They're among the most important vanity muscles for fitness-focused guys, and with summer just around the corner, your calves are about to be on full display. But even regular gymgoers are misguided when it comes to toning their lower legs. "You'll see plenty of lifters doing calf raises all day and nothing happens," says Justin Jacobs, a Tier 3 plus personal trainer and fitness manager at Equinox in New York City. "The athletes with great calves are dancers, basketball players, and tennis players, who develop their muscles through quick and powerful movements."
What works: The power and agility route—more specifically, body-weight moves that involve plantar flexion (pressing the ball of your foot downward). "If you're looking to drop body fat for the summer, these jumping moves will give you a metabolic boost and a tight-looking calf," Jacobs says. Try this mini-routine on its own or use each of the three exercises as cardio intervals in your regular strength routine.
Warm-up: Start in plank position, shift your weight back to stretch your calves, and then shift forward. Do 10 to 12 reps.
Jump rope: Start with both legs, then progress to single-leg jumping.
Squat jumps: Squat, then really drive through your foot as you jump out of the squat. "You want the toe to be the last part of the foot that touches the floor when you take off and the first part that touches the floor when you land," Jacobs says. Do 15 reps.
Speed skaters: Mimic the athletes' movements and alternate lunging side-to-side, making sure your foot falls with your toe touching down first. "Your back leg acts like a tail, counterbalancing you," Jacobs says. Do 15 reps on each side.
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