Have you ever seen the legs of a dancer? They are incredibly toned and strong from years of dancing on their toes. If ballet isn’t quite your thing, don’t worry. You can get an amazing set of calves by working out at the gym. With this easy plan you’ll be rocking a mini skirt and heels to show off those sexy, strong calves.
At the bottom, you’ll find a link to our 30 Perfect Calves image gallery, but before jumping straight in, we’ll show you how to get sexy calves for yourself!
Best Workouts for Women: Good Routines, Great Results
Most women focus on their upper legs and skip working their lower legs. But, don’t! Toned calf muscles will strengthen your legs, give them the definition you want, and give them more shape to make your legs look even longer. It’s time to carve out a set of sexy calves at the gym.
How to Get Toned, Lean Calves
Your calves are comprised of two muscles: the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The gastrocnemius is the large fleshy muscle at the back of your lower leg that functions to lift your heel. The soleus is a smaller muscle that lives under your gastrocnemius. It functions to lift your heels when you are sitting.
Many people, especially women, have tight calves. Blame it on the high heels and desk jobs. But, most often, tight calves are caused by running. As you start to work your calves harder, it’s important to stretch them at least once a day.
Expert Tip: To stretch your calves, place your toes on the edge of a stair and drop your heel towards the floor. You should feel a stretch in your calf muscle and the bottom of your foot. Hold for about 20-30 seconds and switch legs.
Exercises to Get Beautiful, Toned Calves
Calf raises are the single best exercise to strengthen and tone your calves. But, the good news is, cardio, like stair climbing and jump rope, can also help tone your calves!
Jump roping requires you to stand on your toes, which gives your calf muscles one heck of a workout. Not to mention, 30 minutes of jump rope burns about 350 calories. That’s equivalent to about an hour of running!
Calf exercises are easy to add to any strength training program. Just do the following calf-shaping exercises 2-3 times a week for about four weeks and you’ll see slimmer and firmer calves in no time.
One of the best ways to target those calves? Jumping rope. Yes, you probably did it in grade school but it’s time to bring it back — get in your cardio while toning your calves and warming up.
Fun fact: Kate Hudson jumps rope like a boss. No jump rope? No problem, just jump up and down in place. If you really want to feel the burn, try squat jumps to strengthen not only your calves but your thighs and glutes too.
Weighted Calf Raises
Calf raises on a step or stair primarily works your gastrocnemius muscle. Start by standing on the balls of your feet. Hold onto the wall or railing for balance. Slowly lower your heels towards the floor until you can’t go any further. Slowly raise up onto the balls of your feet. Pause and lower back down.
Expert Tip: Perform calf raises on the edge of a stair or low box to move your heel through a greater range of motion and further challenge your calves.
Seated Calf Raises
Seated calf raises primarily work your soleus muscle. You can either use a machine or dumbbells for this exercise. If you use weights, sit in a chair with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor. Place a dumbbell in each hand and hold one on top of each knee. Slowly squeeze your calf muscle as you raise up onto the balls of your feet. Pause and slowly return back to the start position. Repeat.
Do 3-4 sets of 12 reps of each exercises at least 2-3 times a week with your other strength training exercises. Remember to add some calf-shaping cardio, like jump roping or hill running, afterward to really blast those calves into shape.
Expert Tip: For seated calf raises use at minimum 10 lb. dumbbells. Your calves are strong so don’t be afraid to push yourself with more weight.
Stretching Your Calves
After you finish all your exercises make sure you stretch! Stretching is extremely important for keeping your muscles long, lean, and healthy and can also prevent other nasty side-effects like knee, hip and back pain. Because the two muscles in your calves work differently, they also need to be stretched differently. The leg needs to be straight to stretch the gastrocnemius, but to isolate the soleus you need to stretch the calf with your knee bent. So, for best results, perform a 30 second calf stretch on each calf with your leg straight and again with it bent.
Perfect Calves Workout
Calves are often overlooked, but don’t neglect those babies. Check out or gallery for some really great reasons and inspiration to work your calves often.
Perfect Female Calves: Exercise Motivation and Inspiration
Need some inspiration? Scroll through the slideshow to get more expert tips for getting killer calves, just like your favorite celebs!
(Slideshow by: Alexa Erickson)