Standing calf raises require minimal equipment – or none at all – and are perfect for new and seasoned exercisers alike.
This move works your calf muscles and has numerous benefits, including ankle strength and lower-body performance.
How to raise a standing calf
- Stand with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart, and toes facing forward. If necessary, use a wall or the back of a chair for balance.
- Rise up onto the balls of your feet, as high as you can. Give your calf muscles an extra push at the top.
- Pause, then lower your heels in a slow, controlled motion. (When you go too fast, your Achilles tendon works harder than your calf muscles.)
- Repeat as many times as you like, keeping that slow pace.
Want to make it harder?
Marcus suggests this change:
- Do single leg calf raises.
- Hold weights to add resistance.
- Start with the balls of your feet on a raised surface (such as an aerial step).
What muscles do these exercises work?
Calf raises primarily work the gastrocnemius and soleus — the two main calf muscles that connect to the Achilles tendon — explains Jasmine Marcus, PT, DPT, CSCS, a strength and conditioning specialist and physical therapist based in Ithaca, NY.
That’s why Marcus assigns this exercise to almost all of his leg injury patients.
The soleus is more active when your knees are bent, so you may want to do some mobilization Seated calves add variety to your workout to target those muscles.
What are the benefits of a permanent calf raise?
Standing calf raise exercise
- Strengthens your calf muscles
- Improves ankle strength and stability
- Helps prevent injuries
- Improves athletic performance
- Helps with balance
- Produces large calves over time.
When leg day comes around, do you focus mostly on your quads and hamstrings, ignoring your calf muscles?
Calves can be easy to overlook, but there’s a good reason to make them a high priority in your lower-body workout.
“This muscle group is one of the strongest in the body and is responsible for powering you when you walk or run, and when you jump or jump,” says Marcus.
“If done, the calf grows should Grow your calves, if size is what you want,” says Marcus.
But remember, your calves are used to lifting your body weight with every step you take—so if hypertrophy is your goal, be prepared to use a lot of weight (70 to 80 pounds is reasonable, even for beginners), do single-leg calf raises, and /or repeat a lot.