How to Build Ankle Muscles

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A person's ankle size is largely a result of bone size dictated by genetics. However, there are exercises a person can perform to increase the size and strength of the tendons that extend into the ankle from various calf muscles. There are also small ankle muscles that can be developed. Most exercises involve movements such as rising up on the toes during calf raises and seated calf raises.

Things You'll Need

  • Wall
  • Steps
  • Dumbbell
  • Chair
  • Stretch your calf and ankle muscles against a wall. Place both of your hands against the wall, placing your right foot back and the left one forward. Slowly lean into the wall by bending both your elbows and your left knee. Stretch your right ankle and calf muscles for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat the same movement with your right leg forward and your left leg back. Do three repetitions each way.

  • Grab a railing at the bottom of a flight of steps. Place your toes and balls of both feet on the edge of the bottom step. Allow the back half of both feet to hang over the edge. Slowly raise up on your toes then come back down and stretch your calf muscles. Start out with 10 to 25 repetitions. Do two more sets with 10 to 25 repetitions. Repeat this exercise two to three times weekly. Gradually, try to increase your repetitions each workout so you are doing as many repetitions as you can.

  • Grab a light dumbbell in your left hand, place your right foot on the edge of the bottom step and hold the railing with your right hand. Hold the dumbbell close to your right leg for leverage while keeping your left leg suspended behind you. Slowly lift yourself up on your right heel, then lower yourself back down and stretch your calf muscle. Do 10 repetitions. Switch legs and do the same movement with your left leg, using the wall for support instead of the railing. Do 10 repetitions. Perform three total sets with each leg. Repeat this exercise two to three times weekly.

  • Sit on a chair with both feet on the floor. Lean forward and place your hands on your knees. Slowly lift both heels off the floor using some of your body weight as resistance. Lower your heels back to the floor. Do three sets of 10 to 25 repetitions. Gradually, try to increase your repetitions each workout to as many as you can do. Perform this exercise two to three times per week.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can do all of these exercises at home. The first two exercises hit the major calf muscle or gastrocnemius. The third one hits the soleus muscle or lower part of your calves. Your muscles will start responding to resistance training fairly quickly and will grow as you place more demand on them. It is always best to warm up by first stretching the ankle and calves. Later, you use heavier dumbbells or even join a gym. Most gyms have standing and seated calf machines that can help you build bigger and stronger ankles.
  • Never stretch your ankles or calves too far in one direction. This can injure or rupture your Achilles tendon. Keep your movements within a comfortable range of motion.

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