Calves and general fitness

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Calves and general fitness

Postby eeksll » Thu May 03, 2012 5:19 pm

For those of you who don't necessarily train for maximal riding fitness, but fitness in general, do you do any calf exercises?

I have just started interval training with a run group and during some of the shorter stuff we run a bit quicker and use the balls of our feet/calves. I am finding that my calves cramp after these sessions.

I don't utilise my calves on rides and longer runs. So I am assuming the cramping is due to non-use more so than anything else.
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by BNA » Thu May 03, 2012 5:25 pm

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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby rustychisel » Thu May 03, 2012 5:25 pm

the short answer is 'don't run', I reckon.


eeksll wrote:.

I don't utilise my calves on rides and longer runs.


I bet you do, just differing muscle groups.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby gururug » Thu May 03, 2012 5:48 pm

I think it's more to do with range of motion with leg muscles...... If you ride a lot, you lose power in the areas of the muscle/extension that you don't use often.

Core can also become weak in areas too.

Sounds to me like you did an exercise that required muscles / extensions of them that you don't utilize often. Kind of like sleeping in the wrong position.

I remember vividly going for a run after 6 months of cycling and the tendons above my knee killed for days.

No doubt if you keep it up your body will adapt to it.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby grantw » Thu May 03, 2012 7:55 pm

I tried a bit of running earlier in the year and had a lot of trouble with calf tears.

Had some physio for it and one of the exercises to strengthen the calves during the rehabilitation was the pretty simple standing toe raiser - they appear really easy, but they're not :oops: . Apparently there is a big difference between using the thigh and glutes as we do in cycling to push down and pull up, to static lifts with the calf muscle. And running relies on that so much more.

I'm now doing the toe raisers when I remember to and do feel that my pedaling stroke is now more efficient, but alas no more powerful.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby Rex » Thu May 03, 2012 10:46 pm

After 6+ months of the exact same bike geometry but steady improvements in strength etc, my calves are only now starting to give me grief.
No idea why but it's a bit of a worry as it makes the cycling very uncomfortable.

I haven't done any special calf exercises, but I certainly stretch them after each ride.
If I'm not hydrated enough and I've done a ride, my calves will cramp like crazy afterwards and during the night.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby rjk » Fri May 04, 2012 9:19 am

Rex wrote:After 6+ months of the exact same bike geometry but steady improvements in strength etc, my calves are only now starting to give me grief.
No idea why but it's a bit of a worry as it makes the cycling very uncomfortable.

I haven't done any special calf exercises, but I certainly stretch them after each ride.
If I'm not hydrated enough and I've done a ride, my calves will cramp like crazy afterwards and during the night.


try taking a magnesium supplement that really helps with cramps
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby PawPaw » Fri May 04, 2012 9:44 am

I agree with sentiments above that calf cramps are often due to lack of full ankle joint range high repetitions.
If your saddle is on the high side, that will bias less calf range, as you are more likely a toeing, rather then getting your heel down.

Anyway, regular stretches, and a few deep tissue massages to get rid of scarring that might be decades old, often solves it.

other considerations- hydration state, and lumbar disc bulge putting pressure on sciatic nerve, though this usually only effects one leg at a time.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby foo on patrol » Fri May 04, 2012 3:29 pm

Stand on the edge of a stair and do raises! :)

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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby greyhoundtom » Fri May 04, 2012 3:48 pm

Rex wrote:After 6+ months of the exact same bike geometry but steady improvements in strength etc, my calves are only now starting to give me grief.
No idea why but it's a bit of a worry as it makes the cycling very uncomfortable.

I haven't done any special calf exercises, but I certainly stretch them after each ride.
If I'm not hydrated enough and I've done a ride, my calves will cramp like crazy afterwards and during the night.

I copt massive calf pain including cramp during the night when I stayed at my daughters place for four weeks, mainly because I had to walk up and down stairs about thirty times a day.

