A slightly better – yet silly looking - way to train your calf muscles
The muscles that react the least to strength training are the ones in your calves. Bodybuilders looking for a way to get this stubborn muscle group to grow might find the answer in a study by Michael Mullaney of the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma. Mullaney discovered an exercise that stimulates the calf muscles a little more intensively than the traditional calf raise.
Mullaney wanted to know how intensively a number of exercises affect the calf muscles – useful information for physiotherapists looking to create better rehabilitation programmes for people recovering from an Achilles heel operation.
Mullaney got 10 healthy people to do a number of exercises that train the calf muscles. He attached electrodes to the calf muscles so he could measure how hard the muscles had to work.
The figure below shows that the toe raise – the movement where you pull your toes up as high as possible – exercises the calf muscle the least. The traditional calf raise [the heel rise in the figure below] was the second most intensive.
Hopping trains the calf muscles a little more intensively than the calf raise, according to the figure. Trainers also call the exercise the single leg calf hop.
The YouTube clip above shows how to do the single leg calf hop. It does look a little unusual, and requires a little imagination to work out how to increase the resistance. But calf muscles that don't respond to the calf raise may grow if you try the calf hop.