The calves region is a difficult muscle group to exercise, with many individuals scratching their heads after several sets of standing calf raises as to what other exercise variations they can perform to further target these muscles. It is for this reason that the calves region is often neglected and only briefly considered at the end of a strenuous leg session.
The problem is, if you workout your upper body and complete the necessary exercises to develop your thighs, then to finish the body with a pair of chicken legs simply isn’t acceptable! So what else can be done? This article considers a variation possible in the standard standing calf raise.
Your calves region consists of 2 major muscles; those being the gastrocnumius and soleus muscles. The gastrocnemius is the 2 headed superior muscle that you can see when you tense your calf and is responsible for any powerful, high intensity movement which occurs. Conversely, the soleus isn’t visible at all and underlies the main gastrocnemius. The soleus is responsible for allowing you to push off during your gait cycle.
Due to the origin and insertion points of these 2 respective muscles and their primary actions, the gastrocnemius is targetted through the standard straight legged, standing calf raise whilst the soleus is only developed through the bent legged calf raise variation. Consequently, if your calf workout only consists of standard straight legged, standing calf raises, then you’re really only working 50% of the available muscles.
So how do you perform the bent legged calf raise variation? You can perform this either standing up or in a seated position. For the standing up position, ensure that you maintain a bend in your knees at all times. From this position point your toes, lifting your heels from the floor and momentarily hold at the peak before returning to your starting position. This variation requires a large degree of balance, so if you struggle then consider nearby stable objects that could aid support.
For the seated position this may require some creativity depending on whether or not you are a member of a gym and whether they have a seated calf raise machine. If this is not the case then you can simply sit down and place a load across your thigh region, before pointing your toes and lifting your heels off of the floor.
The gastrocnemius is the stronger muscle out of the two and will be able to shift a lot more resistance than its neighboring soleus muscle. Consequently, when performing the bent leg calf raise variation, opt for a smaller load than you would normally for the standing calf raise and progress it gradually over a period of time.
This here marks the end of this article. If previously, your calf workout consisted of only the standard straight legged calf raise then you can now appreciate that only 50% of your muscles within this region were ever targeted. Ensure a fuller, more complete workout by completing both the straight and bent legged variations and take your calf strength and size to the next level.