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10 high-performance calf exercises | T nation



Powerful Calves: The Performance Benefit

Those who train primarily for aesthetic reasons naturally focus on calf growth, but it is far less common for athletes to work on their calves. And that's a shame, because that could give them an advantage.

Investigations on the strength of 1 RM in calf enhancement and sprint performance have shown significant correlations in both absolute and relative strengths (1). The researchers concluded that "the dynamic maximum calf strength is a prerequisite for short sprints and should be considered as a performance reserve."

These results are not surprising as the plantar flexion of the ankle is involved in actions such as sprinting, jumping, cutting and so on. For athletes and those who want to perform well, calf training should be a breeze.

But if you think directly of the traditional calf machines, you will need an update. There are some powerful calf boosters that you need to add to your arsenal.

What about standard calf breeding?

Performance-oriented training is all about transfer. You do not want to spend a lot of time on an exercise that does not really translate the benefits into your sport. The transfer of training is based on the application of the principle of specificity.

The main problem with traditional calf raises is that you end up rolling more fingers on your little toes while lifting your heels.

  Calf Raise

Make a standing bodyweight calf raise and see for yourself. However, that does not happen when you run and run. As your back foot propels you forward, roll more weight toward your big toe as you plant Plantarflex.

So do not throw out your normal calf raises if you like them. They can also offer potential performance benefits. To get a more complete approach, add these exercises to the bottom of the mix as they better reproduce the way your foot presses into the floor while walking or running.

Walking Calf Raise

This exercise combines a farmer's walk with a calf raiser. Since every move involves moving both up and down, the plantar flexion action is more like walking and running.

Ankle Squeeze Calf Raise

I learned this exercise from strength trainer Ingrid Marcum. Start with your feet and squeeze the ankle bones as you raise your calves. If you try to keep your ankles together while raising your heels, you can not move your weight towards the little toes. They force you to do the plantar flexion action the way you would when walking or running.

Sled Pushes

Aside from all the other benefits that heavy sled pushes offer, they are great for improving calf strength, as they force

Pogo – the ultimate calf plyo

Weight training requires the Improving your power to generate power in a given movement. Movement tempo training focuses on improving the rate of power development, ie how fast you can use your strength. Remember: force = force × speed.

The heavier the load you work against, the slower your movement will be. So consider the principle of specificity. It says that in order to improve your explosive power, you need not just do exercises that require you to move against high loads. You also need to do exercises that require you to move at high speeds.

This is where the pogo movement comes into play. It is essentially a jump that is performed by the action of the ankle and foot rather than through the knees. If you do it right, your calves will be set on fire. The goal is to deal with them quickly. They involve very light loads (your body), but require you to move at a high speed by minimizing ground contact time.

However, these are easy to confuse. So look at this. It should not and should not look like that. Left is good. Right is bad.

Here's what you want …

  • Minimum ground contact time.
  • Minimal knee flexion (knees over the toes).
  • To touch the ground with a more dorsal foot (forefoot)
  • To hear the "popping" of your feet, indicating that they are stiff on the ground.

Here's what you do not want to do …

  • When you hit the ground in a plantar position (forefoot)
  • To allow for excessive knee flexion.
  • To "soften" the ground – you do not jog here.

Double-Legged Pogo, Hands on Hips

This variation will draw more attention to the lower body Place your hands on your hips and repeatedly jump in the Pogo style with minimal ground contact time. You should have minimal knee flexion (knees over your toes) and hit the ground in a more dorsal position. In general, this drill should be more elastic and rhythmic.

Pogo with two legs, hands behind the head

This variation places a higher requirement on boot demand, as the emphasis is more upright. Put your hands behind your head and repeatedly jump in the pogo style. In this variant, you may have a little more knee flexion. However, still focus on the minimum ground contact time with a dorsally flexible foot position.

Double leg pogo with arm swing

This variant allows most jump heights and connections in the overall coordination of the body. Jump in pogo style several times, but also use a sweep of the arm when you touch the ground and push it up. The arm swing should be an aggressive pump that works elastically with the pogos. All other notes apply.

Other variations

Skipping Rope Pogo Style

This variant challenges rhythm and coordination.

Skipping rope from side to side

An additional lateral challenge in addition to the above.

19659043] Skipping rope front and rear

An additional linear challenge in addition to the above.

You can use all single legs as a progression and reduce possible left and right asymmetries.


Try The Squat + Calf Raise



No-Weights Calf Training


Sebastian Möck, René Hartmann, Klaus Wirth, Gregor Rosenkranz and Christoph Mickel (2018) Correlation of the dynamic force in the standing calf increase with sprint performance in consecutive sections up to 30 meters, Research in Sports Medicine, 26: 4, 474-4


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