12 June, 2008

shape your legs

Are your calves the bane of your life? Too thin or too hefty? Your calves are often the forgotten muscle in your exercise plan. Exercising them will add definition & strength to them. Surely you have noticed the appearance of the calf muscle in people who wear high heels. Calf muscles are best exercised when you raise your heels to full height.

Because of how the muscle is attached, you train the soleus more effectively when your knees are bent. If you think your calves are too thin, concentrate on exercising this muscle a little more often.

When your leg is straight, you can train your gastocnemius muscle more effectively. If you are unhappy with your calves, they look too thick, concentrate on training this muscle more. With the correct amount of exercise, you can create more definition in your lower leg and activate the muscle fibers so that fat within the muscle fibre has a better chance of being burned off when you are doing some cardiovascular activity.

1. Standing heel raise in back lunge position.
Stand in a lunge position. Front leg is slightly bent, back leg is extended and the heel is flat on the floor. Both feet face forward. Lift your heel until your weight is on the ball of the foot. Raise it as high as you can and then lower. Keep the upper body very still, chest out and shoulders down and back. The movement in this exercise is very vertical, up and down, not forward and back. Execute the movement slowly.

2. Standing heel raise in back lunge position.
The stance is somewhat like the first exercise. Except that here the back leg is bent. In this bent knee position, raise and lower the heel. Keep the back knee bent throughout this exercise. Make sure that just the back foot moves. Come up only to the ball of your foot, not your toes. Done properly you must feel the weight in the ball of the feet.

3. Standing heel raise with weights in hand
Stand with your legs placed hip width apart. Hold the weights in your hands to overload the muscle being worked. Keeping the legs very straight, raise up on the balls of your feet. Squeeze your buttock muscles together and pull your abs in. this will help you to keep your balance. Slowly lower the heels down to the floor.
This exercise demands a lot of concentration in order to keep your balance and technique. Make sure you are coming up to the balls of your feet and not your toes. Your can still add more definition to this by standing on a balance trainer which also challenges your balance and hence you also train your core abdominal.

4.Standing heel raise with a bar.
Hold a bar or a pole vertical out in front of you so that you can maintain a neutral position, shoulders down, neck long and head straight. Hold the pole with both the hands, keeping the arms relaxed. This is a very effective exercise if executed properly. Find a comfortable stance that allows a full range of motion and good technique.

Similarly if you have a very week muscle you can do the sitting heel raises. You can start training by initially sitting on a chair or an exercise ball.

Calf stretch

First extend back of leg fully and feel the pull in the large calf muscle. Now bend your knee, keeping the heel on the floor. You must feel the stretch transfer to the lower part of your calf. Keep the knee bent and heel flat on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Change legs, and repeat several times. Your body should build a diagonal line from head to foot.

This is an excellent stretch for the calf muscle that you must do at the end of any strenuous activity specially involving your legs- like walk, jog, run etc. this helps your to avoid injuries and prevent post exercise soreness.

Shapely legs are woman’s assets. We have to workout regularly and religiously to get the desired shape and tone of the muscle. If you are fond of wearing skirts and heels to show your shapely legs, make sure you exercise your calf muscles regularly and then enjoy all the attention that you will get and deserve.

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