Calf Raises Exercise for Bigger, Muscular Calf Muscles

Do you want to build a perfectly symmetrical physique with perfect upper and lower body balance? Then build thick, muscular, sexy calf muscles with calf raises and donkey calf raises exercises.

Thick, Muscular Calf Muscles look great on the beach or stage!

Guess what are one of the first muscles to be noticed on a beach or on stage for perfect symmetry if you are a competitive bodybuilder? The Calf muscles

But most bodybuilders skip them or train them insufficiently and don’t give the calf muscle the attention they deserve.

Don’t be one of them. Lets find the best exercises to train your calves for girth and mass.

In This Article:

Do Bodybuilders need Calf Muscle Training?

Beach or stage, Calf Muscles are not missed!

Apart from eye popping reactions from onlookers, calf muscle health is important. They are called Peripheral Heart because they help pump blood back to the heart.

But as mentioned earlier, most muscle builders do not give calf muscles the time they deserve.

Calf muscles need heavy stimulation. They work all day long isotonically {walking, running} and isometrically {standing}, so low or even moderately heavy weights do not work them at all.

Therefore you need to do them with heavy weights and at least 2-4 weeks every training cycle, prioritise them by training first thing you enter the gym.

Calf Raises for Bigger, thicker stronger calf muscles

Calf Raises are the king of calf exercises and you have three variations to choose from:

  • Standing calf raises
  • Seated Calf Raises and
  • Donkey Calf Raises

Standing and donkey calf raises work the gastrocnemius muscle which has 60% fast twitch muscle fibers.

Seated calf raises work the soleus muscle which is made of 88% slow twitch muscle fibers.

How to Do Calf Raises Exercise Properly

I will give you the technique for standing calf raises. For seated and donkey raises, only the position changes but the technique remains the same.

Calf Raises Exercise Technique

Squat Rack or Calf Machine: The best way is to do calf raises in a squat rack or a calf raise machine as you will be handling very heavy weights and cleaning them from the floor is a bad idea.

If you are using squat rack, you can place your toes on a block of big plates if block is not available.

Posture, Foot Placement and Stance:

Stand on the block of a standing calf machine with your feet close together {9-15 inches apart} with the pads resting on your shoulder.

Ideally keep the front 1/3rd of your feet on the block with your heels extended out into space. Keep your knees locked at all times. And lower your heels as low as possible.

Step One: The Calf Raise

Keeping your knees locked, heels as low as possible for maximum stretch, raise yourself using by pressing your toes into the floor to reach the top position.

Going full range is the key and this might mean lowering your weights as calf muscles are strongest in mid-range but weak at the extremes due to the way we use them everyday.

Pause at the top for 1 second and those slow growing calves will be history!

Step Two: The Calf Pull

Here is the interesting part which makes calf muscles work more.

Lower the weight by actively pulling your heels down. Don’t just lower the weights but pull them down.

Get a good stretch at the bottom. This is important. For better calf training, you need to get strong at the extreme range of motions.

Calf Raises Variations

Seated Calf Raises

Apply the same technique but work for higher reps because seated version targets soleus more. Go full range for best stimulation.

Donkey calf raises

This exercise creates even more tension on calf muscles {gastrocnemius} than standing.

Here’s why:

The hamstring muscles travels under the heads of gastrocnemius muscles before being inserted. in donkey raises, you bend at your hips and stimulate the hammies more.

This creates more tension in the calf muscles too due to close insertion of hamstrings. Calf muscles get tighter, and work better during donkey calf raises.

Reps, Sets and Frequency of Calf Training

Reps: 6 to 15

Sets: 3 to 4

Frequency: Twice a week as calf muscles recover quickly.

Work both low reps and high reps as calf muscles comprise of a mix of slow twitch and fast twitch fibers.

Seated Raises works the soleus. Soleus is made of 88% slow twitch fibers which respond best to higher reps 0f 12-15 reps per set.

Standing and Donkey versions work the gastrocnemius: Gastrocnemius is made of 60% fast twitch fibers which respond best to low reps of 6 - 9.

Work both the rep ranges for complete calf muscle development.

Try the NNMB Muscle Building Program for bigger Arms, legs and shoulders.

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