Moves For Your Calves

An ortho doctor once told me years ago that the key to not developing knee troubles was to have strong calves, hams, and quads.

As a result of how I train and have always trained when I had my complete ortho physical before being cleared to gradually return to heavy training after c-spine fracture (yes, I broke MY neck), the doctor told me that he’s never seen knees like mine. He said “they just don’t move,” as he attempted to jiggle them from side to side.

What else do powerful calves do for you?

You can better sprint.

Jump. Leap. Bound upstairs.

Kick somebody into their next lifetime.

All good things if you’re a cop.

Dancers easily develop their gastrocnemius muscles because they’re at least demi-pointe most of the time while dancing. It’s been a transition for me into martial arts because I’m used to being demi-pointe and bouncing (a good way to get my legs swept out from under me). Gymnasts are used to bouncing…which grows the muscles of the leg all the way up, including the hams. It’s automatic for me to toss myself into the air, even putting my arms into flight position. Staying on the ground is hard to remember! So for you, we’re going to do it the gymnast way….

So yes, this is your basic Standing Calf Raise:

Standing Calf Raise

Everything…..evvvvverything that the dancer/gymnast does is demi-pointe (that is, on the ball of your feet)…. when you SQUAT: squat DEMI. It’s automatic for me. Get into a plie or squat, hold it, just bounce the position demi-pointe slightly….your just moving your butt up & down slightly.

MISTAKES that are made:

All these men saying they want big calves (like mine)…so big on top but skinny-girl calves (you know what I’m talking about). It’s EASY to get developed calves. DO what I said ABOVE and:

  1. **Don’t work your calves only at the end of your workouts. Do them at the beginning of your leg workouts OR

**Work them all the way through…by adopting the demi-position during all your HIIT activities. I don’t even think about it but then notice how most people are actually FLAT-foot during their workouts.


12 reps only…no good. 20…no good. So drop your weight if you need to…to really get calves, we’re talking reps of 30+. Honestly, I’d go for 50. I know that sounds insane…but if you can’t calf-raise on stairs with dumbells in each hand THEN do it empty-handed. You WILL get a burn and this is GOOD.

Lighter weights mean you’re able to fully contract your calves which you NEED to do.

You walk on those calves. Your calves carry your body weight all day long. So you have to REP THEM HARD. They’re used to a good punishing…


The weight doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be: TOO heavy. You MUST fully contract and stretch those calves with complete range of motion.

KEEP tensing until you’ve returned to START.


One leg on barre (or countertop), the other in demi (or even flat for beginning)…slight bounce. You’ll be ready to die soon in. You don’t need any weight…there’s plenty here with your own body weight especially while standing on only one leg. You can be facing the bar or standing to the side with one leg on the barre.


Do some at the beginning of a workout: after your warm-up.

More coming! 🙂


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