Calf Raises

  • Alternative Names: Standing calf raises, bodyweight calf raise
  • Type: Strength
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Equipment: None
  • Muscles Targeted: Calves, legs
  • Mechanics: Isolation
  • Average Number of Sets: 2-3 with 10-20 reps each, 45-sec rest after each set
  • Variations: Calf press on leg press machine, calf raises with bands, calf raise on a dumbbell
  • Alternative: Seated, donkey, leg press, dumbbell, Smith machine, barbell, single leg, and reverse calf raises

The calf raises are a type of ankle extension exercises used for working your gastrocnemius, soleus, and tibialis posterior muscles located in the lower leg. One of the best ways to strengthen your lower legs, calf raises should be included in your regular workout routine especially if you are an athlete. By strengthening your calf muscles, you can prevent injuries like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis that may occur while running or playing a sport. You can start with 20-40 calf raises per day and then gradually increase the reps until you do 100 reps a day.

Benefits: What do Calf Raises do

  • It develops your ankle stability and strength.
  • Increases your ability to perform heavier squats, cleans and snatches, push presses and jerks.
  • It helps you in building bigger legs.
  • Calf raise improves the sprinting performance of runners through ankle extensions.
  • Helps you burn 34 calories with a 10-minutes-calf-raises routine.

How to do Calf Raises

Keep a step or calf block on the floor and stand with a shoulder-width stance by positioning the balls of your feet on the block while extending the heels off the edge. Hold something such as a bar or the wall with one hand to keep your balance. By extending your ankles and flexing your calves, gradually lift your heels as high as you can. Pause at this position for 1-2 seconds before lowering your heels back to the initial position.

Standing Calf Raise Tips

  • Keep your back upright and still throughout the movement. Rounding of your back can result in lower back injury.
  • Once you move your heels down to the starting position, immediately perform the next repetition.
  • Make sure to position the balls of your feet on the edge. Do not allow them to come in farther.


  1. Seated Calf Raise: Performed by sitting on the calf raise machine and then lifting your heels off the platform.
  2. Donkey Calf Raises: Involve the same movement as the basic version except you do it by bending over and holding a bench.
  3. Leg Press Calf Raise: Is done by positioning your feet at the base of the platform of a leg press machine.
  4. Dumbbell Calf Raises: Is similar to the standing calf raise, but you hold a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip.
  5. Smith Machine Calf Raise: Involves standing on a weight plate or calf block placed underneath the bar of the Smith machine.
  6. Barbell Calf Raises: Performed by holding a barbell while standing inside a squat rack.
  7. Single Calf Raise: Is done by standing on a step or block with one leg.
  8. Reverse Calf Raises: Instead of your heels, it involves lifting the balls of your feet.

Alternative Exercises

  • Calf Press on Leg Press Machine
  • Calf Raises with Bands
  • Calf Raise on a Dumbbell

Stay Connected

Get access to the latest health and fitness insights, tools and special offers to keep your career moving.