If you are getting calf pain while cycling move your cleats 5 mm towards the heel. This is just enough to take the strain off your calves but not enough to feel uncomfortable.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby Rex » Sat May 05, 2012 11:22 pm

Did 120km today with no calf pain.
Made a real effort to perform a complete range of motion with my feet/calves... something I need a lot of practice on.
Previously I was definitely not lifting my toes up enough on the 'push' stroke.

Got some new speedplays to fit when the weather dries up, so will play with cleat positioning then also.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby Mrfenejeans » Sun May 06, 2012 9:31 pm

Muscles used in a pedal stroke.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby eeksll » Mon May 07, 2012 12:43 am

calf raises, do people do this with weights, no weights, lots of raises, raises till you can't so any more?

rustychisel wrote:I bet you do, just differing muscle groups.

Yeah, this is true, I TRY to ride heel down, so my calf muscles are used holding my ankle straight, not in a fully shortened state. So its more of a static hold than a forceful push.

An opinion on the matter of calf cramps which might be worth thinking about for all those with calf troubles when on the bike.
Pedal with heel down on the push stroke, this will help with calf cramps (not sure about calf tears). The calf is a small muscle, relative to the other leg muscles, using it when not sprinting will tire it quickly leading to cramps or the inability to sustain the motion.

The one negative of this is when I suddenly want to "sprint"/ride faster and do use my calves, they do cramp.

Same applies in running when not sprinting. Pushing off aggressively with the calf when running will just tire the calf quickly and cause cramps.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby Downhill » Mon May 07, 2012 1:10 am

greyhoundtom wrote:... If you are getting calf pain while cycling move your cleats 5 mm towards the heel. This is just enough to take the strain off your calves but not enough to feel uncomfortable.


+1.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby durilium » Mon May 07, 2012 4:51 pm

I train for general fitness part of that is leg presses and squats in the gym, they both build strength and size, some people don't like the size part.

I can say it's made a huge difference to my riding so far with massive positive improvements in hill climbing, i find i still get the burn but can sort of breathe it out and keep the power on if that makes any sense. If you are looking at building/strenghtening your calves then leg presses would be the go, if you wanna do a total leg workout and build the lot then do some squats even just the bar to begin with to get your form right, not only that the squat is great for your core as well.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby eeksll » Tue May 08, 2012 10:28 pm

Not 100% sure if the leg press is much different to the squat in terms of calf work out, but I have been doing squats during this whole run period.

durilium, interesting to hear your experience regarding the leg press and helping your riding. I found they have not helped me much, I stopped riding for about 3 weeks where I did alot of running and I also started squats maybe 3 weeks before that. Going back into my ride, it felt like i had not ridden for 3 weeks.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby scotto » Wed May 09, 2012 4:00 pm

gururug wrote:....No doubt if you keep it up your body will adapt to it.


best advice..
oh, and stretch after exercise, and maybe some magnesium tablets for a few weeks ( coles / woolies have mg+ca for about $15, health rip off shops have Mg powder for $60).
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby PawPaw » Wed May 09, 2012 10:40 pm

scotto wrote:
gururug wrote:....No doubt if you keep it up your body will adapt to it.


best advice..
oh, and stretch after exercise, and maybe some magnesium tablets for a few weeks ( coles / woolies have mg+ca for about $15, health rip off shops have Mg powder for $60).


Then compare with a commonly available antacid like Rennies.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby g-boaf » Mon May 21, 2012 10:37 am

Rex wrote:After 6+ months of the exact same bike geometry but steady improvements in strength etc, my calves are only now starting to give me grief.
No idea why but it's a bit of a worry as it makes the cycling very uncomfortable.

I haven't done any special calf exercises, but I certainly stretch them after each ride.
If I'm not hydrated enough and I've done a ride, my calves will cramp like crazy afterwards and during the night.


