In general, to tone your calves, you’ll need to both reduce body fat and increase muscle size. One of the most effective ways to do to this to perform a combination of cardiovascular and strength training exercises. There are several such exercises that are particularly well-suited to targeting the legs and helping you tone your calves.
Cardiovascular exercises that can help you tone your calves including running, bicycling and stair climbing. All of these activities help burn calories, which can help reduce body fat. Reducing body fat, which typically sits on top of the muscles, can help the muscles show through the skin more prominently, adding to a toned appearance. These activities also require you to use your calf muscles extensively, which can help strengthen and grow the muscles.
While cardiovascular exercise can help strengthen muscles to some degree, adding targeted strength training exercises is often another key component in growing muscle tissue and increasing the toned appearance. In general, the larger the muscle is, the more toned it will look beneath the skin. There are several strength training exercises you can do at home and/or at a gym that can help tone your calves. For each of these exercises, most experts recommend completing the moves 10-12 times in a row for one set, aiming to complete three sets in total, with a brief period of rest in between each one.
One of the simplest strengthening exercises you can do to tone your calves is the standing calf raise. To do a standing calf raise, stand with your feet flat on the ground about hip-width apart. Roll up onto your toes and hold this position for a few seconds, then return to standing with your feet flat on the ground. If this exercise feels too easy, it may help to increase the difficulty by holding weights on your shoulders while you complete the raises.
Another more challenging strengthening exercise to tone your calves is the donkey calf raise. To do this exercise, stand with your feet flat on the ground about hip width apart. Bend over at about a 90-degree angle and hang on to a bar or other sturdy object with your hands and have a partner sit on your back as if he or she were riding a donkey. Then roll up onto your toes, pushing the person on your back upward. Hold the position for a couple of seconds, then return your feet to the flat position.
One final exercise to tone your calves requires access to a leg press machine, typically found at most gyms. To do a calf press, set the leg press machine to a moderate weight, knowing you may need to adjust it up or down as you attempt the calf press. Position your feet at the bottom of the leg press plate with your toes on the plate and your heels hanging off the end. Push the plate as far forward as you can with your toes, adjusting the weight up if the exercise is too easy or down if it's too hard. Regularly working your calves with this exercise and those described above should generally help you tone your calves over a period of weeks or months.