By Jenny Everett, SELF magazine
Not only are your calves your look-sexy-in-high-heels muscle, they are also your lower body's shock absorber. So, if they're nice and strong, you're less likely to get injured when you land hard after, say, jumping up to reach something on the top shelf.
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That makes us doubly motivated to keep them in tip-top shape. Thankfully, we have exercise physiologist Tom Holland, owner of Tom Holland's Athletic Club in New Canaan, Conn., to explain how to define our calves so they're not just an extension of our ankles...
1. Toe raises: No excuse not to do these -- you can do them anywhere, sans equipment. Stand with your toes perched on the edge of a step. Slowly rise up onto your toes, then lower your heels until they dip below the top of the step. That's one rep, do 10. Repeat with the opposite leg. That's one set. Aim for 3 sets, 3 times a week. To make it harder, hold a dumbbell at your side next to the leg you're working.
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2. Hit the Stairmaster or Step Mill: But don't just bounce along. Instead, lean forward slightly at the waist (no hunching) and take deep fast steps -- like you're bounding up the stairs two at a time. Let go of the rails (only touch them lightly as needed for balance) to make sure your lower body -- calves included -- are taking on the brunt of the stabilization work.
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3. Take the hilly -- or sandy -- route: Running on flat ground doesn't effectively target your calves. Instead pick a hilly route, or opt for a jog on the beach. According to Holland, the instability of the sand forces you to recruit your calves in a major way. You'll definitely be feeling it the next day!
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Photo Credit: WWD