Sprinter Calves Workout
Have you ever wondered how sprinters move at such a high speed and also manage to bask in that explosive power during competitions? The simple answer is that they have learned the rudiments of building the sprinter calves. How well the calves are developed has a lot to do with the flash-like speed and the flood of enjoyment that rushes through the bodies of competitive or avid runners when they hit the track (2). Calves assist your quads and hamstrings to move you forward. By implication, trained calves fire your legs with strength and take your running ability to a whole new level.
The calf muscles play a significant role when pushing up a steep hill and descending on the other side. When you are on the move, they act as the gas and brake pedal. Leg muscles are made up of butt and thigh muscles, which are responsible for maintaining balance, whether the body is stationary or in motion.
The hip extensor muscles, including the gluteus maximus, adductor magnus, and hamstrings, hip flexor muscles comprising rectus femoris and psoas major, and hamstrings are some of the essential muscles that must be routinely exercised (3). High-velocity exercises that infuse the muscles with necessary strength are important.
The critical role that these muscles play in running mechanics is part of the reason why they must be maintained and strengthened for optimal performance. Professor Steve Harridge of King’s College London pointed out that, “To be a great sprinter you need leg muscles that are dominated by fast-twitch muscle fibres because they shorten the muscle quickly and generate power” (5).
Building calf muscles
To understand why it is necessary to build muscular calves, we first need to zero in on the calf’s benefits for the entire body. The calf is made up of two major muscles, which are the gastrocnemius and soleus. These muscle fibers have very high endurance capacity.
We depend on our calves for support when we’re standing and walking. Contrary to what is popular among gym-goers, the sprinter’s calves need more attention than most parts of the body, although it may not be the most easily noticeable part of a well-built body. It is like the unsung hero working quietly and continuously for the benefit of the whole body.
How to get bigger calves
Getting bigger calves can be achieved by constant training of the calves for, at least, three days of the week. Some routine workouts to help in building calf muscles include (4):
In-to-out standing calf raise
As the name signifies, this exercise works on both the calves’ internal and external portions by putting proportionate pressure on them during the training. The process of achieving this is explained below:
- Find an elevated surface and stand on it.
- Make sure the toes are facing each other.
- Ensure that the back of each foot is extended from the raised surface. Then, find something to hold for support.
- Lower the back of the foot towards the ground until the calves are fully stretched out.
- Push the heels off the ground.
- Repeat the rising and falling of the heels ten times.
- Go again for another ten times, but this time, make sure the toes are pointing straight ahead.
- Do another ten reps with your feet forming the V shape.
- Repeat the last three routines once again in that order.
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The cliffhanger stairs is quite different as it does not make the lifting of the heels visible. It involves working up and down the stairways without allowing the back of the feet to contact the floor, like a ballerina but not on tiptoes.
It may be challenging to maintain this pose initially; hence it is advisable to use the stair rails for support. However, the weight of the body should not be carried by this support. The weight should be naturally carried by the legs.
Depending on how long the stairway is, you should walk up and down the stairs for 60 seconds. This should be repeated five times with a relaxing time of 30 seconds in between every 60 seconds. The whole routine should not take less than 10 minutes.
Seated calf raise
This workout to grow a healthy calf requires the use of a machine. It works solely on building the soleus muscles of the calves. Here is how to go about it:
- Settle into the calf raising machine.
- The front of each foot should be placed on each side of the machine’s raised surfaces.
- Let the back of your feet move as far down as possible until the back of the lower leg is stretched.
- Lift the heels as high as possible by sinking the front of the feet into the elevated surfaces on each side.
- When the heels are as high as possible, maintain this pose for a second, then bring it back to the starting position.
- Repeat this up and down motion of the feet 20 times to make one set.
- Repeat until you have pushed through four sets.
Building female sprinter calves
In most circumstances, women do not appreciate excessively bulgy calves. They usually want their processes of building calf muscle to yield finely shaped and impressive calves, which will look gorgeous in a stunning pair of heels.
Therefore, it is not difficult to understand that the workouts involved in building most female olympic sprinter calves may be slightly different from their male counterparts. Most sprinters train for a strong calf to improve their endurance and running capacity (1). Some of the workouts recommended in achieving a stunning female calf are:
- Stand upright with the feet kept slightly apart.
- Tighten the stomach muscles while lifting the back of the feet by pressing the front of it to the ground.
- Maintain this pose before slowly bringing the heel to the floor.
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Inward calf raise
- Start with the feet slightly apart and toes forming an inverted V shape.
- Tighten the muscles of the stomach while lifting the heels.
- Maintain this position when the heels are further from the ground.
- Return the heels to the floor, slowly.
Outward calf raise
- Start with the feet slightly apart and form a V shape with toes pointing outwards.
- Tighten the abs while lifting the heels and maintain the pose with the raised heels.
- Slowly bring the heels back to the starting position.
- Repeat this motion 15 times.
The workouts to make your leg muscles pop require as much energy and commitment as needed in training other muscles of the body. To really work on the sprinter calves, you’ll need to stock up on unwavering dedication and determination. To have that boost to work on your calves harder, alway keep in mind that they play a paramount role in supporting virtually your every basic movement (sitting, standing, walking and the list goes on).
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 9 best calf exercises to give you toned legs like no other (2019, womenshealthmag.com)
- Calf Stretches and Calf Workouts to Run Stronger and Prevent Injury (2019, runnersworld.com)
- How do strength gains transfer to sprinting? (2017, medium.com)
- How to Train for Bigger, Better Calf Muscles (2019, menshealth.com)
- The science of sprinting (2012, independent.co.uk)