Lower leg workouts are just as important for our legs as workouts for the upper legs and bum. Having strong calf and ankle muscles will reduce the risk of injury in most activities, and increase our upper leg strength as well. These lower leg workouts are great for the calves, knees, and some are even good for our thighs! Try adding some of these into your weekly schedule for some killer calves and super strong gams!
1. Calf Raises
Calf raises are one of the most iconic lower leg workouts. This exercise will tone your calf, feet, and ankle muscles all in one. Begin by standing straight up with feet together and arms at your side or holding something for balance. Slowly raise up so you are in an elevated position on the balls of your feet and your toes. Hold this position, then slowly lower back down to starting. Your legs will be feeling the burn after just a few of these.
2. Jump Twists
This exercise was recently featured in Jillian Michaels Beach Body Workout in the May issue of Shape Magazine. Jump Twists are great for the lower calf muscles and core. Stand straight up with feet together and arms at your side. Begin by jumping in the air and twisting the upper body to the left and the lower body to the right. Land in this twisted position, then jump up again, alternating your twisting motion with every jump.
3. Split Leg Squat
The split leg squat will work your knees, thighs, and calf muscles. Place a chair about two feet behind you and rest your left foot on the seat while the right foot extended forward in a lunge position. Slowly bend the right leg to a 90 degree angle, making sure your knee does not extend past your foot. Hold this position, then rise back up.
4. Box Jumps
This exercise only works if you have something sturdy enough to handle your whole weight and tall enough that you feel comfortable jumping on it. To complete this cardio exercise, stand straight up and place a step or box directly in front of your feet. Bend your legs and use both feet to jump off the ground and onto the box. Once on the box, jump back down to starting position. Box jumps are great for our calf muscles and for melting unwanted fat away.
5. Elevated Bridge Pose
Elevated bridge pose does wonders for our posterior and our calves! Lay on the floor with legs bent and feet on the ground. Tuck your shoulders under and lift your torso off the ground so only your shoulders, neck, head, and feet are touching the floor. Elevate your feet so your heel is off the ground and the toes and balls of your feet are holding your weight. Hold this position, then slowly come back down. Be sure to keep your pelvis as high as possible during this entire exercise.
6. One Legged Hop
These will work your entire leg, but leave your calves feeling an extra burn. Stand straight up with feet hip width apart. Lift the left leg off the ground, trying to keep your thigh parallel to the floor during the entire exercise. Begin hopping up and down on your right foot. Continue this for at least thirty seconds, then alternate to the left side.
7. Plie Calf Raises
These are very similar to calf raises, but with a bit higher intensity. Stand straight up with feet shoulder width apart and rotated outward (like second position in ballet). Bend your legs so they are at a 45 degree angle, making sure to keep your torso straight and your bum tucked in. Slowly raise your heels off the ground so only your toes and the balls of your feet are on the floor. Hold this position, then slowly lower back down. Plie calf raises work the outer calf muscles and the ankles.
These calf exercises are guaranteed to give our legs a sturdy foundation without unwanted bulky muscles. You can try adding a few of these to your fitness routine a week, or making a massive calf workout including all seven! Which do you prefer, a full body workout or working one specific area?