Popular exercises focusing on the calves include the single-leg calf raise, double-leg calf raise and the seated calf raise. According to WebMD, the key to toning and strengthening the calves is targeting the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.
WebMD indicates that calf raises are widely regarded by those in the fitness industry as the most effective exercises for the calves. All types of calf raises use the body's own weight to work the calf muscles. Standing calf raises, which include the single- and double-leg calf raise exercises, are performed by shifting the body's weight to the balls of the feet, or just the ball of one foot in the case of the single-leg version, which forces the calves to engage. The abdominal muscles should be pulled in during these exercises to avoid tilting forward or backward. The seated calf raise is performed in a similar fashion, with weights resting on a person's thighs.
Men's Fitness reports that the seated calf raise primarily works the soleus muscle, while the standing calf raise chiefly works the gastrocnemius muscle. The health magazine recommends twice-weekly calf workouts. Gradually increasing the reps, weight or sets used is the key to increasing calf strength and muscle mass.