How to do the calf raises exercise and what are its benefits. It’s the best isolation exercise for your calves that you can do, you can perform it in the gym or at home with or without added weight resistance or gym equipment.
Calf raises are great for building muscle and strengthening your calves, particularly the two main muscles which make up your calf, these muscles are the gastrocnemius and the soleus. Calf raises is a very direct exercise, it requires a lot of movement in the ankle which perfectly works the calf muscle.
There are many variations to this exercise, they can be performed with expensive gym equipment or performed on any level surface or on a step at home.
Variations of the calf raise
- Using a calf raise machine
- Both feet together
- Single legged
- Seated calf machine
Performing the calf raise exercise
This can be performed on a flat surface like the floor, however performing the exercises like this will restrict your movement as you will not be able to lower your heel past parallel. Performing calf raises using a stair step or raised platform is much more effective.
How to do calf raises on machine
- Place both of your feet on the raised platform, with just your toes and the balls of your feet placed on the platform, keep your feet and legs straight and parallel.
- Position your shoulders under the shoulder pads and lift using only your legs, keep your back straight as you lift, and then straighten your legs and body.
- Now lower yourself slowly using only your feet and ankles, you should start to feel your calf muscles stretch as you lower, hold for a short moment.
- Now raise yourself up using only your calves, you should feel the muscle when it’s fully contracted, tense your calves and hold for a moment and then lower and repeat.
Single legged version
This is ideal if the double legged version becomes too easy. It’s almost exactly the same as the above version but this time only train one calf muscle at a time.
Just place one foot behind the other just above the ankle and the lower calf area, using only one leg at a time makes a big difference.
The benefits of strengthening your calves
- Easier walking and running
- Better sporting performance
- Better looking legs, look good in shorts
- Improved circulation
- Reduced chance of getting varicose veins