Top 5: Calf Exercises

The Red-Headed Step Child of Leg Day

There’s plenty of different ways to target your calf muscles in the gym and though lots of us like to pretend they don’t exist, they do!

Here’s our top 5 calf exercises modelled beautifully by Shea!

Standing Bodyweight Calf Raises

The simplest exercise is often the most effective and it doesn’t get much simpler than a standing bodyweight calf raise.

You can use a block, plate or any raised surface to complete these. Once you have completed a few sets switch to single leg raises to challenge yourself further.

Coaching Points

  • Ensure you have enough room to extend fully up and down without touching the floor
  • Pause at the top of each rep and feel the contraction
  • Progress to single leg raises whenever you are ready

Standing Weighted Calf Raises

A straight forward progression from bodyweight raises. There are lots of ways you can add weight however we prefer to using a belt to attach a kettle bell. This leaves your hands free to aid balance is needed.

Coaching Points

  • Ensure you have enough room to extend fully up and down without touching the floor
  • Pause at the top of each rep and feel the contraction
  • Experiment with different methods of adding weight
  • Progress to single leg raises whenever you are ready

Standing Barbell Calf Raises

If you are looking to add serious weight to your calf raises, the barbell raise is your best bet.

Shea is demonstrating it with a block to to add extra extension however if balance is an issue you can complete the exercise without the added height to gain confidence.

Coaching Points

  • Position the barbell as you would for a backsquat
  • Pause at the top of each rep and feel the contraction
  • If balance is an issue you can lean forward into the rack to support you and the barbell

Leg Press Calf Raise

Another brilliant way to add weight when training your calves is the leg press. By positioning your feet at the bottom of the foot pad you can push whilst isolating your calf muscles.

Coaching Points

  • Ensure you do not lock out your knees and risk hyper extending
  • Pause at the top of each rep and feel the contraction
  • If you want to keep the weight moderate, single leg is an excellent alternative

Seated Barbell Calf Raises

A rarely used but effective means of targeting  your calves. Try a few sets with no weight to get used to balancing the barbell and then starting loading the plates on!

You can either begin with your feet flat on the floor or use a block or plate to add a greater range of movement and extension.

Coaching Points

  • If the barbell is uncomfortable on your thighs, use the hip thrust pad
  • Pause at the top of each rep and feel the contraction
  • Use your hands to guide the barbell and aid balance

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