The calf muscles consist of two primary muscles...the Gastrocnemius and the Soleus.
On the front side of the lower leg is the Tibialis Anterior.
Anatomy Chart courtesy of FCIT
The Gastrocnemius is the calf muscle that is visible from the outside of the body. It attaches to the heel with the Achilles Tendon and originates behind the knee on the femur, crossing two joints.
The Gastrocnemius has two heads: the medial and the lateral. When fully developed, these two heads appear to form a diamond shape.
The Soleus is not visible when looking at the body from the outside as it lies underneath the Gastrocnemius on the rear of the lower leg. The Soleus is most active when doing calf exercises where the knee is bent, such as seated calf raises.
Functions of the Calf Muscles
The function of the Gastrocnemius is to elevate the heel (known as plantar flexion).
The function is the Soleus is exactly the same as the Gastrocnemius: to raise the heel. The only difference is that it works in a different position: with the knee bent.
Exercises that work the Gastrocnemius and Soleus include:
- Standing calf raises - (Gastrocnemius)
- Seated calf raises - (Soleus)
- Donkey calf raises - (Gastrocnemius)
Visit the Calf Exercise Index for more exercises to work your calves.
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