March Madness! I love college basketball and the NCAA tournament is the inspiration for today's Exercise of the Day: calf raises with a fitness ball. Strong calf muscles are vital to having great vertical leaps, as well as speed. Strong calf muscles also help prevent injury in the ankles, the upper thigh, and your lower back.
Though calf raises can be performed just about anywhere, especially anywhere you can stand on the edge of a step, I recommend using a fitness ball against a wall (see picture below) to add a bit of instability for extra core work.
Another recommendation I have is to not only do straight-leg calf raises, but also do calf raises with a slight bend in the knee. By bending your knee, you are increasing the use of your soleus muscle, which is close to your ankle. Straight leg calf raises tend to focus more on the development of your gastrocnemius.
Fun fact of the day: Dogs do not have a soleus muscle.