You exercise your calf muscles with every step you take. Just as you can more easily do 25 crunches when you've been doing them for a month than you could do them when you first started, you can also build up your calf muscles. As you build muscle mass in your calves, you must also increase their flexibility in order to have strong, toned calf muscles.
The simple calf stretch is still one of the best ways to increase flexibility and you should continue to make this a regular aspect of your workout. Stand a few feet away from a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step forward with your left foot and bend at a slight angle in order to rest your palms against the wall. Bend your left knee and extend your right leg behind, making sure to keep your right knee straight with your right heel flat. Push your hips toward the wall until you feel the stretch in the calf of your right leg. Hold for a count and then repeat with the other leg. Do this 10 times for each leg.
The heel raise is a time-tested method for working out your calf muscles. The good thing about this exercise to build calf muscles is that it can be done in one form or another anywhere. You need some kind of platform that is raised an inch or two off the ground. This can be a short step, a book or a couple of free weights. Stand with your feet hip-width apart so that your toes are on the platform and your heels on the floor. Rise all the way up onto your toes until you feel the contraction in your calf muscles. Hold for a count and then return. To really give your calves a workout and build muscles, hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms by your sides.
Standing Jump and Reach
A good calf exercise for those who need to improve their vertical jump is the standing jump and reach. The ability of this exercise to actually build muscle in your calves is secondary to the manner in which it helps to exploit the use of your calf muscles when you jump. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your left arm down at your side and lift your right arm straight over your head. Your knees should be slightly bent, but not so much that you are bending at the waist. The key to this exercise is your explosiveness. Jump up as intensely as possible in an attempt to touch a high ceiling. When you land, you immediately switch arms and jump up again. Start out by doing this 50 times and work your way up to 180 times.
Article Written By Timothy Sexton
Timothy Sexton is an award-winning author who started writing in 1994. He has written on topics ranging from politics and golf to nutrition and travel, and his work appears online for Zappos.com, Disaboom and MOJO, among others. He has also done work for "Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of West Florida.