The calf raise is an exercise that can be done primarily in 2 distinct ways. The very first targets the soleus and it is completed with the knee flexed/bent. The other targets the gastrocnemius and it is completed with an extended knee. Both muscles (soleus and gastrocnemius) contribute to ankle plantarflexion, that is a key joint action for human locomotion, force production, stability, balance, and explosive movements.

In this short article we will discuss:

  • Two Kinds of Calf Raises
  • Benefits of Calf Raises
  • Are Calf Raises Worth It?

Seated Calf Raise

The seated calf raise can be done utilizing a machine or setup manually while seated. The important thing to remember here is that since the knee is bent (knee flexion) the soleus is primarily targeted because of the muscle insertions and attachments occurring underneath the knee. Here is a video of how to perform the seated calf raise.

Standing Calf Raise

The standing calf raise can be done utilizing a machine, standing having a barbell on the back, or holding a pair of weights towards the sides. Since the athlete is standing, your legs are extended (not locked out) which targets primarily the gastrocnemius due the the muscles crossing the rear of the knee and attaching both above and underneath the joint. Here is a video of how to do the standing calf raise.

5 Benefits of Calf Raises

In an earlier article we discussed the main benefits of performing calf raises inside a strength, power, and fitness regiment. While some of those may affect some athletes more than others, it can be generally asserted all lifters and athletes can usually benefit from enhancing the below physical attributes via calf training.

Ankle Stability

Ankle stabilization is essential for weightlifting, powerlifting, functional fitness, and general health and wellness programs. Stable ankles can help to anchor the lifters securely towards the floor to allow the above mentioned joints (knees and hips) adequate stability to advertise force and withstand high amounts of loading.

Explosiveness and Power

The gastrocnemius is primarily made up of fast twitch muscle tissue, which implies they have higher rates of force production and power output than slow twitch fibers. This has often linked calf training and gratifaction to increased power output and explosiveness in sprinting, jumping, and other movements that need rapid ankle plantarflexion.

Injury Resilience

Stronger muscles will assist you to absorb force and loading that might be placed on other tissues and structures (bones, tendons, etc). Many people are affected from achilles tendon injuries or calf strains due to insufficient properly developing muscle coordination and eccentric strength to assistance with force absorption during higher impact areas.

In addition, collapsing ankles and poor stability at the ankle joint (because of lack of plantarflexion, etc) can result in stability issues at the knee and hip, which over time could cause overuse injury.

Stronger Squats and Deadlifts

The calves actively stabilize the ankle and supply additional downwards force application into the floor during squats and pulls (in addition to plyometrics and Olympic lifts). Ankle plantarflexion is part of \”triple extension\” which refers back to the ankles, knees, and hips all entering extension together. It is with these joint actions that most athletic, strength, and power movements occur.

Run Faster and Jump Higher

As briefly discussed above, ?stronger and more explosive calves assist in running economy, speed, and jump performance. They can also guide in force absorption and stabilization for that ankle, knee, and hip joints.

Should You Do Calf Raises?

Despite what many might think about calf training, it may actually be a valuable accessory and/or corrective exercise to incorporate in most power, strength, and fitness programs.

The first step is to determine if it comes with an immediate requirement for calf training, such as; (1) recovery from ankle injury, (2) lack of ankle stability and plantar flexion, or (3) general have to increase injury resilience from higher impact exercise like jump ropes, double unders, and running.

If you\’ll still are unsure if you want to perform calf raises, you can simply mix calf raises to your training either after sets of squats, during deadlifts (weightlifters really do them inadvertently during neat and snatch pulls), or just with the addition of jump ropes into warm up routines.

At the end of the day, the calves really are a muscle group that will get trained a great deal during most strength, power, and fitness programs. Similar to the forearms during most gripping movements, the calves can sometimes hold a lifters performance back regardless of the abilities of a bigger group of muscles (lack of full ankle plantarflexion in snatches and cleans, loss of balance towards the bottom from the squat, ankle stress, etc). If this is the situation, coaches and athletes can experiment with the addition of both seated and standing calf raises into current training programs and monitor the final results.

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