Fitness & Training, Strength fitness

Your challenge: To develop muscular, shapely calves

Strengthening your calves brings benefits, whatever your sports take part in. By setting up a targeted training programme in the form of a special calf challenge over 21 days, you will get into good habits which you will then be able to maintain over time to maintain sculpted, shapely calves.

Why would you choose to strengthen your calves?

Whether you take part in running, walking or any other sporting discipline, adding muscle to your calves can only bring you benefits:

  • A reduction in physical fatigue and increased stamina.
  • Stronger tendons and muscles around the tibia and calf bone (or fibula), which helps to limit falls and injuries.
  • A more balanced silhouette; most sporting pursuits place more strain on the thighs than the calves.
  • A better level of shock absorption while running.
  • Optimised blood circulation because with each contraction of the calf, the blood in it is returned to the heart. The more muscular the calves become, the better the venous return they afford.
  • Various additional benefits.

Muscular and sculpted calves: A training programme

To get shapely calves, regularly undertake muscle strengthening exercises and stretches that target the shin region. Stretching is important because it is the act of stretching that will help to slim the legs and make your calves look more streamlined. By performing these 5 exercises that can be done anywhere and without equipment, in increasingly larger numbers of repetitions over 21 days, you will complete your personalised calf challenge. Before each session, remember to warm up well.

Dynamic toes

Standing on tiptoes is the most straightforward way to cause contraction of the calves and give them a nice curved shape. Standing with your back straight and your abdominals clenched, leaning on a chair to maintain balance if necessary, begin by standing on your tiptoes, ideally with your arms at your sides, at first. While keeping your legs straight, hold this position for a second, then come back down. Perform this movement several times in a row: At the start of the challenge, perform a series of 15 reps, then increase them by 5 at each new session. Split sets up by adding 30-second breaks for every 30 reps you do.

Extensions on one foot

The second exercise of the calf challenge works on the same principle but, this time, on one foot. By performing a single leg extension movement, the difficulty is increased a notch. During the extension, bend the other leg back so that it does not get in the way. Here, the back of a chair can truly help you to maintain your balance during the first few attempts. Plan shorter sets at first, starting with 10 repetitions on each side, for example.

The chair against a wall with a heel lift

Adopt a seated position as if you were in a chair with your back flat against a wall, your thighs horizontal and bringing your hands together in front of you to maintain balance. Alternately, lift and rest your right and left heels, holding them in the air for a period of two seconds each time. This exercise also works the thighs and glutes.

A variation of the heel lift to slim the calves

To slim your calves, perform the previous exercise while maintaining the heel in its raised position for longer, for example by as much as 10 to 20 seconds, using the principle of isometric stretching.

Effective stretches for the calves

Stand facing a wall with one leg further back than the other. Lean forward with your hands flat against the wall at face height. Then, step back with one leg while keeping it straight and ensuring the heel is in firm contact with the floor. When you feel the calf stretch, hold the position for 15-20 seconds before switching legs.

Advice: Maintain strong calves over the long term

After the 21 days of the challenge, you will have acquired good habits and your work should begin to bear fruit. It is now a matter of maintaining the benefit of this training and keeping your muscular and shapely calves as they are, thanks to very simple actions that you can do anywhere:

  • Take the stairs in preference to the lift.
  • Go to the shops by bike rather than by car.
  • Do sporting activities that work and refine the calves: Swimming, fitness, dancing, cycling, and so on.
  • Perform a discreet version of the dynamic tips every day: While brushing your teeth, when on the bus, in a queue, and various other situations. You can perform a quick series of going onto your tiptoes without holding the raised position anywhere!

Check out our Fitness & Training page for more advice.