Some individuals go to the health club simply to look good, and that’s a effective purpose to have. They spend effort and time working numerous muscle teams to enhance their aesthetics and attain their dream physique. Yet, some physique elements aren’t at all times given the identical consideration as others.

Credit: Ruslan Shugushev / Shutterstock

Let’s be actual. The calves are generally ignored. That’s a disgrace, as a result of not solely do muscular calves contribute to a well-balanced, eye-pleasing physique, however additionally they assist optimum knee and ankle well being and efficiency. And what extra easy train than the standing calf increase to develop this muscle group? Let’s check out this efficient train, and learn the way and why it ought to now not be ignored.

How to Do the Standing Calf Raise

The standing calf increase is a reasonably easy motion, but it surely’s definitely potential to have issues with efficiency. Let’s cowl correct use of this machine to ship full calf growth.

Step 1 — Get Into the Starting Position

person performing standing calf raise exerciseCredit: Ascendancy Fitness / YouTube

Set your toes roughly shoulder-width aside on the block or step. Only the entrance halves of your toes ought to be on the step. Your heels ought to be hanging within the air. Keep your steadiness by holding the shoulder pads or assist handles. Make positive your arms avoid the weights and any shifting elements.

Keep your knees bent and your again straight as you place your shoulders below the pads. Stand tall by pushing into the balls of your toes and straightening your knees. Keep your core tight to take care of a straight again.

Form tip: Adjust the shoulder pad top so you may stand upright with further room to carry out a full vary of movement calf increase. When standing tall, it is best to be capable of rise onto your toes whereas retaining a straight line out of your shoulders to your toes. If it’s a must to hunch over or bend your knees, the train gained’t be as environment friendly.

Step 2 — Push Through the Balls of Your Feet

person performing calf raises on machineCredit: Jasminko Ibrakovic / Shutterstock

Push via the balls of your toes to lift your heels as excessive as potential. Keep your legs straight to forestall bigger leg muscle tissues from serving to. Pause for one second on the prime and flex your calves as a lot as potential. Keep your higher physique steady. Resist any urge to shrug your shoulders whereas your toes transfer.

Form tip: Completely prolong your ankles, pushing all the best way to the highest. The vary of movement is comparatively restricted on this train as a result of the ankle is a comparatively small joint. Don’t scale back the vary of movement additional by stopping earlier than your calves are totally contracted.

Step 3 — Lower Your Heels Slowly

person in standing calf raise machineCredit: Ascendancy Fitness / YouTube

Let your heels sink slowly in direction of the bottom, dorsiflexing your foot (letting your heels drop beneath your toes). Your calves ought to be in a totally stretched place.

Stay within the stretched place for a second to forestall rebounding or momentum earlier than repeating for extra repetitions.

Form tip: The stretch is a vital element of calf progress, so don’t be afraid of feeling a stretch within the backside place. However, some individuals lack ankle mobility and have restricted vary of movement. To reduce the chance of harm, use a gradual, managed velocity and keep away from dropping shortly into the underside place.

Standing Calf Raise Mistakes to Avoid

When it involves constructing muscular calves, errors will cease muscle progress in its tracks. If you need features, performing every repetition completely is of the utmost significance. Here are the most typical errors to keep away from.

Fast, Rebounded Repetitions

This is the last word calf coaching sin. You may be tempted to make use of the stretch reflex (rebound) and rush via fast-paced reps as a way to raise extra weight or make the set simpler, however this may simply lead to eternally puny calves.

muscular calves doing raisesCredit: Jasminko Ibrakovic / Shutterstock

The train’s vary of movement is comparatively restricted, so in the event you rush via every rep, the time below rigidity can be minuscule, leading to poor progress. This is bolstered by the truth that the calves sometimes have numerous kind I muscle fibers which reply higher to longer units and extra quantity. (1)

Avoid it: For optimum muscle progress, decelerate the repetitions and don’t draw back from utilizing pauses on the prime contraction or within the backside stretched place.

Cutting the Range of Motion Short

Performing a full vary of movement has been confirmed optimum for muscle progress, particularly within the decrease physique. (2) As such, it’s a must to ensure you go as little as your ankles will enable and flex as excessive as you may throughout every repetition.

person doing calf raises in machineCredit: Jasminko Ibrakovic / Shutterstock

Short-changing the vary of movement will be as unhealthy for muscle progress as blasting via repetitions at warp velocity. Calves generally is a notoriously exhausting to develop muscle group. (3) If you need to progress, you’ll have to settle for some muscle-building, muscle-burning discomfort, and make sure you squeeze the muscle via each potential fraction of an inch.

Avoid it: On each single repetition, sink as little as you may within the stretched place. Tension round your ankles will let you know when it’s far sufficient. Also, push via your toes and think about your heels reaching the ceiling in the course of the peak contraction.

