Muscle names can seem complicated and are often hard to pronounce, let alone remember. Many muscle names come from ancient Greek or Latin which was fine at the time but makes these terms challenging in the 21st Century. The triceps surae is another name for your calf muscles: the gastrocnemius and soleus. These muscles attach to your heel bone via your Achilles tendon and their main job is pointing your ankle downward in a movement called plantar flexion. The triceps surae is very important in running and jumping activities.
Standing Calf Raise Machine
This gym classic is an effective way to build and strengthen your calf muscles. Place your shoulders beneath the pads of the standing calf press machine and place the balls of your feet on the step. With straight legs, lower your heels down as far as you comfortably can and then push up on to your tip-toes. Imagine you are trying to peek over a neighbor's fence. Perform 15 to 20 repetitions and then rest.
Body Weight Calf Raises
This exercise is similar to using the calf raise machine at your gym but can be performed anywhere you have a suitable step on which to stand. Place the balls of your feet on the edge of a sturdy step, such as the one at the bottom of your stairs at home. Use the wall or handrail for balance. Lower your heels as far down as possible and then push back up and onto your tip-toes. Make this exercise more demanding by holding a weight in one hand or using one leg at a time.
Ankle jumps will improve triceps surae power. Where slow-paced exercises like calf raises are good for developing strength and endurance, if you want to increase muscle power you have to work at a higher velocity. Stand with your feet together and a slight bend in your knees. Jump vertically as high as you can. Land on the balls of your feet and repeat. The key to this exercise is using your knees and thigh muscles as little as possible and focusing on using your ankles instead.
Walking up long or steep hills is an effective leg and lung exercise and will also develop your calves. Make uphill walking more demanding by wearing a back pack or weighted vest. Uphill walking can be performed outdoors on roads and trails or indoors on a treadmill. Make sure you lower your heel all the way to the floor on each step and focus on pushing up on to and then off of your toes to maximize the work done by your calf muscles.
- Atlas of Skeletal Muscles; Judith A. Stone and Robert J. Stone
- Strength Training Anatomy; Frederic Delavier
- The Complete Book of Butt and Legs; Kurt Brungardt
Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. A lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a contributor to "Ultra-FIT" magazine and has been involved in fitness for more than 22 years. He authored the books "Military Fitness", "Live Long, Live Strong" and "No Gym? No Problem!" and served in the Royal Marines for five years.