Main Muscle Worked: Calves
What are Calf Raises?
The calf raise or also know as standing calf raises is an excellent place to start doing legs. It’s an easy exercise you can do anywhere – you can knock out a set while brushing your teeth or waiting for the kettle to boil, you can also perform them on the calf raise machine in the gym – and strong calves are essential to strong running.
You can show off your strong, well-developed quads and hamstrings all you want, but weak calves mean shorter jumps, slower sprints, less stability in your squats and deadlifts, and a higher risk of knee injuries in a whole range of sports.
The main reason is neglect, as many people believe that calf exercises are unnecessary if you’re squatting and deadlifting regularly which is definitely not the case as calves need just as good a workout as every other part of the body.
Muscles Worked in Calf Raises
Benefits of Calf Raises
Ankle Strength and Stability
Ankle stability can be affected by numerous factors. One of those is the strength of the calf muscles, which are responsible for plantar-flexion of the ankle joint. Increasing the ability to perform ankle plantar-flexion can have a help to support the ankle under loads, running, and other expose movement.
Weak ankles and calves can create stability deficiencies during running, standing, jumping, and even squatting. By addressing ankle instability and increasing the strength in the calves by performing exercises such as the standing calf raise you can provide yourself with the ability to increase performance in athletic, explosive, strength-based movements.
Sprinting and Running Performance
The calves also add some muscular output and a quick burst of speed. When running, the muscles in our calves can absorb some of the impact forces and also help to create ground reaction force by forceful plantar-flexion.
Easy to perform
The standing calf raise can be performed just about anywhere. You can practice it at work, washing dishes or even while brushing your teeth. You simply position your feet underneath your hips and then raise your heels to shift your weight onto your toes. Once your strength improves, you can do the calf raise on a step with your heels hanging off the edge or alternatively you can perform it on a calf raise machine, this increases the ankles range of motion as you can lower the heels beyond the parallel line made by the floor.
How to do Calf Raises
- 1. Step into provided shoulder pads on the calf raise machine. Adjust lever arm so that plates do not touch when lowering the weight.
- 2. Stand with feet hip width apart or stand on the edge of a step on the balls of feet with heels hanging over edge. Toes should be pointing forward.
- 3. Contract calves by pushing off balls of feet to raise heels up in air (standing on toes)
- 4. Lower heels and repeat for desired reps.
Remember to keep knees slightly bent throughout movement to prevent any knee strain. Adjust weight load accordingly.
Mistakes commonly made in the Calf Raise
It is important that when performing the calf raise that you should keep your back straight and brace your abs throughout the exercise instead of performing with a rounded back and careless abs as this can injure you.
Safety when performing Calf Raises
If you have a back or calf injury, You should talk to your doctor or physical therapist to find out whether this exercise is appropriate. It is possible to injure your calves when doing this exercise, especially if you are using heavy weights or bad technique. If you feel any pain during the exercise, slowly lower the weights and end the exercise. Only use a weight you can press with good form for 10 reps.
Variations of Calf Raises
Dumbbell Calf Raise
- 1. Stand upright holding two dumbbells by your sides.
- 2. Place the balls of your feet on an exercise step or weight plate with your heels touching the floor.
- 3. With your toes pointing forwards, raise your heels off the floor and contract your calves.
- 4. Slowly return to the starting position.
Repeat for desired reps.
Barbell Calf Raise
- 1. Start of by placing a block or two free weight plates on the floor, then placing a weighted barbell across your back and step up so that the balls of your feet are on the block.
- 2. Slowly lift your heels up off of the floor and then lower them back so that you feel as much of a stretch as possible in your calf muscles.
- 3. Return to the starting position.
Repeat for desired reps.
Write below in the comments your opinion on the calf raise, if it works for you and any questions you might have.