Get bike fit this year with this simple yet effective training plan
Having already discussed four muscle groups in previous issues of ABR, the next area that we are going to focus on is found on the posterior of the lower legs – the calves. This is made up of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, which are important in any motorcycling movement that involves planting your toes (e.g. standing up on the pegs).
These muscles are sometimes neglected by people but are very important when muscle balance is considered. Weak calves can lead to problems with walking gait and performing any strenuous activity such as jogging, jumping or running. The action of plantar flexion that the calves produces is even used in walking, so it really is important to include these exercises in your circuit.
The first exercise here is the standing calf raise. The best method here is to use a small step (if available). I have used many hotel rooms whilst adventure travelling and there is usually a step of some sort, or when in the wilds I’ve used a suitable rock. The key here is balance, as you need full range of movement (ROM) to work the whole gastrocnemius.
Stand on a step with the only the balls of the feet in contact and shoulder width apart, then let your body weight drop the heels down as to where the movement stops naturally. Only moving the ankle joint, raise your entire body up straight using the calves. Use the one second up, one second down tempo and aim for 15 reps over two sets. You may need to hold onto a wall whilst you do this exercise as it requires an element of balance.
The second exercise is to target the lower leg soleus muscle where you need to be in a sitting position. Sit on a chair with your feet shoulder width apart, then lean forward and place your hands or elbows on top of your thighs. This is the key point: you are going to provide your own resistance for this exercise.
Raise your heels up whilst keeping the balls of your feet planted on the floor whilst simultaneously pushing down your thighs. This will take a little practice for you to work out how much resistance to provide to tire your soleus across 15 reps. Again, perform two sets in your growing circuit of exercises.
The last exercise is actually a stretch, as calf tightness can lead to stress fractures whilst running. Therefore, you must keep your calf muscles in a flexible state. We haven’t dealt with any stretching so far in this circuit but is very important here. There will be more stretching articles in future issues.
The standing calf stretch is the stretch you may remember doing at school. Stand with one foot in front of the other whilst ‘pushing’ against a wall (or a tree). The rear foot should be planted and you should experiment with different distances between the feet to get the stretching feeling in the calf area. Lean into the stretch and hold for 30 seconds, then switch and repeat with the other foot.
This calf routine has been designed to be tagged on to our adventure bike fitness circuit training plan. Perform these exercises along with those that we detailed in the previous four issues of Adventure Bike Rider magazine.
The overall thing to remember here is that the growing circuit you are building can be used both indoors or out and you can utilise many natural or man-made objects to augment your workout.