Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

about us





Fancy footwork gives calves a better workout

Bodybuilders looking for bigger calves may get better results by doing their calf-raises alternately with their toes turned out and turned in. Sports scientists from Armstrong Atlantic State University have published their findings in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

The researchers did experiments with 10 male and 10 female subjects in their mid-twenties. The subjects had to do calf-raises while carrying a bar with weights across their shoulders. The combined weight of the bar and weights was 130 to 150 percent of their bodyweight.

The researchers placed electrodes on the medial and lateral head of the gastrocnemius muscle. This enabled them to measure how hard the calf muscles had to work.

Fancy footwork gives calves a better workout

The subjects did their free-weight calf-raise in the classical way [Neutral], but also with their toes turned inwards [Internal rotation, left-hand photo below] and with their toes turned outwards [External rotation, right-hand photo].

Fancy footwork gives calves a better workout Fancy footwork gives calves a better workout

The figure immediately below shows the muscle activity during the concentric movement as the subjects push the weight upwards. The lower figure shows the activity during the eccentric movement. The light bars represent the lateral head and the black bars the medial head of the gastrocnemius.

Fancy footwork gives calves a better workout

Fancy footwork gives calves a better workout

The graphs indicate that during the concentric phase you stimulate the lateral head more if your toes are turned inwards. During the eccentric phase you stimulate the medial head better if your feet are turned outwards. And before you ask: yes, the differences are statistically significant.

The researchers didn't measure the extent to which the different ways of doing the calf-raise actually result in stronger or bigger calves.

J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Mar;25(3):634-9.

Box squat almost as good as regular squat 25.11.2010
The three best weightless exercises for your glutes 13.11.2010
Back squat or front squat? Makes no difference to your leg muscles 14.10.2010