When you look at fighters like T.J Dillashaw, Manny Pacquiao, Conor McGregor, or Floyd Mayweather and you observe their impeccable ability to just float around the octagon or ring without getting hit, it certainly makes you wonder what constitutes having such great footwork amidst the pressure in a fight.
Well, having strong calves is certainly an important factor.
Having strong calves is one of the most important prerequisites for an extreme level of footwork.
Having strong legs will enable the fighter to explode in and out of his opponent’s range to evade strikes, while still maintaining enough freshness to last the fighter throughout the fight.
This is a result of a muscle called the Tibialis Anterior.
This muscle is located in the middle of the leg and is mainly responsible for the flexing of the foot.
The more you are able to flex your foot in a fight signifies how fast you can move in and out of danger.
So, now that we know how having strong legs and calves can improve footwork for combat sports athletes, we can look at some exercises which lead to fighters having strong calves.
Exercises that increase Calf strength and size
1. Jumping Rope
If you’ve ever followed any fighter’s training videos, especially that of boxers, then one of the most common exercises you’ll come across is jumping rope.
Jumping rope helps engage the calves in a way most exercises won’t, and it also helps with conditioning. It’s no surprise that this is Floyd Mayweather’s favorite exercise.
Roadwork involves all activities that pertain to a boxer or an athlete running.
It could be hill running, short-distance sprints, treadmill running or even marathon running.
But whatever it is, running is a very effective way of getting really strong calves.
3. Calf raises
Ever wondered why Manny Pacquiao has calves built like a truck? Well, this is why.
Calf raises build both calf strength and size. To do this, you stand straight on your feet, then lift your feet till you are on your toes, and then slowly return to your feet.
It is the simplest and most effective way to build calf strength.
Calf size Vs. calf strength
There might be a popular misconception among our readers that calf size equates to calf strength, but this is extremely wrong.
For one, a large calf size might just signify extreme fat in the leg, and this is a big disadvantage to combat sports athletes, as footwork and overall leg conditioning will be impeded.
Secondly, the majority of the boxers have fairly skinny legs, take Deontay Wilder and Mayweather for instance, but they can still move really well throughout 12 rounds.
This is because the calves are strong and well-conditioned.
So, this is where we leave it for now, if you are an aspiring boxer or Martial artist, and you want to have impeccable footwork and agility, then building a solid and strong calf is certainly the route to go.