What are Standing Calf Raises?

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  • Written By: Matthew F.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 January 2020
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A key part of a productive fitness regimen is getting a total body workout, and this means working every muscle in the body. Besides the glamorous chest, abdominal and bicep muscles, calf muscles in the legs are important to exercise. Among the best calf exercise in any training program are standing calf raises. This exercise can be modified to dumbbell standing calf raises and can offer a strong cardiovascular and strengthening workout for your lower body, including your quadriceps and hamstrings.

Standing calf raises are performed standing straight up with your back, neck and chest erect. Your feet should be about shoulder length apart and flat on the ground, balanced between the balls and heels of your feet. The exercise is performed by pushing your body up only using the balls of your feet and your calf muscles. You should life yourself nearly to a tip-toed position, and then lower yourself again slowly. The exercise can be done in normal set with repetitions like other exercises, with sets of perhaps about 15-25 per set, and rest between each set.


Unlike most other muscles and exercises, standing calf raises should almost always be done until muscle failure. The standing calf raise exercise works a muscle that is worked every single day while walking, and in order to strengthen the muscle, it should be done until the muscle tears, allowing it to grow. The difficulty of the exercise can be increased by adding weights to your upper body, to add weight to the amount that your calves are lifting. This can be done in the form of the dumbbell standing calf raise, with dumbbells in each hand, or with a barbell or weight vest.

The exercise completed by standing calf raises not only works to tone and strengthen the calves, but also stretches them. Because you are extending them to the tip of your toes, beyond the point that your calf is usually stretched during walking, you are lengthening the muscle and using a part that you rarely utilize. This extra stretching is a reason that you calves will likely be sore after the exercise, and an indication of the productivity of your calf workout.

Standing calf raises are essential for strengthening the muscle that is important to leg power, jumping and running speed. The exercise is popular for runners, track and field athletes and basketball players, and helps with overall fitness for other training programs. Variations of standing calf raises can be completed sitting down, with weights on your knees to add the extra dumbbell weight, or on a weight machine, using your calf to push weight cams up to limits heavier than your body.


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