Top 5 Calf Muscle Exercises

Top 5 Calf Muscle Exercises to Achieve Impressive Calves

man performing calf exercise

Every solid weight training program targets the legs, yet people often overlook the calves. If you desire to build impressive calves, then this article is definitely for you. The calf muscles are important for activities like running and jumping, as well as making your legs look their overall best. For truly impressive calves, incorporate two or three of the top 5 calf exercises here into each legs workout.

Anatomy – Before you jump gung ho into the exercises, you should know that there are two important calf muscles.

The gastrocnemius is the muscle you can see on your lower leg. It assists in knee flexion and performs plantar flexion, which is when you bend your ankle forward.

The second muscle, the soleus, lies underneath the gastrocnemius. It also plantar flexes the ankle, but works mainly when you are seated.

Now that you know the basic anatomy of the calf muscles, let’s move onto the calf muscle exercises.

Top 5 Calf Muscle Exercises

1.)  Smith Machine Calf Raises

Smith machine calf raises are one of the top 5 calf exercises because you can max out on weight and get a larger range of motion than on calf raise machines.

Starting position: Position an aerobic step below the bar and stand with your heels off the edge. Rest the bar across your shoulders.

Action: Lift up onto the balls of your feet and exhale. Slowly lower your heels back down to hang over the edge.

2.)  Calf Presses on a Leg Press Machine

Calf presses are a great exercise because you can lift heavy weights using a different angle than standing calf exercises.

Starting position: Sit on a leg press machine and place your feet shoulder-width apart on the platform with your heels off the bottom edge, legs straight.

Action: Point your feet as you press the platform away from you and exhale. Return to the starting position slowly.

3.)  Single Leg Standing Calf Raises

Single leg standing calf raises are effective because they ensure that each leg lifts equal weight.

Starting position: Stand with your hands against a wall for balance. Bend your right knee so all your weight is on your left leg.

Action: Exhale and lift onto the ball of your left foot. Lower slowly. Repeat on the other side.

4.)  Seated Machine Calf Raises

Seated machine calf raises have plenty of weight to fatigue your soleus muscles.

Starting position: Sit on the machine with your thighs against the pad and the balls of your feet on the platform.

Action: Exhale and press down through the balls of your feet as you lift your heels and the bar. Lower your heels to the floor.

5.)  Seated Free Weight Calf Raises

Seated free weight calf raises are an excellent alternative exercise you can do at home without a machine.

Starting position: Sit with your feet shoulder-width apart on the floor and your knees at 90 degree angles. Hold a weighted plate on each thigh.

Action: Lift onto the balls of your feet as you exhale and then lower your heels back to the floor.

Final Thoughts

Incorporating the top 5 calf exercises into your workout routine not only makes your legs look better,  but other legs exercises, such as lunges and step ups, should feel easier too.

Author Profile: Sarka-Jonae Miller

Sarka-Jonae Miller is a personal trainer, massage therapist, and the author of the novel "Between Boyfriends." Sarka writes articles on health, fitness, wellness, travel, weight loss, and more.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.
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