Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Favorite Machine

"Raindrops on roses. Whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Standing calf press machines tied up with strings—" oh. Hold on. Definitely not the right words at the end there. But still, they ring true. The standing calf press machine has got to be one of my most favorite things.

At least when it comes to fitness equipment. But, alas...I have not used one in quite some time. That's not to say that I've been ignoring my calf muscles. I have access to seated calf and leg press machines, plus thousands of steps and ledges on which I can do standing calf presses. But they're just not the same and I miss my standing calf press machine. True, I could use a Smith machine and some weight plates. Again, just not the same. But a girl can't have everything, right? So I've gotten used to these other things. And you should, too. Never forget about your calf muscles.

They're just as important as any other muscle you focus on. Girls, not only do toned calf muscles look great in a high heel—they protect your ankle with strength and support. Your ankles, guys that might be reading this.

So if your gym has one, familiarize yourself with the standing calf press machine. It's not at all intimidating. Just select an appropriate weight, let your heels hang over the edge, press your shoulders into the pads and find the release lever. Lift and lower, keeping your legs straight and focusing on bending and flexing that angle joint using your calf muscle.

If your gym doesn't have a standing calf press machine, here's how you can improvise:

1) Locate the seated calf press or leg press machines. They'll get the job done.
2) Grab a set of hand weights and find the nearest step or platform.
3) Load up a free bar or Smith machine with some weight plates. To keep your shoulders safe, hold
    the bar right in front of your thigh muscles as you lift and lower. Oh, and stand on the floor rather
    than a step or platform. You'll want a solid, stable surface.
4) Mock the seated calf press machine. Grab a weight plate and take a seat on the nearest bench or
    chair. Lift and lower your heels while contracting your calf muscles.
5) Take a seat on the floor, legs stretched out in front of you. Loop a tension-heavy band around your
    feet, right at the balls of your feet. Point and flex repeatedly, pulling on the band as needed to adjust
    the tension.

Sound good? Good. Oh, and by the way—don't let fitness equipment intimidate you. It's usually fairly friendly. Just look for the label, as there should be one on every piece. And it should be chock full of how-to information. If not, find a trainer at your facility and ask for an orientation. They should be willing to walk you through each and every piece. Who knows, you might find a new favorite along the way.

Question: What is your favorite machine and why?

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