(NaturalNews) Building killer calves is more complicated than people think. Most exercisers do a bunch of standing calf exercises like standing calf raises, sled hack calf raises, donkey raises, and calf presses to bulk up not realizing that their entire workout is only targeting half of the muscles in the calves.
Standing calf exercises work the gastrocnemius, a muscle in the lower leg close to the surface of the skin. Underneath the gastrocnemius is the soleus. The soleus is wider than the gastrocnemius and helps to add width to the lower leg. This muscle gets next to no work when you do standing calf exercises. The solution is to add seated calf exercises to your routine.
Seated barbell calf raises
Seated barbell calf raises target the soleus muscle. They are simple to do at home because all you need is a chair and a barbell. You do need to take precautions so that the barbell does not roll onto your feet or hit anything around you. Use a light weight that you can easily control and pick a place that has plenty of room around it so that the barbell does not hit anything.
Place a block or aerobic step flat on the floor in front of a chair. Sit down and position the barbell across your thighs near the knees. Hang your heels off the edge of the block or step. Hold the bar firmly as you raise your heels up toward the ceiling. Lower back down to finish one rep.
Alternating seated calf extensions
The alternating seated calf extension is an ideal soleus exercise because it targets each leg separately, ensuring that each soleus lifts the same amount of weight. You need a calf extension machine or attachment for a home gym.
Sit at the machine with the balls of your feet on the peddles and your knees bent slightly. Press one foot forward like you are pushing down on a gas pedal. Retract one foot back to the starting position while pressing the other foot forward. This counts as one repetition.
Simple soleus stretch
Most calf stretches target the gastrocnemius, so you should add a stretch for the soleus into your workouts too. An easy way to stretch the soleus is to stand with your hands against a wall and one foot forward as you would for a regular calf stretch. The front knee is bent and your hands are at shoulder height. Then, bend your back knee but keep the foot flat on the ground. Shift your hips forward while keeping both feet glued to the floor. After 30 seconds, switch legs.
The soleus muscle responds best to a higher repetition range than the gastrocnemius. Do the seated calf exercises with a range of 12 to 20 repetitions, using just your body weight or low weight amounts. Due to the high reps, fewer sets are needed. Two to three sets is sufficient to build the soleus and improve the look of your calves. Follow-up the seated calf exercises with the soleus stretch.
About the author: Sarka-Jonae Miller is a former personal trainer and massage therapist. She has a journalism degree from Syracuse University. Sarka-Jonae currently writes romantic comedy novels and romantic erotica under the same SJ Miller. Get more health and wellness tips from SJ's natural health Twitter feed or from SJ's Facebook page. SJ's books can be found on Amazon.