Weight Lifting Exercise Guides

Calf Exercises

 


Ankle Circles

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: BodyOnly
Mechanics Type: Isolation

Tips: Draw a circle in the air with your big toe.

 


Balance Board

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: Quadriceps,Hamstrings
Equipment: Other
Mechanics Type: Compound

Tips: There are devices designed to train balance boards centered on a pivot that tip easily and the more difficult ones can be useful for improving your balance. To start using the balance board, place the board in front of you while you stand on the board trying to balance. Repeat.

 


Barbell Seated Calf Raise

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: Barbell
Mechanics Type: Isolation

Tips: Place a block about 12 inches in front of a flat bench. Sit on the bench and place the balls of your feet on the block. Place a barbell over your upper thighs about 3 inches above your knees. Raise up on your toes as high as possible and squeeze the calves. Lower down to the starting position and stretch as far as you can. Repeat.

 


Calf Press On The Leg Press Machine

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: Machine
Mechanics Type: Isolation

Tips: While sitting a leg press machine, press the weight rack up as if you were going to do a leg press. Lock your knees and slide your feet down so that only the balls of your feet are on the rack and your heels are hanging off. Push with your toes and point the feet like a ballet stance, pushing the rack along with you. Let the rack come back down bringing the toes closer to your body and repeat. Make sure the handles remain in the locked position. If your feet were to slip off the rack and you don't have the handles locked you can be injured. Don't bounce the rack up and down. Use the muscles slowly with control. You can also focus on the inner or outer calves by pointing your toes in or out instead of keeping them straight.

 


Calf Raise On A Dumbbell

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: Dumbbell
Mechanics Type: Isolation

Tips: When doing one-legged calf raises, stand on a dumbell handle (preferably one with round plates so it rolls). This tendency to roll will make you work to stabilize yourself as you're doing the calf raise, increasing the effectiveness of the exercise.

Be sure to hang onto something solid as you're doing this exercise as you don't want to slip off. The tendency for the dumbell to roll will allow you to roll your foot over the top of the handle, giving you full extension of the calf at the top. As you come up, roll the dumbell slightly backward. Roll it slightly forward as you come down to get a better stretch. You can also do these standing on the actual dumbbell plate, using a large 85 pound dumbbell that is wider.

 


Calf Raises - With Bands

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: Other
Mechanics Type: Isolation

Tips: Stand on a band so that the tension begins with hands by shoulders and standing straight up. (Make sure you are standing on the band with your toes). Keeping hands by your shoulder, stand up on your toes as you would with a barbell calf raise.

 


Donkey Calf Raises

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: Other
Mechanics Type: Isolation

Tips: Many of you may have seen Arnold do this in his hayday, but how many of you actually know that it was called Donkey calf raises or even do them? I'll just give you a quick run through on how to perform them. First, go to a gym with obese people. (lol, alright, I'm joking, but they do accelerate calf development while doing this exercise!) Ok, lean over on a knee height or slightly lower bench/platform, forming an 'L' shape with your torso and lower body. Have a calf raise platform or a thick Olympic weight at the bottom of your feet, tip-toeing on them. Get a few buddies to sit on your back, like they do when horse riding and start repping out some donkey calf raises!

 


Dumbbell Seated One-Leg Calf Raise

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: Dumbbell
Mechanics Type: Isolation

Tips: Place a block on the floor about 12 inches from a flat bench. Sit on the bench and rest a dumbbell on your upper left thigh about 3 inches above your knee. Place the ball of your left foot on the block. Raise your toes up as high as possible. Squeeze your calves, then return to the starting position, stretching as far down as possible. Repeat for your desired number of reps and then switch legs.

 


Knee Circles

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: Hamstrings
Equipment: BodyOnly
Mechanics Type: Compound

Tips: To perform knee circles, stand with your legs at shoulder width apart. Move your knees in a circular motion while staying mobolized. Perform 'circles' with your knees.

 


Rocking Standing Calf Raise

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: Barbell
Mechanics Type: Isolation

Tips: This is a great option to calf training without fancy machines. From a standing squat position with a barbell on your back, perform a standard calf raise, but as you return your feet flat to the ground raise the toes off, hence "rocking back." Now a word of caution to those over-zealous types: perform with caution and get the feel of the exercise as tempo should be slow with total control. Can also be done by holding two dumbbells in your hands.

 


Seated Calf Raise

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: Machine
Mechanics Type: Isolation

Tips: Sit on a calf raise machine. Place your upper thighs under the leg pad just above your knees. Disengage any weight lock that may be in place. Lower your heels to the lowest possible position. Slowly raise up on your toes as high as you can go. Hold for a moment and return to the starting position. Do not "swing" the weight up using momentum! Repeat.

 


Smith Machine Reverse Calf Raises

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: Machine
Mechanics Type: Isolation

Tips: The tables anterior is a muscle that is highly underrated. People focus on developing the gastrocnemius, but the tibialis can make just as much impact on making the calf area bigger. It adds both width to the leg from the front, and thickness from the side. The main way to work the tibialis is by doing reverse calf raises; these are the opposite of normal calf raises; instead of lifting the toes off the ground, you lift the heels. The main problem I find with most reverse calf raises is that when you add resistance it becomes hard to maintain balance, but smith-machine reverse calf raises alleviates this by giving you the support to stand upright. To do smith-machine reverse calf raises, position the bar high enough on the rack so it can lie comfortably on the shoulders. Use a platform to stand on; the same you'd use for normal raises, but instead of keeping your heels on the floor, this time the toes start on the floor with heels elevated onto the platform. Align the platform so it is inline with the bar. If you put it forward/back, it will emphasize higher or lower on the calf. Similarly, the stance you use can affect where it hits; the closer your feet are, the sides will hit isolated, whereas the further apart feet are, the more front tibialis will hit.

 


Standing Barbell Calf Raise

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: Barbell
Mechanics Type: Isolation

Tips: Set a barbell on a power rack and put a block of wood or something similar nearby. Position your back under the barbell with both hands to sides, just like if you were doing squats. Position your toes and balls of feet on the block with arches and heels extending off and resting on the floor. Raise your heels by extending ankles as high as possible. Lower heels by bending your ankles until your calves are stretched. Repeat. Keep your knees straight throughout exercise or bend knees slightly only during stretch. You can also do this with dumbbells in your hands, or in a smith machine.

 


Standing Calf Raises

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: Machine
Mechanics Type: Isolation

Tips: Stand with your toes on the block of a standing-calf-raise machine and your heels hanging off the end of the platform. Hook your shoulders under the pads and straight your legs, lifting the weight clear of the support. Do not hunch, but rather keep your body straight. Keeping your legs straight, lower your heels and the weight as far as possible toward the floor. Rise up on your toes on your toes as far as possible. Hold the contraction briefly, then slower return to the starting position. You can also point your toes in or out to vary the area of emphasis in your calf muscle.

 


Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise

Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Calves
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: Dumbbell
Mechanics Type: Isolation

Tips: Place a wooden block or something similar on the ground that is at least 2 - 3 inches tall. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand. Position your toes and balls of feet on the block with arches and heels extending off and resting on the floor. Raise your heels by extending ankles as high as possible. Lower heels by bending your ankles until your calves are stretched. Repeat. Keep your knees straight throughout exercise or bend knees slightly only during stretch. Can also be done with a barbell on your back instead.

 


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