I'm at the gym 2-3 times per week and run a standard set of machines (full body work out) to stay healthy and (hopefully) tune my body a bit.
One of the machines for training the legs always causes my calf muscles to strain and cramp up. When I started working out a couple of months ago my instructor told me to use the cross trainer machine for 10 minutes as warm up. I like it, get warm and probably burn some fat but It doesn't seem to warm up my calf muscles enough.
Are there any exercises for warming up the calf muscles I can add to the cross trainer to avoid the strain/cramp when using the leg machines? I stretch my calf muscles after the work out session and I can really feel them strain. I can usually hold the stretch for 60 seconds without feeling any sense of relief in the calf, so I guess they are pretty strained. Is it OK to stretch muscles when not warmed up? (same exercises as after work out, but before?) Mostly my left calf cramp up, almost never the right one.
I also occassionally wake up when sleeping because of sudden strain/cramp in my calves, though I do believe this has gotten a little bit better since I started working out.
Here is the machine/exercise, but I am lying straight on the bench, not angled:
Edit: If I lower the weight one step I can perform the exercise without cramping. But then I manage 15-20 reps and I feel that is too light weight, so I increase the weight one step and cramp up.
Progress, at last. This evening I managed eight reps and stopped only because I was exhausted, not because of cramp!
I can't point to a single thing that helped - probably a combination of the preparations I made during the day and warm up (mostly suggestions from you guys):
- I've been drinking alot of water today (maybe a bit too much).
- Warming up before exercise I ran 10 minutes on treadmill instead of crosstrainer, at 4% incline. This, I think, made a big difference. As early as 2-3 minutes into it I could feel the calves stretching out and smoothen up. Crosstrainer is great, but running warms up the calves better.
- I also did some "toe pushups", 1 minute or so on each foot, to further warm up the calves before the hamstring curl machine.
Hopefully It'll work next time as well. Thanks for all great suggestions!