How to get the most out of your Calf Raises!

Calves2
Calf Raises can be done many ways; however, there are a few tips to understand and follow in order to get the most out of the exercise.

  • First of all DO NOT BOUNCE! When you bounce or do quick calf raises, the work is being done by your Achilles tendon, not your calf muscles. You may feel a burn in your calf muscle, but it is not being targeted well enough to see results.
  • Doing a slow controlled movement from a rest (standing) position to the balls of your feet will activate all of the muscles in your calves.
  • If calf raises are done with straight legs, all of the parts of the calf will be working, but most of the work will be done by the very visible, large muscle on the outer part of the calf (Gastrocnemius). This will promote thickness and definition of your calf. If calf raises are done with bent knees, the smaller muscle behind the Gastrocnemius (Soleus) will be doing most of the work. Now although the Soleus muscle is not as visible as the Gastrocnemius, because it is behind the larger muscle, it will cause the Gastrocnemius to swell and visibly pop out more. Both are beneficial so I like to alternate between bent and straight legs between sets.
  • Calf raises can be very effective with no weight; however if you are doing weighted calf raises, the same principle applies. Use slow controlled motions rather than a bouncing movement.
  • Another possible way to change up the exercise is doing calf raises on a ledge where your heels hang over the edge. When lowering, go past parallel with the floor and stretch your calf muscles more. This will give you a wider range of motion for the muscle; therefore working the muscle in a different, harder way.

The gym I currently go to has a Power Plate. I like to start off my calf routine with 3 sets of slow calf raises on the Power Plate, and then I do 4 sets of weighted calf raises on one of the calf machines. Do what works best for you, but make sure to follow these tips.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas for other articles, please email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Do You Hate Running? Try Running In Reverse!

Ever since I was a kid, I never liked running. I didn’t mind playing a game of tag or running to a base during a kickball game, but when it came to long distance running, I never excelled… I flat out stunk at it. Friends of mine today keep telling me how they are preparing for different races, and all I can think about is how I can’t even stay on a treadmill for 10 minutes without wanting to pass out. I have tried entering races, running with friends, and even running with my dog, but I still can’t keep up. I have always wanted to reach that ‘runners high’ people talk about when they can just run for hours and just enjoy it, but no matter what I do, I have not been able to find a method that works for me… Until now!

Backward running
It may sound crazy, but one day at the gym, I decided to put the treadmill on a low speed and turn around. I started jogging backward, and eventually after a few mintues I was able to bump up the speed and pretty much run in reverse. I will admit it felt weird at first, but then I really started enjoying it. None of my joints were hurting, I wasnt running out of breath too quickly, and I was finally able to run for over 30 minutes without having any issues.

Now what are the benefits to running in reverse?
According to the New york Times Well blog and studies done by the University of Milan, running backwards can be easier on your joints, can help with muscle therapy, burn more calories, and increase balance. When running forward, a person puts a lot of tension and hard pounding on the knee joint. When running backward, however, there is much less hard pounding since our muscles and tendons act differently and instead of landing on our heels and taking off our toes like most people do when running forward, when running backward we land through our toes. Running backward also burns more calories because of the muscle and tendon activity. When running foward, we rely a lot of the motion and effort on the elastic energy in our muscles and tendons. When in reverse, this energy is not present, so we exert almost 30% more energy in order to run backward at the same speed. Our muscles are activated in order to stabalize our bodies in the backward motion which also helps improve our balance when moving both foward and backward and helps burns more calories.

When first implementing backward running, make sure to start off slow. It is a new motion for your body, and will take a little time to get used to. I currently only run backward at 4.5 mph on the treadmill to ensure safety, but also feel the benefits of the exercise. Trust me, after running backward for a few minutes, your calves and quads will be burning!

Try this exercise out and let me know what you think. Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com for any questions, comments, feedback, or ideas for future topics to discuss.

To view the New York Times Well blog article on reverse running, Click Here.

BOSU Ball Squats

Bosu Ball Squat - Position 1

Bosu Ball Squat – Position 1

Want to tone your legs? Want to challenge yourself with something new… Try BOSU Ball Squats.

This exercise is excellent to activate all of the muscles in your upper legs and your core. It requires a lot of control and balance and is a bit harder than it looks. To perform a BOSU Ball Squat:

    1. Grab a BOSU ball and put the ball on the ground, leaving the flat surface up.
    2. Slowly place one foot at a time on the BOSU ball and stand up straight (You are now in Position 1).
    3. Slowly lower to a squat position by lowering your butt down and activating your quads (You are now in Position 2)
    4. Using your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, raise back up to a standing position (You should now be back in Position 1).
    5. Repeat for the recommended amount of reps (usually 12-20).
Bosu Ball Squat - Position 2

Bosu Ball Squat – Position 2

Tips:

    1. Remember, when doing squats, the general rule is “Ass to Grass!” Lower your butt down as far as you can. This full range of motion will help build and tone your legs muscles.
    2. In order to balance, really activate your core. This exercise is more than just a leg workout!
    3. Once you become comfortable, you can add a barbell to make the exercise harder. Rest the barbell behind your head on your shoulders and perform the exercise with this added weight. WARNING: Do not try to squat the same amount of weight on the BOSU ball that you normally do on the flat ground. Start off small and add weight slowly. You will be surprised how much harder the squat becomes on the BOSU ball.
    4. BE CAREFUL!!! It is easy to fall off the ball. If you need to, perform this exercise next to a wall or something else that you can hold to maintain your balance. Try and do the exercise without brasing yourself, but hold something when necessary… Safety is always the most important thing when exercising!

Do you like this exercise? Do you have any other exercises you would like to share? Any questions or comments? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com