, squatting, jumping, etc.
Acknowledging these weaknesses and trying to overcome that by doing calve raises would help you get rid of the problems like destabilization and provide an increase in athletic ability. All these points will overall help you avoid injuries while in the field.
5. Bigger better calves muscles
You must have the term “Chicken leg”. You would fall into that gang if you don’t train your calves at all. Standing calves raises may look like a simple exercise with no such impact but you’re wrong it can help you increase the size of your calves by helping you achieve muscle hypertrophy.
While some people on the internet would say that they don’t care about the calves’ muscles but deep down they do want it. You can have that by just being on a steady diet and including standing calf raises and seated calf raises in your workout, within a few weeks you will start to notice the positive change in your calves muscles. Having rock-hard calves can be the key to building better legs.
6. Good for joints
Knee pain is something most people can relate to, just a few minutes of physical activity, and right around the corner it is the “Knee pain”. One of the reasons for it is weak calves muscles. For example, let us take an exercise like a burpee, whenever you perform a vertical jump and land while completing one rep of a burpee if you don’t land with proper form the impact with the ground can put pressure on your knee joints. This same logic applies to many exercises such as running, jumping ropes, jumping jacks, etc.
Doing calf raises can help you with weak joints, a study published in PM & R: The Journal of Injury, Function, and Rehabilitation states that doing calf exercises can improve your joint health and they would work like a well-oiled machine. This sums up the benefits of calf raises.
These all benefits of calf raises would help you improve your lower body health but don’t just rely on them get in touch with your personal trainer and create a workout plan to overall increase your strength and improve the health of your body. If doing calf raises hurts you should stop and get in touch with your doctor, It might be something else.