Calf Raises can be done many ways; however, there are a few tips to understand and follow in order to get the most out of the exercise.
- First of all DO NOT BOUNCE! When you bounce or do quick calf raises, the work is being done by your Achilles tendon, not your calf muscles. You may feel a burn in your calf muscle, but it is not being targeted well enough to see results.
- Doing a slow controlled movement from a rest (standing) position to the balls of your feet will activate all of the muscles in your calves.
- If calf raises are done with straight legs, all of the parts of the calf will be working, but most of the work will be done by the very visible, large muscle on the outer part of the calf (Gastrocnemius). This will promote thickness and definition of your calf. If calf raises are done with bent knees, the smaller muscle behind the Gastrocnemius (Soleus) will be doing most of the work. Now although the Soleus muscle is not as visible as the Gastrocnemius, because it is behind the larger muscle, it will cause the Gastrocnemius to swell and visibly pop out more. Both are beneficial so I like to alternate between bent and straight legs between sets.
- Calf raises can be very effective with no weight; however if you are doing weighted calf raises, the same principle applies. Use slow controlled motions rather than a bouncing movement.
- Another possible way to change up the exercise is doing calf raises on a ledge where your heels hang over the edge. When lowering, go past parallel with the floor and stretch your calf muscles more. This will give you a wider range of motion for the muscle; therefore working the muscle in a different, harder way.
The gym I currently go to has a Power Plate. I like to start off my calf routine with 3 sets of slow calf raises on the Power Plate, and then I do 4 sets of weighted calf raises on one of the calf machines. Do what works best for you, but make sure to follow these tips.
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