Using Leg Drive to Move the Weight

Sometimes you may cheat the standing calf increase with out even noticing, particularly when going heavy. Leg muscle tissues just like the glutes and quadriceps are very robust and your physique will instinctively “want” to make use of them to assist transfer the load, however that reduces the work accomplished by the calves and reduces the muscle-building stimulus.

muscular person doing calf raisesCredit: Jasminko Ibrakovic / Shutterstock

If your knees start bending and straightening in the course of the train, or in case your physique bends ahead on the hips, you’ll be shifting focus away from the calves and onto different muscle teams.

Avoid it: Focus on a mind-muscle connection along with your calves. Instead of simply occupied with “lifting the weight up,” take into consideration particularly pushing via your toes. Keep your physique straight all through the set and pay specific consideration to your knees and hips.

Benefits of the Standing Calf Raise

Even although calf coaching is usually ignored, this train can discover its place in most coaching regimens. Here are a very powerful the explanation why.

Muscle Growth

The standing calf increase is among the greatest decrease leg workout routines for hypertrophy. The standing place is an environment friendly strategy to goal the gastrocnemius — one of many two heads of the calf muscle.

Because of the muscle recruitment and potential time below rigidity, standing calf increase can convey a major visible change to your calf growth. If there’s just one calf train you might do, this is able to be prime of the checklist.

Explosive Power

If you care about athleticism or sports activities efficiency, this standing calf increase truly assist. Calf coaching helps you bounce greater and extra continuously by permitting your physique to supply extra drive, soak up extra drive eccentrically (throughout touchdown), and reinforce tendon energy and total-body stability so you might be extra resilient.

The decrease leg muscle tissues have an energetic half within the ankles and knees features. Every motion that mobilizes these joints — resembling working, kicking, tackling, and leaping — will profit from calf coaching. Strengthening your calves will enable you to be a extra full and environment friendly athlete.

Healthier, Stronger Ankles and Knees

Standing calf raises can ultimately enhance your ankle mobility by steadily stretching your calves. The calves will even improve in dimension and energy, leading to extra management and resilience over the ankle and knee joints. (4)

This carries over to on a regular basis life, since many individuals are on their toes all day lengthy. It’s particularly related in the event you stroll, run, or play sports activities that closely contain your legs.

Muscles Worked By the Standing Calf Raise

The standing calf increase is taken into account a single-joint isolation train, as a result of the one motion ought to be on the ankle joint. The motion focuses coaching stress on a single muscle group — the triceps surae, extra generally often known as the calves, that are the primary muscle tissues within the decrease leg.


The gastrocnemius is one in all two heads of the calf muscle. Sometimes shortened to “the gastroc,” it runs from the again of your knees to your ankles. The gastroc is the bigger of the 2 calf heads and it’s the one you see probably the most.

person flexing muscular calvesCredit: vladee / Shutterstock

Its perform is plantar flexion of the foot (extending the ankle and pointing the toes down). It additionally performs a job to help your hamstrings when bending your knees. This is a muscle closely concerned in working, leaping, and strolling.


The soleus is the opposite head of the calf muscle. This deeper part is positioned between the gastrocnemius and the decrease leg bones. This muscle is considerably concerned in plantar flexion (reducing your toes beneath your heels). The soleus isn’t as large, however it’s comparatively highly effective and it’s essential for working, strolling, and standing tall.

Who Should Do the Standing Calf Raise

Those who fully keep away from calf coaching are sorely mistaken, particularly if they need full bodily growth. Many lifters ought to introduce this train into their coaching as a result of it has extra to supply than simply hypertrophy.

Bodybuilders and Physique Athletes

If you’re concerned with an aesthetic, symmetrical physique, it is best to by no means skip calves. In reality, within the early days of traditional bodybuilding, lifters would goal to have their calves as large as their arms.  The legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger supposedly “calf-shamed” himself by continuously carrying shorts, so the fixed sight of his comparatively small calves could be motivation to coach them intensely.

Many individuals nonetheless overlook calf coaching however, alongside along with your forearms, they’re probably the most seen elements of your physique more often than not. In any case, in the event you’re chasing aesthetics, you can’t keep away from working any physique half.

Strength Athletes

Calf coaching gained’t straight carry to your large lifts, however it will possibly truly be very invaluable to energy athletes. Indeed, the calves assist knee and ankle stability, and that is very true of the soleus as a result of it’s extra energetic when your knees are bent — like within the squat.

Moreover, calf coaching also can enhance ankle mobility, which is vital for correct squat mechanics and total decrease physique well being. If you’re a energy athlete who’s experiencing knee ache, has bother reaching squat depth, or is experiencing instability when lifting, it is best to give calf coaching a go.

