Whether you’re bare-legged or wearing tights or boots, defined calves make your legs look strong — and make taking the stairs that much easier. The Cut consulted with Pure Barre instructor Sarah Wingo for the most effective ways to tone your lower legs. Read on for three easy moves you can do at home.
Step 1A: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and place your hands behind your head. Make sure your back is in a neutral position, and not arched. Without moving your upper body, lift and lower both heels for 20 seconds. If you struggle to maintain balance, grip a sturdy chair, or place your hand on the wall. (You can do this with the other moves, too.)
Step 1B: Maintaining the same upper-body position from the previous step, bring your heels together but keep your toes apart. Lift and lower your heels for 20 seconds.
Step 1C: Now make this move slightly more challenging by staying on your tippy toes. Pulse your heels upward in tiny bursts for an additional 20 seconds. Repeat steps A through C three more times.
Step 2A: Space your feet so that they’re wider than hip-width apart and turn out your toes slightly. While maintaining a straight and neutral back, bend your knees into a wide squat and extend your arms forward. Lift and lower your right heel for 30 seconds. Switch and repeat the move with your left heel for another 30 seconds. Finally, lift and lower both heels at the same time for yet another 30 seconds.
Step 2B: With both heels off the ground now, pulse your heels in short bursts for 30 seconds. When finished, repeat steps A and B for a total of three rounds.
Step 3A: This is the most challenging yet rewarding move in the bunch. Stand to the right of a wall, a sturdy chair, or some variation of a support. Lightly gripping this support with your right hand, place your left hand on your left hip and extend your left leg up as high as you can, but not higher than hip-height. Softly bend your right knee while rising high on your right tippy toe. Alternate pointing and flexing your left foot for 20 seconds.
Step 3B: Keeping your left toe pointed, pulse your right leg up for 20 seconds.
Step 3C: For the last variation, bend your left leg and lower your right heel to the floor. Lift and lower this heel for 20 seconds. Now switch sides and repeat moves A through C once more.