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The calves usually aren’t the first muscle area you think about for lower body workouts, but there are many benefits to make learning how to calf raise worthwhile. Calf raises aren’t the only exercise that can be done to strengthen this smaller muscle group, but as far as I’m concerned they really are all you need. Calf raises are great because you don’t need any equipment at all to do them, and if you do want equipment to add an extra challenge, then all you’d need is a step, a low table, a chair, or a stool! Continue reading to understand how to calf raise for great results.
- More Muscle Mass. This may not be the most important benefit, but it is the most noticeable. Many people do not have naturally sculpted or massive calf muscles, but doing calf raises definitely helps change that.
- Better Ankle Flexibility. Ever see a ballerina and wonder how she can do that? Well, a lot of ballet requires calf raises (among other things). Doing calf raises regularly makes your ankles more flexible, and this flexibility means less risk of injury.
- Better Balance. The more calf raises you do, the better your balance becomes. At first, you may need a wall or railing to hold onto, but eventually you won’t!
- Stronger Legs Overall. It may not seem like it, but exercises like squats and lunges require a good deal of calf strength, even though they aren’t the targeted muscle group for those types of moves. Calf raises increase the necessary stability for other lower body moves that target bigger muscle groups.
How to Calf Raise
Again, this is an extremely simple exercise with lots of potential for variation. You may need a wall or something stable to hold onto to keep your balance! You can also just keep your hands at the ready and only touch the wall when you feel your balance failing.
Without an Elevated Platform:
A. Stand shoulder-width apart with feet planted firmly on the floor.
B. Slowly lift your heels, engaging the calf muscles as you do so, and stand only the tips on your toes.
C. Hold this position for one or two seconds.
D. Slowly lower your heels back to the ground to their original position.
E. My recommendation is to do as many calf raises you can until failure, but other people may have different suggestions.
F. *BONUS* – Only do one calf muscle at a time. Keep one foot firmly planted on the floor, and do the calf raise with the other. This adds a bit more weight resistance for each calf.
With an Elevated Platform:
Everything should be essentially the same as above, except the first step (A):
Place your toes on the higher platform, with your heels lowered. Depending on the height of your platform, your heels may be touching or resting on the floor. I prefer this method of calf raises over the floor raises because it allows much more range of motion, and thus more benefits.
Calves the Size of a Baby Cow
Simple yet effective, it is easy to learn how to calf raise and once you do it regularly, you will see amazing results. Don’t be surprised if you feel a lot of soreness the first time you do them, since this is a muscle that is often ignored during workouts. To change things up, you can angle your heels inwards or outwards to focus on either side of your calf muscle. I hope this post is helpful for anyone who was unfamiliar with how to calf raise–it is an extremely beneficial move that can be done anywhere! And remember to stretch!
When do you like to calf raise? While waiting at the checkout line? During long phone meetings? Leave a comment below! For additional lower body workouts, check out my guide to leg workouts without equipment.