Sports Athletes

In athletics, harm prevention is vital. Directly coaching the calves may end up in calf muscle tissues that may face up to extra shock whereas enhancing ankle mobility and resiliency — particularly with respect to the Achilles tendon, a susceptible a part of any athlete’s physique.

Athletes expertise fixed stress on the ankle and knee joints when altering path, sprinting, and performing plyometric actions on or off the sphere. These actions will be among the most doubtlessly harmful actions one can carry out if their physique’s assist buildings aren’t sturdy. As such, in the event you’re an athlete that cares about knee or ankle harm prevention, it is best to practice your calves.

How to Program the Standing Calf Raise

Being an isolation train that targets a single muscle group, it is not sensible attempting to go super-heavy with this train as a result of it’s much less environment friendly and different muscle tissues can be recruited.

Moreover, calves sometimes react higher to an extended time below rigidity and better quantity, as a result of they’ve a excessive proportion of gradual muscle fibers. They are greatest educated with moderate-to-high rep schemes.

Moderate Weight, Moderate Repetitions

This is a traditional, confirmed hypertrophy scheme. Three to 5 units of eight to 12 repetitions will work simply effective. The weight ought to be as heavy as you may deal with to the rep vary, however not on the expense of kind. You ought to be capable of management the load always, obtain a full stretch, and be capable of contract maximally with out compromising the vary of movement.

Light Weight, High Repetitions

Going lighter for greater repetitions is a surefire strategy to scorch your calves you probably have bother feeling them, and may function a fantastic finisher. Two to a few units of 15 to 25 repetitions, reaching muscular failure on the final repetition, is an effective way to build up quantity and develop your calves.

Tempo Work

If you’re a extra seasoned lifter, spicing up your calf coaching can spark new features and motivation. Calves are notably aware of tempo coaching — manipulating the velocity of the lifting and decrease phases of every repetition.

For unprecedented soreness and muscle stimulus, attempt a two-part method with a number of units emphasizing the stretched place adopted by a number of units emphasizing the contracted place. Two to a few units of 10 to fifteen repetitions with a two-second pause on the backside, adopted by two to a few units of 10 to fifteen repetitions with a two-second pause on the prime of the contraction.

Going Beyond Failure

If you’re a sophisticated lifter, you may nonetheless must crank up your calf coaching to the following degree as a way to progress. Warning: The muscle burn can be uncomfortable, however tremendously environment friendly. This method strategically makes use of partial vary of movement repetitions after exhausting the muscle with a full vary of movement, to extend the overall time below rigidity.

Perform one to 2 units of 10 repetitions to failure, adopted instantly by 10 partial repetitions (doing solely the decrease half of the vary of movement), after which maintain the deepest stretch place potential for 10 extra seconds

Standing Calf Raise Variations

Whether you don’t have entry to the standing calf increase machine or simply need to spice issues up, you’re lined. Here are variations that can share the identical advantages.

Smith Machine Standing Calf Raise

The Smith machine is a superb instrument as a result of it takes steadiness out of the equation and, as such, would be the closest variation to the essential standing calf increase machine. Grab a step or brief block and place it straight below the bar, so that you improve the vary of movement and revel in a pleasant stretch.

Set up such as you could be doing a normal calf increase, with the entrance half of your toes on the step, and place the barbell throughout your traps or higher again, much like a again squat place.

Leg Press Calf Raise

This is an superior variation that lets you focus in your calves with much more total-body stability. Not solely is there no stabilization required, however you’re seated in a hard and fast place and solely have to consider utilizing your calves with none higher physique involvement.

Sit within the machine and push the platform away. Position the balls of your toes on the underside of the platform, in order that the decrease half of your toes are hanging. Keep your legs straight and easily push the load away via the balls of your toes.

Single-Leg Standing Calf Raise

By working one leg at a time, we’re making the train more difficult and extra targeted on the working muscle. This variation also can assist to enhance steadiness, core bracing, and may handle muscular imbalances. (5) (6)

Grab a dumbbell and maintain it the identical facet because the leg you may be working. Step onto a platform with solely the ball of your foot and let your different leg cling within the air. Use your free hand to carry an steady, stationary object (like a rack) for steadiness, then brace your core and carry out the calf increase.

Standing Calf Raise Alternatives

If the standing calf increase bores you to tears, or if you wish to stimulate your calves otherwise for a whole lower-leg exercise, attempt these alternate options.

Seated Calf Raise

This machine is among the hottest calf workout routines and it enhances the standing model. Because your legs are bent, you’ll focus extra on the soleus because of the specific attachment factors of the muscle across the knee joint.

An additional advantage is that it’s almost inconceivable to make use of your higher physique, quads, or hips to cheat the motion. You can strictly focus in your calves. This machine works the very same approach because the standing calf increase, however you’re merely seated with the pad on prime of your knees as an alternative of your traps.

