How To Target The Outer Calves

Your calves — or gastrocnemius and soleus muscles — can be as stubborn as a, uh, mule when it comes to growth. The gastrocnemius is the heart-shaped muscle, while the soleus is located in the lower calf below the gastrocnemius; it works to flex the foot to point your does downward.

The issue of growth or non-growth could be genetics, in which case you’re all but out of luck when it comes to growing them. However, making them stronger is something that can and should be attempted by athletes. For one, it can help prevent injury, according to a Runner’s World survey of 14,000 sidelined runners. Their most common ailment? A pulled calf. Two, it can help you explode faster off the starting line, make quicker cuts on the court, or leap higher to catch that soaring line drive.

The most common exercise in the gym for the calves is the calf raise (standing or seated). But a trick to hit those outer calves? Turn your toes inward. Sounds weird, right? An Armstrong State University study showed that turning your toes inward while doing standing calf raises shifts the emphasis to the outer head of the calves. The seated variety, while still beneficial, shifted more of the burden toward the soleus. In other words, mix up your calves training to include a variety — toes in, toes pointing straight ahead, toes out to get full development. But make sure your toes are pointed out while standing to really rock the outer calves.

Try it: 

Standing Calf Raise (toes in) 3 x 15-20

Standing Calf Raise (toes straight ) 3 x 15

Target the soleus by adding this:

Seated Calf Raise 3 x 15

Seated Calf Raise 3 x 15