Running Calf Strength Exercise: Ankling Drill

The calf complex is an area commonly injured in athletes of all running sports, not just endurance sports.

Broadly speaking, one muscular imbalance which will often predispose an athlete to calf injury is weakness and lack of local muscular endurance in Gastrocnemius, the main “meaty” muscle of the calf complex.

The video below shows a simple exercise which Physiotherapists at London Irish Rugby Club uses to both evaluate and train strength and local muscular endurance in the calf muscles of their Professional Rugby Players.

While this is obviously something we picked up from the world of rugby, it’s incredibly applicable to all running sports.

Calf Strength Endurance Testing

I understand that the baseline score they require their players to achieve in pre-season is 300 reps (yes 300, try it!) – without heels touching down. If a player fails this baseline, they are put on a specific strengthening protocol to help mitigate this injury risk factor.

Building Calf Strength Endurance

Try adding 3 sets of 2 mins performing this “Ankling Drill” as part of your running strength routine.

An Added Bonus…

In addition to being a great calf strengthening drill. The lifting component of the exercise, pulling the foot actively up into dorsiflexion (pulling toes up towards shin) develops strength in Tibialis Anterior – another big player in lower leg muscular imbalances.

About The Author 

James has an academic background in Sport Rehabilitation and a special interest in Applied Biomechanics. He currently coaches a large number of Runners and Triathletes across all levels of ability and performance. He's grown a strong reputation for enabling athletes to improve their running performance and overcome running injuries through improving their Running Technique and developing Running Specific Strength.



  • James, your page says the pre-season test is 300 reps, but the video is 2 minute sets. I am not sure I understand the 300 reps.

    • Hi Mike, the test is 300 reps (no time constraint) as a one-off assessment. The same drill is then used to build strength in 2min bursts (time based sets, not rep number based).

  • You might look like a bit of a tool, but I’ve found this to be a fab drill to do around the house/office. If you find yourself in an empty corridor, rise and start strengthening 🙂

  • Not sure that I get this. Is it just walking on your tip toes keeping the ankle locked?

  • […] Ever since I injured my calf this past summer, I’ve been very careful about not injuring it again. I wear a compression sleeve during races and long training runs, and I make sure that I stretch them and warm them up before running. It occurred to me that I probably do some exercises to increase and develop strength in my calves too. I found this very simple exercise on Kinetic Revolution, one of my go to sites for running advice, and thought I’d share their Ankling Drills Exercise. […]

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