Exercises for Building Calf Muscles

The calves are made up of two major muscles: the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The gastrocnemius gives your calves a rounded, defined appearance, and the soleus defines your calves along the sides of your legs. These muscles should be trained using compound and targeted exercises alike to tone your lower legs.

Plie With Calf Raise

Piles with calf raises will tone your thighs, glutes and calves. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder distance apart, with your toes facing out. Engage your abdominals, and sink into a plie until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Stay deep in the plie, and raise your right heel off the floor, then lower your right heel. Raise your left heel off the ground, and lower again to complete one rep. Perform three sets of 20 reps, returning to starting position in between each set.

Standing Calf Raise

Standing calf raises tone your hamstrings, glutes and both muscles of your calves. Stand with your feet hip distance apart, holding an 8- to 10-pound dumbbell in each hand. Engage your abdominals as you lift your heels to rise onto the balls of your feet. Slowly lower back down to complete one rep. Perform three sets of 15 reps. For an extra challenge, perform the calf raises while standing on one foot to work one calf at a time.

Seated Calf Raise

Seated calf raises target the soleus calf muscle. Sit in a chair, with your knees and feet hip-distance apart, your toes resting on an aerobics step or a thick book and your heels touching the ground. Place an 8- to 10-pound dumbbell on your thighs, close to your knees. Squeeze your calves to raise your heels off the ground until your feet are pointed, then slowly lower back to starting position. Complete three sets of 15 reps.

About this Author

Louise Tremblay recently finished an M.Sc. in molecular and cellular biology in Ontario, Canada, and is new to freelance writing. She has experience writing articles and Web content on science, heath and fitness, diet and personal wellness.