Everyone wants shapely calves, but not many of us regularly train our lower legs. (With the glutes, hamstrings and quads monopolizing so much of our focus, who has time?) But consciously working the ankles and calf muscles should be part of every smart woman’s training plan, and in fact, neglecting your lower legs could take you out of the training game completely.
Consciously training and stretching your lower leg will improve the strength and stability of your ankle in all directions, which translates into doing more reps, lifting more weight and working harder. The ankle joint is involved in every squatting and stepping movement, and it is a key part of just about every athletic endeavor.
So tear your focus away from your bum for a while and give your lower legs some love. The rewards will be sweet. Do this calf and ankle workout as part of your warm-up on leg-training day or before any lower-body-dominant sports. Afterward, spend some more time foam rolling and stretch your ankles and calves thoroughly.
|Calf Foam Rolling||1||90 seconds each leg|
|Wall Ankle Rock||2||5 each side|
|Jump and Stick||2||5 each side|
|Squatting Toe Rocker||2||5|
|Dumbbell Single-Leg Calf Raise||3||8 each leg|
Calf Foam Rolling:
- Sit on the floor with the roller under one calf and cross your other leg over top the first.
- Place your palms on the floor on either side of your hips and lift your hips up off the floor.
- Roll up and down along your calf while supporting your weight on your hands.
- Find the knots and hot spots in your calf and hold, breathing deeply.
Wall Ankle Rock:
- Stand facing a wall with your feet staggered and your front foot about an inch away from the wall.
- Place your hands on the wall for balance and lean forward.
- Press both heels into the ground, then bend your forward knee over your toes as far as you can without letting your heel rise.
- Pause briefly, then return to the start.
- Complete all reps before switching sides.
- Stand with your feet together and your knees slightly bent, arms at your sides.
- Spring up and down as quickly as you can, staying light on your toes and jumping only 1 to 2 inches off the ground.
Jump and Stick:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides.
- Jump off the floor with both feet, but land on one, bending your knee to cushion the impact.
- Hold briefly and balance before placing your other foot back down.
- Repeat, alternating sides.
Squatting Toe Rocker:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, chest up and head neutral.
- Kick your hips back, then drop your glutes down until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
- Hold here and lift your heels, shifting your weight onto your toes.
- Then sit back onto your heels and lift your toes.
- Flatten your feet and stand back up to complete one rep.
Dumbbell Single-Leg Calf Raise:
- Hold a dumbbell in one hand and stand on top of a plyo box or step with the ball of one foot on the edge, heel hanging off.
- Use your free hand to grab something stable, and cross your free foot behind at the ankle.
- Let your heel drop down as much as possible, getting a good stretch, then push up onto your tiptoes, pausing for one second at the top.
- Drop back down into your heel to complete one rep.
- Do all reps on one side before switching.