How To Do Seated Calf Raise and Its Variations

Try these simple yet effective seated calf raise exercises for strengthening your calf muscles. You can do this calf raises variation with dumbbell, barbell and with machine.

But before starting to implement the calf training routine, let understand a bit about calves muscles, and best seated calf exercises and how to do it properly and correctly to maximize the gain.

Our calves contain two separate muscles: the soleus and gastrocnemius.

The gastrocnemius is the visible muscle of the calf, connecting to the knee and the soleus runs the entire length of the lower leg and lies underneath the gastrocnemius.

What Is a Seated Calf Raise?

A calf raise is an exercise where you lift your heels by pushing through the balls of your feet. And the seated calf raise is a specific variation of this exercise performed sitting down.

The seated calf raise is a heel-raising exercise done while sitting comfortably in a chair. It is of a lesser intensity than its standing variation and requires less balance, stability, and inclusion of the upper body muscles.

Seated calf raise benefits

Your calves help stabilize and strengthen your ankles, allowing your feet to leave and hit the ground properly when you do everything from walk to jump.

  • Some of the benefits of sitting calf raises are increased calf muscle strength and size.
  • With stronger calves, you will become faster and be able to run for longer. Keep a more consistent pace while running
  • Be able to jump higher.
  • Even day-to-day tasks such as walking and climbing stairs become easier
  • The stronger your calf muscles are, the more powerfully you can sprint, and lift—and the less likely you are to get injured

Difference between standing and sitting calf raises?

The main difference between a seated and standing calf raise is that your legs are bent when seated and straight when standing. 

Sitting raises mainly target the soleus, and standing calf raises focus on the gastrocnemius.

The seated calf raise can be performed with dumbbells or a machine. But the common seated calf raise is done using resistance such as weight plates or dumbbells.

5 Best Seated Calf Exercises

Have a look at these 5 Best seated calf raises workouts and training exercises for the best calves around.

1. Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise

If you are looking for a calf raise exercise that you can do at home or gym, then seated calf raises are perfect for training the Soleus Calf muscle.

When performing the seated version of the calf raises, it’s important to get a good stretch on the bottom and squeeze at the top, that way you will hit every muscle fiber available.

Sometimes it’s hard to get a good pump in the calf muscle, so make sure to add enough weight and reps.

Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise
Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise

How To Do Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise

  1. Use a seated calf raise machine or sit on a bench and rest the balls of your feet on a block or plates and hold dumbbells on your thighs for resistance.
  2. Your knees should be bent 90 degrees and your toes pointing straight ahead.
  3. Allow your heels to drift toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your calves.
  4. Now drive the balls of your feet into the platform and raise your heels as high as possible. 
  5. Repeat the desired number of reps.

Tips

  • Move slowly as you stretch your calf muscle.
  • Make sure you hold the stretch for a second at the top, returning to the starting position.
  • Engage your core to keep your torso upright throughout the exercise.

2. Seated Machine Calf Raise

The seated calf raise is a one of the best strength-gaining exercise that targets your calf muscles and accelerates their growth.

It specifically activates and stresses the soleus calf muscle, and so the exercise is best performed by maintaining an angle of 90 degrees at the knees.

In the seated calf raise, your soleus is the target and your gastrocnemius is the synergist.

Seated Calf Raise

How To Do Seated Machine Calf Raise

  1. Sit in the seated calf machine and place your feet on the foot plate so that your heels hang off the edge.
  2. Place the knee pad on your knees and unrack the weight. Drop your heels as low as you can to get a good stretch in your calves.
  3. Lift your heels by contracting the calf muscles to raise the weight as high as you can on the balls of your feet.
  4. Hold this position for a second, flexing your calf muscles, then lower your heels back to the starting position.

Tips

  • Do the reps in a controlled way and limit momentum at the top of the movement.
  • Use the maximum range of motion by allowing your heels to drop as far as possible and then raising them as high as possible.

3. Seated Dumbbell One Leg Calf Raise

The seated dumbbell one-leg calf raise exercise places more stress on the soleus than it does on the gastrocnemius.

It may also be performed with both legs simultaneously, but doing it one leg at a time is recommended to execute it as properly and safely as possible.

If there are size and strength differences between your calves, perform this exercise first on your smaller or weaker calf, and do not perform more reps on your stronger calf. This allows your weaker calf to catch up in strength.

