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Standing Calf Raises - Exercise for the Calf Muscles



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Standing Calf Raises

Home -> Exercises -> Standing Calf Raises

Primary Muscles Worked: Description:
Gastrocnemius Part of the calf muscle group, this one is most active when the knee is straight.
Soleus Part of the calf muscle group, this one is most active when the knee is bent and is located underneath the gastroc.


The Standing Calf Raise exercise works the calf muscles in the lower legs. It can be done in a Standing Calf Raise Machine or freestanding without any machine at all using just bodyweight. It can also be done using dumbells held in your hands or with a barbell on your back.

How to Do Standing Calf Raises:

  • Stand on the foot block of a Standing Calf Raise machine on the balls of your feet and duck under the shoulder pads. You should have a comfortable separation between your feet and your toes should be pointing forward.

  • Start with your heels down as far as possible in a good stretch. Keep your knees straight and stiff but not locked. Rise up onto the balls of your feet and squeeze, moving only at the ankles.
Bottom Position of the Standing Calf Raise Top Position of the Standing Calf Raise
  • If you don't have access to or don't wish to use a calf machine for various reasons, calf raises can be done freestanding on just about anything raised up (e.g. stairs, blocks, books, etc.) or even from the floor.

  • They can be done one leg at a time as well. This is a more advanced variation for those who have built up some strength in the calves.

Tricks for Performing Standing Calf Raises:

  • To work the inside of your calves, set your feet farther apart and rise up onto the inside balls of your feet.
  • To work the outside, set your feet in close and rise up on the outside balls of your feet.
  • Do not turn your toes in or out as this puts an unnatural stress on the knees.
  • Turning your feet in or out is sometimes recommended by trainers in order to work the inner or outer calves. Avoid this.

Common Errors in the Standing Calf Raise Exercise:

  • Bending and straightening the knees during the raise - this brings the quads and glutes into the movement, reducing the tension on the calves.
  • Always keep your knees stiff but not locked in order to best isolate the calf muscles and minimize the involvement of other muscles.



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