Calf Exercise for Dads

Calf Exercise for Dads
Photo by Victor Freitas / Unsplash

Calf muscles are arguably the muscle group with the most memes. It is no secret that guys who care about how their calves look, albeit a small percentage, are jealous of how some dads’ calves look.

A popular internet meme (excuse the quality)

It is only when I became a dad myself I understood how just being a dad is a huge calf exercise in itself. If you are looking to grow your calves, don’t go to the gym to do calf raises. Do the following instead:

  1. Carrying stuff/baby around
    A big part of being a dad is carrying stuff - carrying the baby and everything that comes with it. Stuff I’ve carried is a long list ranging from groceries, trolleys, high chairs to more groceries. There’s even a name for the exercise, a farmer’s carry. A farmer’s carry is basically just walking around holding heavy dumbbells or a hex bar. It is a full-body exercise, but most often prescribed for forearms and calves. Hold everything and one trip it for extra weight for less repetition. Anything less and you'll be in the cardio zone. You’ll see considerable change in your lower legs after 2-3 months.

Pros: You don’t even realize you’re working out

Cons: Is not an isolation exercise for calves

Looks like a first world dad, but this is the idea

2. Driving in traffic

Do you know what the single greatest calf exercise is? It is driving in heavily congested stop-go traffic. What’s better is that it is a hybrid of isometric and concentric exercise. In Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia the traffic is horrible to the point where 1km/h or 0.62mph is a very possible average driving speed during peak hours. You could just put your car in P and wait there, but that will invite others to cut in front of you in that 20cm space you leave as a gap between you and the car in front of you. Instead, put it in Drive and keep that gap as small as your spatial awareness allows, so that nobody can attack your lane even though your lane is as slow as the next one. As a bonus, this constant braking rocks your baby in the backseat too. If your little one wakes up as soon as the car stops, this exercise is you. The constant braking and releasing requires constant extension of flexion of your right calf (hopefully if you drive like a normal person). I recommend doing this exercise in a manual transmission car to prevent muscle imbalance.

Pros: Good isolation, controlled movement

Cons: You’ll need a very old car with no power brakes for extra gains

3. Rocking a baby to sleep

If you think rocking a baby to sleep is as simple as gently rocking the baby, you are wrong. It takes a high quality musical performance perfectly in sync with a smooth boat-like movement to get the baby into the staring-into-distance sleepy mode just to mess up the put-down and start all over again. Anyways, the boat-like movement is where the exercise is. You can’t just use your upper body to create this gentle rocking movement, so naturally you’ll have to use your legs or your calves specifically. Just as you would do calf raises at the gym, alternate on both legs creating a movement where your hip is almost moving in a vertical circle. If your little one happens to be teething, you’re in for a good hour-long workout session.

Pros: Slow burn in the calves, isometric hold for the biceps is a bonus

Cons: Takes a toll psychologically. Would not recommend.

December 22, 2022