How to Do Isometric Calf Exercises

Exercising your calf muscles might seem like a wasted effort. However, your calf muscles are what give your increased vertical lift as well as helping protect your knees from injury. Strong calves help with push off when sprinting, running, or jumping. Isometric exercises are often used to increase a basketball player’s vertical leap to aid in making slam dunks and jump shots.

Isometric exercise is a type of stationary workout that exercises the muscle while it remains in one position. The muscle is tensed and held in position for a period of 5-10 seconds. This builds strength and power in the muscle as it is worked in that position. To increase strength for the entire length of the muscle, adjustments need to be made to work all angles in the muscle range of motion.

People with heart disease or high blood pressure should not perform isometrics. During the compression part of the exercise (tensing of muscle), the heart rate elevates significantly, making this a dangerous exercise for anyone with blood pressure or heart issues.

The following provides three exercises for improving the calf muscles using isometric exercise.

How to Do Isometric Calf Exercises

Stand next to a wall with arms down to the sides, head facing straight, and back and shoulders aligned. Feet shoulder placed together, pointing forward. Rise up on the ball of one foot, keeping the other foot flat and suspended in the air. Tense the calf muscle and hold for 20 second and release to flat feet on the floor. Repeat 10 times. You can place fingers against the wall for stability, if needed.

Vary your Step 1 exercise by lifting onto both feet at the same time and holding this position for 20 seconds. Release to both feet flat on the floor. Repeat 10 times. Remember to breathe slowly and evenly during this exercise. You can also add hand weights to increase the difficulty level.

Seat yourself in a straight-backed chair. With your back straight and head pointing forward, grasp the sides of the chair seats or the arm rests. Lift your legs onto the balls of the feet, tensing the calf muscle. Hold for a count of 10 and release to flat feet and hold for a count of 10. Complete 10 repetitions.

Using your step apparatus (stair step, step aerobics platform or bench), stand straight with arms at the sides. Move back until your heels are extending off the edge of the stair, but level with the platform. Hold onto something for balance is needed. Slowly drop the heels down below the level of the platform and hold this position for a 10 count. Rise to level with the platform. Repeat 10 times.

Remember to breathe evenly and regularly throughout your isometric exercise. Don’t hold your breathe with each repetition.