What are you? A bunny rabbit? Stiff-leg Ankle Hops look a whole lot like the bunny hop. It’s ok to be a bunny if that means you get ripped calves.
This exercise is based on childhood schoolyard games, but it’s been adapted by strength trainers through Plyometric exercise methods to get ripped calves, as well as to improve ankle flexibility and tone the muscles in the shins. It looks simple, but it’s effective and can feel brutal in those muscles after a while. That brutality is a good thing if you’re training for a competition.
Why Plyo Works
The Stiff-leg Ankle Hop is a Plyometric exercise, and it works. That’s because Plyo relies on jumping and hopping motions to get the body moving.
This kind of workout is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). It gets the heart going fast and pushes the body hard, then takes a rest. Interval training has been shown to improve cardiovascular health and increase endurance, and honestly to be really fun. Jumping is something that kids do, and when we as adults add it to our workout regimen, it becomes fun for us too.
Hit the Right Target
The calf muscles in the lower leg are some of the most challenging muscles to target. They are difficult to get to specifically, without using a lot of other muscles, that is.
Doing the exercise is simple – just hop!
- Stand with legs perfectly straight, arms by your sides.
- Hop up and down, with your feet just a few inches off the floor.
- Use only the ankle muscles to push up and down, and do not bend the knees or bend at the waist.
- Continue hopping with rapid motion for your set amount of time, or until you can’t keep going.
It’s important to set workout goals for yourself before you do anything. Working out can be fun, but if you want to get results, you need goals. How many reps you do of a given exercise, like this one, depends on what your goals are. Pushing to failure (when you go until you can’t anymore) is one way to grow muscles fast. Another option is to go for fewer reps but to take breaks and go again. This builds endurance.
Varying Your Bunny Hop
The important part of doing this exercise is to keep the top of the body still, all the way down through the knees. The ankles must be the only parts of the body doing the work.
If you want to switch it up, you can do some variations on the Stiff-leg Ankle Hop. Try adding some free weights to the mix. Ankle weights are another good option. Be careful with any of these variations, however, as the ankle is a small joint. Bodyweight with higher reps or longer rounds is sufficient for most fitness enthusiasts.
To keep it fun and light, a great way to do this exercise is with a partner. See which of you can hop the longest! It’s also a lot of fun to do with kids around, because really, what kid doesn’t love to hop?