Hi Hayley,

I need some help with my calves!

Currently I go to two step classes (Group Blast) and three weight training classes (Group Power) at my gym as well as a few 5-8k hikes with my dog a week. My calves were at their best when I was rock climbing and hiking a ton, but now with a toddler who likes to run towards danger I'm not able to
get out doing these activities enough to keep the muscle on.

I've been doing calf raises at the end of my gym workouts but feel like it hasn't made an impact. Can you please guide me in how many I should be doing and how frequently as well as any other calve exercises you would suggest?

Thank you so much!


Based on the muscle fibre composition of the muscles that we refer to as the calf, you need to be doing endurance style exercises which are of lighter load and high reps. This is why your calves were in their best shape while you were rock climbing and hiking, because the Type 1 muscle fibres are made for endurance. 

I understand that much of your time is now spent chasing a toddler around rather than taking time for yourself to hike and climb, but you still need to get outside and work those calves if you want to see results. Keep up with the step classes as they are just what your calves need but try adding in a few other activities. Try skipping a dog hike and replace that with a long walk with your toddler in the stroller. Find a hilly route somewhere and really focus on pushing the stroller right from your toe off (plantarflexion). If you are feeling extra energetic, find a hill that is about 500m long and run up it, pushing the stroller, a few times. Or if skipping a dog hike isn’t possible, pack the baby on your back and try and find somewhere that has lots of hills.

Another option is getting out and cycling. I am not sure if you are much of a rider but if you can, invest in a bike and a trailer for your little one. Find a car free route or an area that has very little traffic and get out for an hour once or twice a week. 

For what to do at home, try calf raises on your stairs. Stand up tall, with your legs straight and the balls of your feet resting on the edge of the stairs. Keeping your legs straight, lower and raise your heels 20-30 times (you should feel them start to burn). You can do this movement with your feet parallel, in a turned out position (heels together and toes apart, like a V) or in a turned in position (like you are pigeon toed). If you want to target the lower part of your calf muscles, then slightly bend your knees and slow the pace down. Add these to your routine 3 times a week. Squats with your heels raised slightly as well as deadlifts also help to target the calves. These exercises, combined with endurance exercises, will hopefully get your calves looking like they did in their prime.

Make sure you are stretching your calves too, because they can become quite tight (especially your Achilles tendon) which can lead to injury down the road, adding another road block, along with your toddler, to your dream legs.

Attached - Julianne Hough leaving the gym yesterday in LA.