Whether you want to run faster or have an easier time walking in sky-high heels, you need strong calf muscles. Located on the backs of your lower legs, the calves consist of two main muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus. Both function to lift your heel, with the gastrocnemius working harder when your leg is straight and the soleus working harder when your knee is bent. Seated calf raises with a barbell placed over your knees for resistance can help make the calf muscles strong and agile.
Place a block or exercise step 12 to 18 inches in front of a workout bench. Sit on the bench and place your toes on the block, allowing your heels to hang over the edge. Position your legs hip-distance apart.
Lay a barbell on top of your thighs close to the knees, but not lying directly on the knees. Lower your heels toward the floor as far down as they will go. You should feel a stretch in the backs of your lower legs.
Push through your toes and the balls of your feet to lift your heels up toward the ceiling. Allow the heels to rise as high as possible. You will likely feel the calf muscles contract.
Hold the contraction for one count, then lower your heels back to the starting position. Perform 10 to 12 repetitions.
- Move through the repetitions in a slow controlled manner, taking time to pause for one count at the bottom and top of the exercise.
- Do not place the barbell directly on the knees.
- Consult a physician before starting a new exercise program.
Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.