Leg exercises you can do anytime, anyplace

Q: I love wearing short skirts, but my calves are shapeless. How can I get some definition?

A: You’re in luck. One of the best exercises to build shapely calves is so easy you can do it practically anywhere. The exercise is called a calf raise. Once you’re comfortable with the basic exercise, here are some variations that you can add to your routine for quicker results.

One leg at a time: Bend your right knee so that your right foot is off the floor. Now do the calf raise using only your left leg. Then repeat with your right one. This increases the amount of weight each leg has to lift.

Use a step: Stand on the edge of a step so that your heels are hanging off. Now raise up onto your toes. Hold, and then lower your heels until they are below the step. This increases the range of motion of the exercise. To make it more difficult, use only one leg at a time.

Add weight: Once you can do the above variations easily, increase the amount of weight that your calves are lifting by holding a dumbbell.

Take a seat: In addition to standing calf raises, you can also do them sitting. Place a large book (at least 2 inches high) on the floor in front of you. Put the front half of your feet on the book so that your heels are hanging off. Then place dumbbells or a barbell on top of your thighs. Now raise up onto your toes. Hold and then slowly lower. This version will allow you to increase the amount of weight you’re lifting without worrying about balancing yourself.

Do one to three sets of each exercise (10 to 12 repetitions per set), and aim to do the entire calf workout two to three times a week.

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