Seated Dumbbell One Leg Calf Raise
Seated Dumbbell One Leg Calf Raise

How To Do Seated Dumbbell One Leg Calf Raise

  1. Sit with the front of your right foot placed on top of a block or step in front of you. Hips and knees should be bent at a ninety-degree angle.
  2. Dip the heel of your right foot as low as it can go.
  3. Hold a dumbbell vertically on top of your right knee. Exhale as you lift your right heel as high as possible, pushing against the dumbbell’s weight.
  4. Keep your right heel lifted for 2 counts. Slowly lower it as you inhale. Repeat the desired number of repetitions.
  5. Repeat the exercise on your left foot.

Tips

  • Move slowly as you stretch your calf muscle.
  • Make sure you hold the stretch for a second at the top, returning to the starting position.
  • Engage your core to keep your torso upright throughout the exercise.

4. Barbell Seated Calf Raise

The barbell seated calf raise is a great variation of the seated calf raise if you have limited equipment (e.g., a home setup). But you can still utilize it as a gym exercise as well.

This is a very useful exercise if you don’t have access to a seated calf raise machine.

Barbell Seated Calf Raise

How To Do Barbell Seated Calf Raise

  1. Sit on the end of a bench, chair, and place the barbell on the end of your thighs near your knee but not on your knee.
  2. Sit up straight and place the top half of your feet or balls of your feet on the floor or elevated object so that your heels are hanging off. 
  3. Lift your heels by contracting the calf muscles to raise the weight as high as you can on the balls of your feet.
  4. Hold this position for a second, flexing your calf muscles, then lower your heels back to the starting position.

Tips

  • Have a firm grip on the barbell to keep in it in one place.
  • Perform the reps nice and slow using a full range of motion.

5. Smith Seated Calf Raise

Smith Seated Calf Raise exercise is a great alternative to the seated calf raise machine.

It is usually performed for moderate to high reps, such as 8-12 reps per set or more, as part of the lower-body portion of a workout.

Smith Seated Calf Raise

How To Do Smith Calf Raise

  1. Set up for the smith machine seated calf raise by placing a flat bench in the smith machine and putting a step or placing a foot flat on the floor.
  2. Sit on the end of the bench and the ball of your one-foot on the floor. Take the bar off the rack and rest it on your right thigh.
  3. Lift your heel of the right foot by contracting the calf muscles to raise the weight as high as you can on the balls of your feet.
  4. Hold this position for a second, flexing your calf muscles, then lower your heels back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for desired reps.

Tips

  • Keep the rep timing slow and controlled, lowering the weight slowly.

Seated Calf Raise Alternatives

Of course, you don’t have to do seated calf raises in every workout. There are some other great exercises you can do to hit your lower legs from additional angles and target different calf muscles.

1. Standing Calf Raise

Calf exercises are performed to build 2 basic calf muscles, soleus and gastrocnemius.

If there is only one exercise you want to do for calves, then it should be calf raises. It is the overall Calf muscle builder.

Standing calf raise targets the whole gastrocnemius muscle.

A wide stance tends to emphasize the inner (medial) head, whereas a narrow stance targets the outer (lateral) head.

Standing Calf Raise
Standing Calf Raise

2. Donkey Calf Raise

Donkey Calf Raise is one of the best calf exercises to build calf muscles. This raise is mostly the second option after standing calf raises.

The donkey calf raise primarily target both muscles that make up the calves: the gastrocnemius and the soleus.

The donkey calf raises secondarily activates the hamstrings and abs. When you bend over to initiate the calf raise, the hamstrings receive a stretch. Add this exercise as a variation to your calf workouts.

Donkey Calf Raises
Donkey Calf Raises

3. Smith Machine Standing Calf Raise

The Smith machine standing calf raise is a machine-based exercise targeting the muscles of the calves, particularly the gastrocnemius or upper calf muscle.

It is usually performed for moderate to high reps, such as 12-20 reps per set or more, as part of the lower body portion of a workout.

Smith Machine Standing Calf Raise

Takeaways

The seated calf raise is a great way to increase strengthen the calves muscles and improve your performance in and outside the gym.

The seated calf raise can also be combined with other calf exercises for strong and chiseled legs. 

People also ask

Seated calf raise vs standing Calf Raise

The main difference between seated and standing calf raises is that when you are doing them standing, with a straight knee, you are targeting the gastrocnemius, whereas seated calf raises target the soleus.

How many calf raises should I do to gain muscle?

Though the number of reps and sets may vary depending on your fitness experience, a good starting point is 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps.

References

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