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25-Minute Calf Workout

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 25-Minute Calf Workout

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Calves are one of the most challenging muscle groups to build. Genetics plays a major role in calf development. Though if you are not genetically gifted, it’s not the end all be all. Committing to the right training program for your calves can help you build and grow them effectively.

Lower Leg Calf Workouts

The calves, located on the back of the lower leg, are a posterior chain muscle group. They are often neglected during many training programs because they don’t grow as large as other muscles in the body. But do not get discouraged if you have underdeveloped calves. Instead, learn the anatomy of the calf muscle so you can target them during training. 

There are two main muscles that make up the calf. These are the gastrocnemius and soleus. The gastrocnemius is the larger of the two. It is the muscle that you can see the most of when looking at developed calves. It plays a role in plantar flexion of the foot and knee flexion.

The soleus is the smaller of the two. It also plays a role in plantar flexion of the foot. Though to target the soleus calf muscle you must have your knees bent. When performing seated calf raises, you are targeting more of the soleus. Whereas standing calf raises will target the gastrocnemius. This is because your knees are flexed when seated and straight when standing. This determines which muscle is most active.

The Workout

This workout includes strength and muscle-building exercises for the calf muscles. The suggested variations may include different angles in which to target the calves. They will also offer varying levels of difficulty depending on your fitness level. You will need just 25 minutes to complete the entire workout.

The Warm-up

Every workout should start with a warm-up to prepare your body for movement and help prevent injury. 

#1 Calf Raise to Dorsiflexion

In an upright position, stand on your toes and perform plantar flexion of the foot. Slowly lower your heels back down towards the ground. Once your heels reach the ground, lift your toes or pull the top of the foot up off the ground. Rotate between plantar flexion and dorsiflexion. Plantar flexion involves lifting the whole body. While dorsiflexion involves just lifting the foot. Repeat for 45 seconds. 

#2 Running In Place

Start by lifting one arm and your opposite leg. Then switch to the opposite arm and leg. Repeat as a continuous movement without traveling forward. Be sure to bring your knees to hip level. Repeat for 45 seconds.  

#3 Jump Rope

Start swinging the jump rope overhead and lightly jump over the rope each time. Jump high enough to allow the rope to go under the feet. Perform jumps and continue to use your arms to propel the jump rope overhead. Jump rope for 60 seconds. 

#4 Stair Run

Find a set of stairs you can run up and down. If you don’t have access to stairs, try walking lunges. Perform for 45 seconds.

The Calf Workout

#1 Standing Calf Raise

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 25-Minute Calf Workout , Stand Calf Raise

In a standing position, slowly raise your heels off the ground. Push through the balls of your feet and squeeze your calves. Keep your legs straight without locking out your knees completely. For extra resistance, hold weights to the side of the body or place a barbell on your back. You can change the angle you target the calves by turning your heels in or out. Perform 3 sets of 20 reps. Rest for no more than 30 seconds.

#2 Single Leg Calf Raise

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 25-Minute Calf Workout , Single Leg Calf Raise

In a standing position, lift one leg off the ground. Now, slowly raise your opposite heel off the ground. Standing on the ball of your foot, squeeze your calf. Keep your leg straight without locking out your knee. For extra resistance, hold a weight on the side of the body in which the foot is on the ground. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps on each leg. Rest for no more than 30 seconds.

#3 Hack Squat Calf Raise

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 25-Minute Calf Workout , Half Squat Calf Raise

Position your feet shoulder-width apart on a hack squat machine. Your heels should safely hang off the bottom of the platform. Once you are in a secured position, place the load on the body. Keep your legs straight and perform calf raises by pressing through the platform. Raise your heels up as high as possible. Allow them to come down, even past the platform to stretch the calves. Then repeat for 3 sets of 15 reps. Rest for no more than 30 seconds.

#4 Seated Calf Raises

Secure your legs in a seated calf raise machine. Once the weight and pad are secure on top of your leg, unlatch the safety pin. Now, let your heels drop below the foot platform. Raise your heels back up as high as possible. Make sure to squeeze the back of the legs at the top of the motion. This seated position will target the soleus muscle in the calf because your knees are bent. Perform 3 sets of 20 reps. Rest for no more than 30 seconds.

The Cool Down

Your calves should be burning after that workout! Now is the best time to stretch, especially following these calf exercises. The following stretches will help you cool down and keep your calves loose. This will lead to better recovery and prevent future injury. 

#1 Standing Hamstring Stretch

This hamstring stretch can be performed on any object that you can place your foot on. Reach for your toes and lean into the leg you have elevated. Allow the stretch to take place in the back of the leg. If you are more flexible, bring your head towards your knee to stretch even more. The calves and hamstrings run alongside the back of the leg. This will target both muscle groups. Hold for 30 seconds on each leg. 

#2 Steps Calf Stretch

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 25-Minute Calf Workout , Steps Calf Stretch

Find a small platform or elevation. Place the ball of your foot on the stair and let your heel hang off. Allow the heel to stretch all the way to the ground if possible. Let your calf stretch for 30 seconds then switch to the other leg.

#3 Calf Foam Roll

Lastly, soft tissue massage is an effective approach to alleviate muscle soreness. More importantly, it helps break up muscle adhesions. Foam rolling the calves is an effective way to recover and address tight muscles. Place both legs on the foam roller. Roll back and forth for 10 repetitions. If you need more pressure, cross one leg over the other and perform 10 reps on each leg. 

Great work! You have completed the calf workout all in 25 minutes!

Expand Your Workout

Are you looking to learn more about how to effectively build the calf muscle? Check out these blogs: 

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