How to Do Standing Calf Raises: Tips, Technique, Correct Form, Benefits and Common Mistakes

Standing calf raises help strengthen the lower leg muscles. Photo by Anete Lusina via pexels)
Standing calf raises help strengthen the lower leg muscles. Photo by Anete Lusina via pexels)

Standing calf raises are one of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your calf muscles. This is a beginner-friendly exercise that can be done at home using an exercise mat or at the gym using a calf raise machine.

Standing calf raises activates the two major lower leg muscles, namely the gastrocnemius and soleus. Both these muscles are responsible for ankle extension and flexion and help carry out movements such as jumping, running, etc.

While the gastrocnemius works in coordination with the hamstring muscles and controls knee flexion, the soleus helps pump blood and maintain balance from the leg to the heart. As the calves get strained easily if they're weak, adding a calf raise to your lower body exercise session can make this muscle stronger, more toned and flexible.

How to Do Standing Calf Raise?

When performing this exercise, make sure you focus on the correct form, as speeding through reps and not giving attention to form won’t get you any benefit from this exercise.

Here's how you can do a standing calf raise:

1) Without a Machine

  • Stand tall on a mat, and keep your feet at a shoulder-width level with your toes pointing forward.
  • Make sure to keep your back straight and flat, your abs pulled in and shoulders down and back.
  • Slowly lift your heels while keeping both your knees extended and try to stand on the tips of your toes for as long as you can.
  • Pause, and lower your heels to the mat.
  • Repeat.

2) With a Machine

  • Stand tall opposite the calf raise machine. and set the shoulder pads at your eye level.
  • With your feet at a shoulder-width distance and toes pointing forward, place yourself under the pads.
  • The balls of your feet should be straight on the base with your heels at the edge.
  • Drive through your knees and hips to push the padding up till you can fully stand up straight with an upright spine.
  • Make sure your knees are slightly bent and not locked.
  • Lift your body through your heels and ankles till your calf muscle is extended and contracted. Hold this position for a few seconds, and lower it down slowly to the initial position.

When using a calf machine, start with three sets of ten reps, and rest for 30 seconds in between. You should feel a burn in your muscles but no pain.

Important Tips to Remember

Consider the given tips when performing standing calf raises.

  • If you have weak ankles, they might lead to injuries and create imbalance while doing a calf raise. If that is the case, start with some ankle-strengthening exercises before incorporate calf raises into your workout.
  • When doing this exercise on a machine, make sure not to move your legs throughout. All the focus should only be on moving the calf muscles.
  • You can perform a seated calf raise if you find it difficult to keep your balance while standing. You may also hold on to a wall or chair back to help give you extra support.
  • To target your inner calf muscles more, simply turn your toes slightly inward. To target the outer calves more, turn your toes slightly outward.
  • To increase the range of motion, you can perform a standing calf raise on a stair or step. Just stand with the balls of your feet on the stair; raise your heels up, and lower them down slowly.
  • You can even add weight to your raises by using a dumbbell, barbell or kettlebell. Holding weights at your sides during the exercise can help strengthen your calf muscles, as you will have to push harder to raise the additional weight.

Benefits of Standing Calf Raise

Calf raise is a simple, low-impact exercise that helps build strength in the leg muscles, targeting the soleus and gastrocnemius.

Flexible, strong and toned calves can result in better balance, agility and mobility when jumping and running and also reduces the risk of ankle and foot injury.

This exercise is very effective for improving ankle strength and stability and works on promoting better bodily balance and coordination. If your fitness routine includes several explosive movements, standing calf raise can give you more zest to perform those movements efficiently and safely.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these mistakes when doing standing calf raises to help avoid injury:

Not warming up or stretching

Stretching and warming up play a key role in performing every exercise, as they help prevent exercise-related strains and reduced mobility. Before starting a calf raise, spend at least ten minutes stretching your calf muscles.

Doing the exercise too quickly

Always control the pace of the exercise to avail its full benefits. Performing calf raise movements too quickly isn’t effective, as it can lead to muscle tear and pain.

Bottom Line

Standing calf raise is an easy and safe exercise for all fitness levels. However, if you’ve recently had surgery or injury in your lower body, consult a doctor before performing this workout.

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Edited by Bhargav