Yeah, I get troubles with my calf muscles too, but only on the right leg - not the left one. I can feel it starting to cramp up - not fun at all. I'll have a look at all the advice above. The saddle high is fairly high, but not that high. As you said, I've never had any problems before, only now.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby Rex » Wed May 30, 2012 5:26 pm

Well I now have Speedplay Zero pedals fitted and been concentrating on my technique more and I haven't had any calf issues.

I imagine it will be something I'll have to continually monitor but obviously the right setup and technique helps.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby durilium » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:26 am

eeksll wrote:Not 100% sure if the leg press is much different to the squat in terms of calf work out, but I have been doing squats during this whole run period.

durilium, interesting to hear your experience regarding the leg press and helping your riding. I found they have not helped me much, I stopped riding for about 3 weeks where I did alot of running and I also started squats maybe 3 weeks before that. Going back into my ride, it felt like i had not ridden for 3 weeks.


Well doing equate and presses won't do anything for your aerobic fitness which you would have missed out on when off the bike, some people run instead to make up for it but I've found it's not the same as proper riding which I guess is what you've found out.

I don't ride as much as most of the guys on here as I only ride to do charity events and noosa century etc, I generally go for a good ride once a week/ two weeks or if a mate comes for a visit wanting to go for a roll.

I used to ride competitively years ago and do the club rides etc etc but to be honest now years later I'm totally over
It especially know alot of the club rides are more about showing off the new shiny at the coffee shop and who has the biggest wallet.

I do my gym 3 times a week and I ramp up the time on the bike about a month before a charity ride is coming up to get the fitness up an extra bit, finished the brissy to the bay in just under three hours and I reckon I could of went round a second time so my program works for me but probably not for everyone.

Another thing is I am naturally thin as well so I don't rely on cycling for weight loss at all.

In relation to calf muscle fitness, after I've done my leg press reps I'll drop the weight right down to about 60kg and then instead if having my whole foot on the base of the press let the foot hang over the edge and only have the toes on the platform, let the heels dip below the base plate of the press the push the weight just using your toes/calves, have fun walking afterwards ;)

If you have no access to a gym or can't afford membership you can do something at home that is pretty close to doing a squat, they are called weighted lunges. So basically you are lunging whilst taking biiiiig steps and you have a weight in each hand, that weight cab be anything from a can of baked beans to a dumbell if you own a set.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby g-boaf » Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:26 pm

I ended up see the physio for my problems after I ended up with severe pain in the right leg. It turned out I had torn the calf muscle, not badly. So rehabilitation and those standing on the edge of the stairs and doing raises (up and down). It's feeling better - moved the cleat backwards a tiny bit too.
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby dougalh » Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:28 pm

Rex wrote:After 6+ months of the exact same bike geometry but steady improvements in strength etc, my calves are only now starting to give me grief.
No idea why but it's a bit of a worry as it makes the cycling very uncomfortable.

I haven't done any special calf exercises, but I certainly stretch them after each ride.
If I'm not hydrated enough and I've done a ride, my calves will cramp like crazy afterwards and during the night.


I've got the same problem as you. just recently in the last two weeks me calves have been beginning to cramp on rides and after (right now after ive done 90k hills ride) they give me grief. Squats will help? what are leg presses?
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Re: Calves and general fitness

Postby wurtulla wabbit » Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:43 pm

I get cramps but not when cycling, just sprinting.
Golf on weekend and I also play on the wing at footy (6's weds, 11's Friday night).
I get cramps around the 80min mark in a harder game.
Just back from a 70klm ride to bli bli
And back to currimundi bridge.
Averaged 27kph with a couple of quick stops in there.
Not one cramp.
Different usage of calves from footy and you couldn't ride and not use them in one way or another.
I put the cramps down to diet,vitamin deficiency and the intensity of the sport associated.
My diet isn't bad, just not as good as it should be.

Edit, they get tight if I spend too much time out of seat on the balls of my feet.
I'd say stretching them out a bit and some diet advice.
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