Stretching the hamstrings for the general population is a doomed, never-ending cycle of stepping forwards and being forced right back to the same spot again.
Whereas stretching the calves is even worse. The gains are slow, it’s painful and mind numbing. You have to endure long hold times and most of us would just about do anything instead of
waste spend 2-3 minutes pulling our toes up to our knees, while trying to force that damn ankle to the ground….and then have to repeat it on the other side!
In a ‘get -it-yesterday’ world, hacks are becoming ever popular; you haven’t got time for just doing one thing at once, right? You want to be able to do as many thing at once as possible, right?!
While for the most part this is making us stupid and giving us ADHD, there can be times when it’s ideal to try and hunt multiple birds with one stone…
Stretching the hamstrings & calves simultaneously is definitely one of them.
The calves attach to the hamstrings and are often a ‘bottleneck’ for hamstring flexibility gains. You stretch your hamstrings like your life depends on it and really you should be attacking them stubborn bastard calves.
In some cases you may need to be stretching both, so how the hell do you know which to pursue? You don’t. You start off with a compounded approach and go from there.
Enter the ‘elevated toes approach’.
While the title offered you one move, I actually have three simple time tested moves I like to elevate the toes on, to supercharge the hamstring/calf flexibility gains from!
1. The toes elevated Romanian Deadlift
It’s just the same as a standard RDL, only you have the toes elevated. This will place the calf and ankle under a stronger stretch and thus, stretch the hamstrings under load more than normal.
2. The toes elevated Jefferson Curl/Rolldown/Deep Squat – Fold combo
A nice way to make it harder without going heavier or super deep, yet still getting the gains. You can use any of the variations. Check out my short video of the loaded pike/squat combo below:
3. The toes elevated Goblet/resting squat
This one doesn’t even need to a goblet squat, it an be done without weight, only the weight in the front rack/goblet position will make finding depth much easier and feel more comfortable – you have to have pretty mobile ankles to just sink to full depth & sit upright at the bottom of a squat, with your toes elevated.
What’s nice about these is you can use them before or after any main lifts involving those moves – deadlifting, squatting etc. You don’t need to go crazy heavy as the subtle elevation of the balls of the feet, paired with the moderate loading, will take care of the stretch.
You don’t even need to go ballistic with the amount of toe elevation; just a small 1.25kg weight disc is about right – a quarter to half inch can be plenty, especially on squats!
If you find your hamstrings feel tight before deadlifting/hinging, some toes elevated RDLs will free you up nicely. The same goes for tight ankles in deep/ATG squats, some toes elevated goblet squats with a pause at the bottom will make the non-toes elevated/regular version feel way more comfortable.
Lastly, this approach achieves multiple things at once: you’re loading the muscle at length, targeting the muscles in a chain-like fashion and warming up/cooling down for/from anything else you’re doing.
Time efficient, effective & very simple.
I’ve made a YouTube #shorts video to go along with this article if you’d like a video representation of this, too…
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