Squatting Calf Raise

This motion is good in the event you don’t have entry to specialised coaching gear. Hold a stationary object with each arms and squat right down to parallel, or a bit decrease if snug. Slowly increase your heels as excessive as potential earlier than reducing them right down to the bottom.

Not solely will this train practice your calves, and particularly your soleus, it’ll additionally problem your steadiness, proprioception, and knee and ankle stability in a singular approach. As you progress, you may attempt the train whereas holding a dumbbell or kettlebell like a goblet squat (retaining the load towards your chest).

Tiptoe Farmer’s Walk

If you’re the sort of individual that loves purposeful coaching, give this train a attempt. Simply seize a pair of dumbbells and begin strolling in your toes. Keep your core braced, your shoulders pulled again, and chest up.

Rather than complete repetitions, go for distance, for time, or till your calves surrender on you. This is a unbelievable strategy to finish a exercise and sneak in some additional work on your core, traps, and forearms on the identical time. Bonus: you’ll additionally burn some energy.


Do I must work my calves particularly?

Yes and no. Calves are stimulated not directly by many different workout routines like working, lunges, and squats. So they’re considerably activated as help muscle tissues. But if you wish to give attention to rising the scale of your calves, you’ll have to goal them straight.

Calves are a notoriously exhausting to develop muscle group, and oblique stimulus isn’t usually sufficient to construct spectacular calves. Skipping direct calf coaching additionally means you’re lacking out on the ankle and knee well being advantages that come from stronger calves.

When ought to I practice calves?

Most individuals do calf raises on the finish of a exercise, sometimes after different leg workout routines or different bigger physique elements. It is sensible as a result of calves are educated with single-joint isolation workout routines, and also you need to be as contemporary as potential if you’re hitting your large compound workout routines for different muscle teams.

If you contemplate your calves to be a excessive precedence, you may hit them first in a session. This approach, you’ll have probably the most vitality to dedicate to those cussed beasts, and also you gained’t danger “running out of time” to coach them in a exercise. It shouldn’t influence different decrease physique workout routines an excessive amount of. If it does, it’s a short-term problem till your physique adapts.

How continuously ought to I practice calves?

Calves are a really resilient muscle group they usually can face up to numerous punishment whereas additionally recovering comparatively quick. Start with one weekly session. After just a few weeks, in the event you don’t see any progress and really feel that your calves can face up to it, improve to 2 periods.

Repeat this course of as a lot as wanted. Do not be afraid of coaching them continuously. You can bump this quantity as much as three or 4 periods per week if wanted, as a result of calf coaching is comparatively low stress on the remainder of your physique, not like attempting to deadlift 4 days per week, for instance.

Stop. Skipping. Calves.

The standing calf increase machine is discovered within the nook of most gyms but it surely’s, sadly, underutilized. It’s a time-tested train that packs dimension onto a physique half most lifters would conveniently ignore. Make room for this environment friendly train in your coaching, or simply stroll round in shorts till you’ve satisfied your self to repair the issue.


  1. Edgerton VR, Smith JL, Simpson DR. Muscle fibre kind populations of human leg muscle tissues. Histochem J. 1975 May;7(3):259-66. doi: 10.1007/BF01003594. PMID: 123895.
  2. Schoenfeld BJ, Grgic J. Effects of vary of movement on muscle growth throughout resistance coaching interventions: A scientific overview. SAGE Open Med. 2020 Jan 21;8:2050312120901559. doi: 10.1177/2050312120901559. PMID: 32030125; PMCID: PMC6977096.
  3. Lawrence W. Weiss, Frank C. Clark, David G. Howard, Effects of Heavy-Resistance Triceps Surae Muscle Training on Strength and Muscularity of Men and Women, Physical Therapy, Volume 68, Issue 2, 1 February 1988, Pages 208–213,
  4. Elias, John & Faust, Alfred & Chu, Yung-Hua & Chao, Edmund & Cosgarea, Andrew. (2003). The Soleus Muscle Acts as an Agonist for the Anterior Cruciate Ligament: An in Vitro Experimental Study. The American journal of sports activities drugs. 31. 241-6. 10.1177/03635465030310021401.
  5. Cirer-Sastre R, Beltrán-Garrido JV, Corbi F. Contralateral Effects After Unilateral Strength Training: A Meta-Analysis Comparing Training Loads. J Sports Sci Med. 2017 Jun 1;16(2):180-186. PMID: 28630570; PMCID: PMC5465979.
  6. Bradić, Josipa & Kovačević, Erol & Babajić, Fuad. (2011). Effects of unilateral energy coaching on steadiness efficiency.

Featured Image: Jasminko Ibrakovic / Shutterstock