Calf exercises are to build size on the calves. The calves are used to carrying you for miles and miles, so they take a while to fatigue, and we can program them for higher repetitions.
Calf Raise 101
Calf Raise — Setup
1. Exercise selection
Choose your variation and ensure there is enough clearance for you to be able to move through the entire range of motion.
- Calf Machine
- Stair Calves
- Leg Press Calves
- Smith Machine Calves
Calf Raise — Execution
1. Concentric portion
Press the weight away as your ankle goes into plantar flexion.
- Exhale with plantar flexion
2. Isometric portion
Hold at the top of the movement for a split second.
3. Eccentric portion
Let the weight down slowly as your ankle enters dorsiflexion.
- Inhale with dorsiflexion
Calf Raise — Coaching Cues
- Don’t bounce the reps.
- Pause at top and pause at bottom to prevent bounce
- You’re stronger at this than you think
- This is one of the few exercises I advocate starting heavier than you initially think appropriate.
- Execute full range of motion.
- There is no benefit to shortened ranges of motion, unless you are already doing another variation of a movement at full ROM and are using a partial range to strengthen a weak spot. This is what bodybuilders do. Not you.
Calf Raise — Adjustments
Lighter weight will alleviate most issues.
If you roll your ankle running or playing drunken chicken with shopping carts in a parking lot, this is a great exercise to restore range of motion and to help keep blood flow to the area constant.
Abstain from calf raises if the pain is unbearable, as they are an ancillary exercise.
Point your toes in different directions to hit the muscle differently. Try duck footed, pigeon footed, and parallel stances
Calf cramps are common on these, so be prepared for that potentiality.
Caveat: This exercise guidance should never usurp the advice of your medical professional. If there is a question in your mind as to the suitability of this exercise for you confer with your doctor. WATM is not liable if you do something ill-advised after reading any of our fitness content.