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Exercise Pages


Standing Calf Raises
Home -> Advanced Training -> Exercise Technique -> Standing Calf Raises

Primary Movers:
Gastrocnemius and Soleus

Secondary Movers:

Anatomy of the Calves

Click the Professor to review the anatomy of the Calves.

This exercise primarily works the Gastrocnemius muscle. The Soleus, which lies underneath the Gastrocnemius, does assist somewhat, however.

How to do it:

  • Stand in a Standing Calf Raise machine on the balls of your feet at a comfortable separation with your shoulders under the pads and your toes pointing forward.

  • Start with your heels down as far as possible in a good stretch. Keep your knees straight and stiff but not locked. Rise up onto the balls of your feet and squeeze, moving only at the ankles.
  • If you don't have access to or don't wish to use a calf machine for various reasons, calf raises can be done freestanding on just about anything raised up (e.g. stairs, blocks, books, etc.) or even from the floor.
  • They can be done one leg at a time as well. This is better if you are just starting out with calf work as you will be able to focus on working one leg at a time rather than both.


  • To work the inside of your calves, set your feet farther apart and rise up on the inside balls of your feet.
  • To work the outside, set your feet in close and rise up on the outside.
  • Do not turn your toes in or out as this puts unnatural stress on the knees.
  • Turning your feet in or out is sometimes recommended. Avoid this.

Common Error:

  • Bending and straightening the knees during the raise - this brings the quads and glutes into the movement, reducing the tension on the calves.


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