Having big, strong calf muscles definitely makes your legs look crazy sculpted in your favorite pair of heels, but that’s far from the only reason that you should incorporate calf exercises into your workout routine.
Your calves help stabilize and strengthen your ankles, allowing your feet to leave and hit the ground properly when you do everything from walk to jump. Ankle stability and strength are also must-haves for lower-body strength training (think squats and lunges), so there’s really no getting around working those calf muscles if you want to be fit and active. The stronger your calf muscles are, the more powerfully you can jump, sprint, and lift—and the less likely you are to get injured.
In case you didn’t know, though, your calf actually consists of two different muscles. First, there’s your gastrocnemius, which has two heads (like your biceps) and runs from behind your knee to about halfway down the back of your lower leg, where it connects to your Achilles tendon, which attaches to your heel. When most people think “calves,” this is the muscle they think of. Beneath your gastrocnemius and Achilles is the second calf muscle: the soleus, which runs from the outer side of the back of your knee down to your heel.
While the gastrocnemius may get lots of love because it’s the muscle that really pops when you show your calves some TLC, the soleus helps keep your ankle stable and secure.
Create a quick calf workout (or a calf-focused finisher for your next leg day workout) with the following calf exercises for a more balanced lower body.