The Best Calf Exercises for Beginners

If you haven't made calf exercises part of your usual workout routine yet, you should consider taking any of these ideas and start implementing it yourself. They're all very demanding and good for you!
The Best Calf Exercises for Beginners

Last update: 20 July, 2019

Perhaps you know them as “the donkey kick,” but in the fitness world, they’re also called calf exercises. Below, we’ll list the best ones for working glutes, calves and thighs.

Calf exercises: the advantages

There’s no doubt that the buttocks are a complicated area to work since they can’t be molded so easily. This is because they belong to the largest muscle group in the body: the legs.

It takes a lot of effort and exercise to achieve our goals, besides eating a well-balanced diet and leaving that sedentary lifestyle behind. The good news is that the calf exercises (aka the donkey kick) can be beneficial.

This is an exercise that doesn’t require much preparation; most of the time, we don’t even need additional accessories, nor do we usually need devices. Among the main benefits of doing calf exercises, we can include the following:

  • It doesn’t require much space.
  • It strengthens the lumbar, the legs, and the back.
  • It tones the gluteal muscles.
  • It increases agility, speed, and balance.
  • It reduces cellulite.

How to do calf exercises

Besides the advantages indicated above, another of the pros of calf exercises is that we don’t need to be fitness experts to perform them, at least not to perform the most basic ones. Pay attention to the following variations:

1. The original donkey kick

Lie face down on the mat, place the palms of your hands, knees and the tips of your toes on the floor. Keep your back straight at all times. Take your right knee off the floor and bring it to your chest.

Calf exercises

Then move it back, without extending it at any time. Your objective is to eventually have the sole of your foot pointing towards the ceiling and your thighs aligned with your back (parallel to the floor). Hold this position for a few seconds and then bring your leg back to your chest; that is one repetition. Do ten and then switch sides.

2. The straight donkey kick

The initial position is the same as in the previous exercise, and so are the first steps, since you must bring your knee to your chest. The difference here lies in the kick itself since, in this case, you’ll have to extend your leg once you kick it behind you completely.

Kick your leg back (your leg should be parallel to the ground) and then, after some practice, make things a little more complicated by keeping your leg stretched diagonally above the floor. You must always stretch it well. Do 15 repetitions and then switch sides.

3. Donkey kick with ankle weights

You can do either of the calf exercises, with flexed or stretched knee (or a combination of both) here. The difficulty, in this case, is the ankle weights, the weights that are attached to the calf, putting more strain on the muscles.

4. A standing donkey kick

Not only can you do this exercise on the ground, but there are also other options that could be more interesting. For example, while standing, put your hands on the edge of a chair or the wall. Then, bring your torso slightly forward, keeping your back straight at all times and without fully stretching your legs out.

Your bodyweight should be on your left leg so that you’re working out your right leg, which must be semi-flexed. Do the donkey kicks, by sending your leg back. You can choose to do the basic kick or the kick where your leg stretches out completely; after ten repetitions, change sides.

You can perform this same exercise on a specific gym machine. In which case, your leg is hooked to a cable, and you choose what weight you want to lift. Resistance is generated by that cable and, of course, the load.

Other ideas for calf exercises include the traditional donkey kick with a dumbbell behind the knee and keeping your leg parallel to the ground for 30 seconds. Try it out, and you’ll start to feel how you’re working out the whole area of the buttocks and thighs!

In summary, calf exercises are quite simple and a very effective workout for the buttock area. Therefore, it’s worth adding a few of these to your workout routine. Once you’ve practiced, you can start making the session more challenging.

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Leg exercises are often neglected in workout routines. Read this article to learn more giving your lower body the attention it needs.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Lavorato, M., & Pereira, N. (2008). La sentadilla ¿es un ejercicio potencialmente lesivo? Productosfortia.Com.

The contents of this publication are written for informational purposes. At no time do they facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.