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dorsi flexor (calf) training

Can anyone describe their effective routines to directly train the front muscles of the calves, the dorsi flexors? I couldn’t find anything useful in a forum search. I tried an Ian King routine where you do toe-ups under the roller of a leg curl machine – but I could never achieve a full stretch because the roller kept on rolling off my toes. I’ve also tried using cables and even putting a barbell on the toes but they didn’t exactly work out. Any proven ways you could recommend?

If I can’t find a way how to do this with existing gym equipment, I might have to buy the Dynamic Axial Resistance Device (any opinions on this one) which Poliquin recommends in the Principles book .

The only thing that I have found to work well for the tibialis anterior are the specific machines(some gyms do have them)and Thera-bands(the type they use for rehab of muscles)…Or powerbands that alot of people use. Or if you wanted to be crafty you could make a set of weighted shoes pretty easily if you put your mind to it. Hope this helps.


Lower the cable on an adjustable cable machine so that it’s as far down as it can go. Lie down in front of it with your feet towards it. Hook a strap on the end and loop it over your toes. Then just flex your foot up. This should allow you to get a full ROM. You can also do plate drags with your toes - be sure to drag though, not kick :slight_smile:

Hey, thanks for the recommendations Pugs and Kim. All of them sound like good ideas.

Incidentally, I just thought of something. Would anyone agree that jump ropeing would also work the front calves? I just remembered how that area became somewhat sore when I did Renegade rope training for six weeks. However, I didn’t experience much hypertrophy then because I was on a diet.

Jump rope works your gastronimus muscle not the tibialis anterior. Have tried putting a plate on your toes and then lifting the weight towards you? Just a suggestion.

Actually running downhill would actually work them to an extent…they would act as a stabilizer of the foot. Try that


Running down hill too often is going to give you shin splints and is also very hard on the knees and feet. I would not recommend it whatsoever.

Also, we have a DARD II at my gym and the thing works great. I can’t imagine that it is very expensive at all.

Derek’s right.

However, if you have a hill handy what you CAN do is walk up it backwards, making sure to start each step on your toes, “roll” your foot down onto the ground, and then come up (dorsiflex) onto your heel each step of the way. Slowly.

My bad I didn’t think about the shin splints aspect fo it nor did I consider it. I think the other stuff mentioned would do a better job anyways, but I wanted to give him all the options.


Sit down on a bench. Fold a towel and put it on top of your toes. Get a thick board or plate to put under the heel for the stretch (one of those step-up things the girls carry around works perfect). Put a weight plate on the toes of one foot and balance with your hand while doing the lifting. The range of motion is pretty short, so go for some hefty time under tension numbers (I would try 3-3-3-3 and see how that feels). Do one foot at a time and be sure to only balance the weight and not assist the lift.
Hope this helps.