The Standing Calf Raise is one of the most commonly used exercises for the development of the Gastrocnemius (calf) muscles in most gyms across the world. The Standing Calf Raises is so popular because the exercise is not only easy to do, but it provides great benefit with low risk of injury.
The standing calf raise is one of the most effective calf building exercises in the gym. It is the perfect exercise for not only serious bodybuilders but anyone who is looking to develop picture perfect diamond shape calves.
Standing Calf Raises Overview
- Main Muscle(s) Worked: Calves (Gastrocnemius)
- Other Muscles Worked: None
- Equipment: Calf Raise Machine
- Mechanics Type: Isolation (An exercise that involves one joint movement).
- Force: Push (Movement away from center of body during the concentric contraction of the target muscle. Isolated movements are classified by their compound counterparts.)
- Utility: Basic(A principal exercise that can place greater absolute intensity on muscles exercised relative to auxiliary exercises. Basic exercises tend to be gravity dependent, have an inclusion or shift of resistance through multiple muscle group throughout the range of motion (e.g. bench press: front deltoid to pectoralis major to triceps) and have a natural transfer of torsion force to compression force (e.g., lockout on squat, bench press, etc.) or tension force (e.g. extension of arm curl) to the bone(s) and joint(s) during full range of motion).
Target Muscles Used for Standing Calf Raises
Synergist Muscles Worked When Performing Standing Calf Raises
Stabilizers Worked When Performing Standing Calf Raises
- Trapezius, Upper
- Trapezius, Middle
- Levator Scapulae
Antagonist Stabilizers Worked When Performing Standing Calf Raises
How to Properly Perform Standing Calf Raises
- Stand with your toes on the platform and your heels hanging off the end of platform.
- Put your shoulders under the pads and straighten your legs, lifting the weight clear of the support.
- Keeping your legs straight, while inhaling slowly lower your heels and weight as far as possible, pause and absorb the stretch into the calf.
- Rise up on your toes as far as possible while exhaling, hold the contraction briefly then lower to the starting position.
Caution Needed Performing Standing Calf Raises
If you have any knee, ankle or lower back problems avoid this exercises. If you have an Achilles tendon problem or surgery, check with your doctor first before performing the standing calf raise.
Tips for Performing Standing Calf Raises
- Begin with a light weight to practice good form and control.
- Keep your legs locked. By keeping your legs locked throughout the movement it will keep the emphasis on your calves.
- Use full range of motion. The key to great form is to get a full range of motion and flexing at the at the top of the movement
- Full stretch. A full stretch at the bottom of the movement will stretch the calves and allow more blood to enter and ready them for the lift.
Common Errors While Performing Machine Standing Calf Raises
- Using too much weight. A common mistake many novice lifters is using too much weight and not being able to complete the full range of motion.
- Not keeping your legs lock. Takes the emphasis off the calves.
- Not using full range of motion. The result will be less affective in the development of the calves.
- Performing the movement too fast. Performing the movement too fast doesn’t allow you to fully recruit as many muscle fibers.
Variations of the Standing Calf Raises
Variations are intended to work different subgroups of muscles, or work the same muscles in slightly different ways. There are plenty of variations to this strength exercise. Some other variations of the Standing Calf Raises include:
- Pointing toes out. Same movements as detailed above. Targets the inner calf.
- Heels pointing out. Same movements as detailed above. Targets the outer calf.
- Smith Machine. Add weight and stand on a block high enough to allow full range of motion. Complete with same movement as detailed above.
- Machine Donkey Calf Raise. Adjust weight, stand on platform with hips and back under pad. Complete same movement as detailed above.
Additional Exercises to Compliment the Standing Calf Raise
- Dumbbell Reverse Calf Raise. This is an isolated pull exercise that targets the Tibias Anterior with either Basic or Auxiliary utility.
- Seated Calf Raise. The seated calf raise targets the Soleus muscle of the calf.
- Weighted Single Leg Calf Raise. This is an isolated push exercise that targets Gastrocnemius with either Basic or Auxiliary utility and uses Gluteus Medius and Minimus as stabilizers.
Bottom Line on Standing Calf Raises
By far the Standing Calf Raise is a good leg exercise that comes in many other variations such as weights, cables or even perform at home standing on a block. Don’t neglect the calf workout, because calves are important for number of basic physical requirements, including walking, running, balance and most lower body oriented activities.
About Lynn Glenn
Lynn Glenn is a 62 year old natural athlete from Southern California who started training at the ripe young age of 48. After catching the “bodybuilding bug”, Lynn became interested in living a healthy lifestyle and started writing about hot topics in the areas of health, fitness, weightlifting, and nutrition for MuscleMagFitness.com, and MyBestHealthPortal.com.