The Soleus is one of the hardest working muscles in the entire body.
It’s one of the reasons that your legs can power through exactly what they do, so strengthening it certainly isn’t a bad idea!
In this article we’ll be going over what exactly the soleus is, and a few different exercises you can perform to strengthen it. Let’s get started.
What Is The Soleus?
The soleus is the deeper of the two main calf muscles. It runs from just behind the knee to the heel where it merges with the achilles tendon.
The bulkier part of the calf which is called the gastrocnemius sits just on top of it.
Together they produce the force to point the toes, which plays a huge part in walking, running, and sprinting.
The gastrocnemius does the work when we sprint, and the soleus does the work at endurance paces.
The soleus also contains several large veins, and when we run, the muscle contraction pumps blood through those veins back to the heart.
Needless to say it’s an incredibly important muscle that powers you through those long runs.
Why Should You Exercise Your soleus?
As our foot hits the ground, our achilles tendon and calf muscles lengthen and store elastic energy, which is a bit like an archer drawing a bow.
Then as we move into the second half of the stride the soleus contracts to power us up and forward into the next stride. It’s this contraction that keeps us moving.
A soleus specific strengthening program has been shown to directly improve your efficiency when running.
So, soleus strengthening exercises will allow you to run further and faster. So definitely not a bad thing at all.
As well as this, stronger muscles tend to be more injury resistant, so the stronger your soleus is, the less likely you are to injure yourself when working out.
The Best Exercises To Strengthen Your Soleus
There’s 3 main ways to strengthen your soleus, let’s take a look at them:
Seated Soleus Raise With Weight
To target the soleus when you do your calf raises, studies have shown that your knee needs to be bent to at least 80 degrees.
The most practical way of achieving this is performing the calf raises whilst seated, as trying to maintain a deep bend in the knee whilst standing can put unnecessary strain on the knee.
Bear in mind that whatever version of the exercise you are doing, the weight you choose needs to be heavy enough to cause total fatigue by either 30 seconds or 12 repetitions. Only then will your body be stimulated enough to see any real change.
Your goal is to increase the weight over time as you get stronger, as by doing that you’ll start to see improvements in your muscle.
Standing Bent Knee Calf Raise
If you’ve got a chair or anything to lean on then this is a perfect and easy way for you to workout your soleus, simply raise up onto the tips of your toes, then slowly come off them and repeat.
This is a no brainer, and yet it’s really effective at working out your soleus muscle without any equipment.
Simply do as much as you feel comfortable with, but be sure to not overwork yourself.
Forward Step Down
Another simple yet effective one, simply standing on a stool or whatever you’ve got nearby and stepping down whilst keeping your lower foot straight.
Not only is this effective for strengthening your soleus, it’s great for building strength in the lower leg and the knee joint too.
How Often Should You Work Out Your Soleus?
When attempting to strengthen your soleus, you should aim to work out at least 2 times a week, but not going over 3.
Your soleus is an extremely important part of your body and if you damage it when working out, then you’ll really feel the pain.
Aim to do 2 good workouts a week if you’re really looking to strengthen your soleus in a short period of time.
If you’re a runner, or just want to strengthen the lower half of your body, then training your soleus is never a bad idea.
A strong soleus can give you the power and endurance you need to be faster, and keep that speed up when running, so when you’re next planning your workout routine, do yourself a favour and train your soleus, even if it’s once a week, you’ll begin to see results fairly quickly.