The 5-Move Workout Your Legs Will Love to Hate

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One of the fastest ways to make your legs look long, lean, and super sexy is to throw on a pair of killer heels. They automatically shorten your calf muscles, making them pop. Whenever a client asks me what she can do to make her calves look better, that’s the first thing I suggest—with a wink and a smile, of course.In reality, making your lower legs look fantastic does require a bit more than that. In fact, this often-overlooked muscle group is incredibly important for foot function, ankle stability, and many of your daily movements. Strong calves play a critical role in plantar flexion (pointing your toes), and therefore are involved in walking, running, and of course, wearing high heels.

Perform a few simple exercises twice per week and you will improve the strength, function, and appearance of your calves, giving you a strong foundation to avoid injuries. Let’s be real: The more frequently you wear heels, the more likely you are to turn an ankle and take a spill. Add this workout to your existing routine, and in just a few weeks, you’ll see some really nice benefits.

workout wednesday calves

The Workout: 

Complete the five moves below in order with 30 seconds rest in between each exercise. Do one set of each move for the first week, two sets of each move the second week, and three sets of each move the third week and beyond. Complete 15 to 20 reps for each move. After week three, you can add additional weight (three- to five-pound dumbbells) if the moves start to feel easy. (Get tons of routines that’ll help you squeeze in quickie workouts with Women’s Health 20-Minute Workouts DVD!)

1. Jumping Jacks

jumping jacks

How to: Begin with your feet together and arms at your sides (A). Jump upward just a few inches and reach your arms overhead. Simultaneously hop your feet open until they are wider than your shoulders (B). That’s one rep; jump back to the starting position and continue.

2. Knee Hops
knee hops calves workout

How to: Start with your right knee lifted and your left arm forward. Rise up onto the ball of your left foot (A). From there, switch legs, landing on the ball of your right foot (B). That’s one rep. Quickly switch knees and continue through all reps. Use your arms to power you and keep your knees and hips slightly bent. Focus on rising up onto the ball of each foot so that the heels lifted as much as possible.

3. Quarter Squat Lift
quarter squat lift calf workout

How to: Stand with your feet two inches apart and your hands in front of your chest. Bend your knees and lower down into a quarter squat (A). From there, press your arms down to propel your body upward, rising onto the balls of your feet. Squeeze your calf muscles and lift your heels up as high as possible. Lengthen your spine up toward the sky to fully extend your legs and knees. Pause at the top for a brief second to fully contract the calves (B). That’s one rep; release back to the starting position and repeat for all reps.

 

4. Plié Calf Raise
calf raise leg workout

 

How to: Stand with your heels separated about six inches apart, toes opened to about 45 degrees. Bend your knees and lower your hips into a partial plié squat (A). Press into the balls of your feet and rise up, straightening both legs and squeezing your calf muscles. Lengthen upward as much as possible and pause at the top for a thorough contraction (B). That’s one rep; lower down and repeat for all reps.

5. Calf Raise Swing
calf raise swing leg workout

 

How to: Begin with your feet staggered from front to back and hands near your chest. Bend your knees and drop down into a partial lunge to prepare for the move (A). Press into the ball of your left foot, straighten your left leg and rise upward. Simultaneously swing your right knee forward and up. Focus on rising up onto the ball of the left foot and squeeze the calf muscle (B). That’s one rep; return to the starting position and immediately repeat the move on the left leg. Complete all reps before switching legs.

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