Donkey Calf Raises

Exercise Information

  • Alternative Names: Donkey calf raises without a machine
  • Type: Strength
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Equipment: Flat bench
  • Muscles Targeted: Calves, legs
  • Mechanics: Isolation
  • Average Number of Sets: 2, first one of 8 reps at a slow tempo, the second one of 15 reps at a fast tempo
  • Variations: Donkey calf raises with the machine, dip belt, and partner
  • Alternative: Seated and standing calf raises with machine

The donkey calf raise is a classic calf-building exercise popularized by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although he did it by loading one or two gym partners onto his back, here is an easier way of doing this standing calf raise variation. While you perform the basic version by standing straight, the donkey calf raise involves bending over and holding the bench in front of you.

Donkey Calf Raises Exercise Information

  • Alternative Names: Donkey calf raises without a machine
  • Type: Strength
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Equipment: Flat bench
  • Muscles Targeted: Calves, legs
  • Mechanics: Isolation
  • Average Number of Sets: 2, first one of 8 reps at a slow tempo, the second one of 15 reps at a fast tempo
  • Variations: Donkey calf raises with the machine, dip belt, and partner
  • Alternative: Seated and standing calf raises with machine

How to do Donkey Calf Raises

Take a flat or incline bench and place it in front of a step or calf raise block. After positioning the balls of your feet on the block’s edge, bend forward and hold onto a flat or incline bench. Move to the initial position by dropping your heels as far as you can. From this starting position, lift your heels by pushing them as high as you can. Pause for a count of one and squeeze your calf muscles at the top of the movement. Lower the heels slowly back to the initial position.

Tips

  • Make the donkey calf raise more difficult by adding weight around your lower back or buttocks.
  • Slightly bend at your knees to target both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.
  • Control the weight and keep your rep timing slow.  

Variations

  1. Donkey Calf Raises with Dip Belt: It involves having a strapped-on dip belt attached around your lower back for added resistance.
  2. Donkey Calf Raise with Machine: Is similar to the basic version except you do it on a donkey calf raise machine with your hips and lower back placed under the padded lever.
  3. Donkey Calf Raise with Partner: Is performed by having a person sitting on the lower back.

Alternative Exercises

  • Seated Calf Raise with Machine
  • Standing Calf Raise Using Machine

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