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Thomas Carlyle  
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BOOSTING WEIGHT LOSS WITH STRONGER CALF MUSCLES

Strengthening your calf muscles is a great way for men and women to increase and maintain weight loss because stronger calves boost performance when you walk, run, cycle or even swim.

Stronger CalvesThere are two muscles in the calf: the larger gastrocnemius, which begins behind your knee, and the underlying soleus muscle, which starts farther down. Both run down the back of your calf into your Achilles tendon at your ankle. Together, these muscles allow you to bend your knee and push off the heel and onto the ball of your foot when you walk. In combination with the other leg muscles, they propel you forward and help support the weight of your whole body.

Strong calves reduce leg fatigue and muscle stiffness whether you walk in high heels, work shoes or completely flat sandals. All these forms of footwear can strain the calf muscles.

Making your calves stronger lowers your risk for everyday injuries like tendonitis in your Achilles tendon and pain or weakness in your shins. It also reduces the chances of developing plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the bottom of the heel is extremely painful as a result of an inflamed ligament called the plantar fascia.

The calf-raise is an effective way to target these muscles. If you're just starting an exercise program and need to begin with the basics, this double-leg calf raise is your best choice. It will also improve your balance, which is an important component of fitness and great way to prevent falls.

For support, you can use a barbell, a weighted exercise bar, a broomstick, the back of a sturdy chair, a countertop or even a wall. If you're using a bar or a broomstick, stand it upright and hold it comfortably, with both hands at about waist level and one hand on top of the other. With a countertop, chair back or wall, just touch it lightly with both hands. Don't lean on your support, whatever it is.

Double-leg calf raise

1. Stand tall with your chest lifted, shoulders back and abdominals pulled in. Hold the bar gently without leaning on it. Bend your knees slightly and exhale as you rise up onto the balls of your feet. Pause for one or two seconds at the top.
2. Inhale as you lower your feet down until your heels touch the floor.

Repetitions and sets

Perform 12 to 15 repetitions per set. Do two sets at least three - preferably five - times per week. Once you can maintain good balance, increase the speed at which you rise up as high as you can onto the ball of your foot, (remember to pause at the top). Keep it interesting by mixing tempos, alternating fast and slow sets.

Don't forget that the added bonus of stronger calves is that they improve the shape of your legs, whether you're male or female.

 

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