Calf Exercises Without Machines

Calf Exercises Without Machines
One of the most neglected muscles used during hiking and backpacking is the calf muscle. Compared to the thigh and other muscles, the calf muscle is relatively small but plays an important role in extending the foot while ascending hills and maintaining balance. It's also one of the easiest to injure. Here are a few tips on how to develop great calf strength without breaking the bank on expensive workout equipment.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Simple Calf Exercises Without Machines

Things You’ll Need:
  • Rubber or elastic band Stairs or bleachers Pro-stretch stretching machine
  • Rubber or elastic band
  • Stairs or bleachers
  • Pro-stretch stretching machine
Step 1
Increase the flexibility and strength of your calf muscles by stretching them through a wide range of motion before heading out on the trail. Stand with the balls of your feet on the first step of a staircase with your heels free. Maintain your balance by holding onto the banister with your hands. Slowly lower your heels toward the floor until you feel your calf muscles stretch. To increase calf strength, slowly lift your heels by extending your ankles and flexing your calf muscles. Repeat the exercise with each foot, using three to five sets of 10 to 15 repetitions. For added resistance, try holding a 5 or 8 lb. pilates ball against your chest while raising your heels.
Step 2
Sit on the floor with your left leg extended straight in front of you, with your knee straight. Drape the middle of a rubber or elastic band over the ball of your foot, while holding onto the ends with each hand. Slowly pull back on the ends of the bands to stretch your calf muscles. To increase strength, anchor the ends of the bands with your hands and extend your toes away from your body. Repeat on the right leg, using three to five sets of 10 to 15 repetitions. For extra resistance, buy stouter bands or double them up over the ball of your foot.
Step 3
Buy a "Fit Stretch Stretching Aid" from your local sporting goods or outdoor equipment store. Set the stretching aid parallel to and 12 to 14 inches away from a wall. Slide your left foot into the stretching aid, while standing tall and balancing against the wall with your right hand. Gently rock backward to stretch your calf muscle, then roll forward on the stretching aid while extending your left ankle. Repeat on the right side, using three to five sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

Tips & Warnings

 
Start all exercises slowly with minimal resistance. Hold pilates balls or medicine balls against your chest for more resistance.
 
Start all exercises slowly with minimal resistance.
 
Hold pilates balls or medicine balls against your chest for more resistance.
 
Avoid over-extending your calf muscles. Never increase your weekly repetitions by more than 10 percent per week
 
Avoid over-extending your calf muscles.
 
Never increase your weekly repetitions by more than 10 percent per week

Article Written By Allen Smith

Allen Smith is an award-winning freelance writer living in Vail, Colo. He writes about health, fitness and outdoor sports. Smith has a master's degree in exercise physiology and an exercise specialist certification with the American College of Sports Medicine at San Diego State University.

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