What are the Best Calf Exercises?

Felicia Dye
Felicia Dye

The calf muscles are composed of a duo known as the gastrocnemius and soleus. There are numerous calf exercises that have the ability to produce impressive results. One of the things that can help a person to decide which exercises are best is to consider the equipment that she has or that she plans to use. For example, the single-leg calf raise can be done with only body weight. The seated calf press, however, generally requires a sled or lever.

A person with defined calf muscles.
A person with defined calf muscles.

A person does not necessarily need any equipment to do calf exercises. The single-leg calf raise is simple and can be very effective. To perform this exercise, a person stands on only the toes and the ball of the foot. Then, she lifts and lowers herself with that one leg. She usually should not allow her heel to touch the floor.

The two-calf raise can be done in the same way. Using a foot block or some other object to stand on can make the exercise more challenging. In these cases, the toes and the ball of the foot are placed on the object while the arch and heel hang off. The difficulty of these calf exercises can be increased if a dumbbell is held while they are performed.

When a barbell and a power rack are available, a person can do more difficult standing calf exercises. To do so, the barbell should be placed on the rack at a level that meets the bottom of the neck. The person should stand on a foot block and position herself with the barbell behind her. Performing the exercise described above, she should lift the barbell when she rises. When she comes down, the barbell should be lowered.

To perform the seated calf press on a sled, a person should position the seat a sufficient distance away from the front board of the machine. Using the toes and balls of the feet, she should push herself back. Then, she should bend the knees and allow herself to come forward without allowing the arch or heel of the foot to make contact with the front surface.

Substantial results also can be seen when a person performs seated barbell calf exercises. These involve sitting on a flat surface and placing a barbell on top of the thighs, immediately behind the knees. At the start of the exercise, the feet should be flat. Using the toes, the heels should be lifted into the air with the hands used to steady the bar bell. An up and down motion of the feet should ensue.

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    • A person with defined calf muscles.
      A person with defined calf muscles.