Muscles Used • Exercise Type • Form Instruction • Tips and Techniques • Recommended Reps • Common Variations • Substitutions • Equipment Needed
See all the exercises at the:
Weight Training Exercises Database
– Standing Barbell Calf Raises –
Isolated Exercise, Push Movement
Standing, barbell positioned on the deltoids or traps, raise heel by extending ankle as high as possible and then lower back down.
Tips and Techniques:
Using a calf block allows for a greater range of motion and stretch. The balls of the feet should rest comfortably on the block with the arch and heel extending off. Get as big of a stretch as you can at the top and go down to a comfortable stretch at the bottom of the exercise.
It can still be an effective exercise without using a calf block. The placement of the barbell is the same as it is for Squats. If you are experiencing discomfort with the barbell, check the Squats page for some tips.
Knees should have a slight bend in them. A common mistake is keeping them locked and straight. When the knees are slightly bent, more of the stress is placed on the calves and less on the knee joint. But, be careful not to let the knee become involved in the exercise. The slight bend should stay a slight bend throughout the exercise (don’t flex at the knee, keep it still).
Feet should be shoulder-width apart or narrower. Pointing the toes slightly outward can place more emphasis on the inner calves while pointing them slightly in can put more emphasis on the outer. For the most part, keeping the toes pointed straight forward (hitting all parts equally) is the way you want to go.
Standing Calf Raises hit the entire calf but emphasize the gastrocnemius muscle (the outwardly visible portion) over the soleus muscle (more interior placement within the calf).
While most exercises are best done with free weights, Standing Calf Raises are one where the free weight advantages aren’t that great. It can be tough balancing when getting a full stretch (using a block) and therefore most trainers go for the machine-based version of the exercise.
Recommended Reps For Muscle Building:
6-12 the majority of the time, trying higher or lower reps on occasion.
- One-Leg Calf Raises – As it sounds, using just one leg at a time (usually with a machine or a dumbbell providing the resistance).
- Dumbbell Calf Raises – Using dumbbells to the side for resistance
- Seated Calf Raises
- Donkey Calf Raises
- Leg-Press Calf Presses
- More Machine-Based Calf Raises – In addition to the typical sled-based Calf Raises, cable, Smith and lever machines off ways to do them.
There aren’t a lot of practical alternatives for the Standing Calf Raise. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to do them. You need to find one and do it if calf development is on your “to do” list. Donkey Calf Raises and Leg Press Calf Presses can be alternatives but both also come with an increase in the pain-in-the-ass factor.
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