How to Do the Standing Calf Raise

5 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Weight Training

The standing calf raise exercise targets your calf muscles, particularly the larger, outermost muscle that is responsible for the shape and size of your calves.

Performing the standing calf raise

Follow these steps to perform this exercise:

  1. Stand on the edge of a step.

    Or, if you have a step-aerobics platform, place two sets of risers underneath the platform.

  2. Stand tall with your abdominals pulled in, the balls of your feet firmly planted on the step, and your heels hanging over the edge.

    Rest your hands against a wall or a sturdy object for balance.

  3. Raise your heels a few inches above the edge of the step so that you’re on your tiptoes.

  4. Hold the position for a moment, and then lower your heels below the platform, feeling a stretch in your calf muscles.

    The standing calf raise works your calf muscles. [Credit: Photograph by Sunstreak Productions, Inc.]
    Credit: Photograph by Sunstreak Productions, Inc.
    The standing calf raise works your calf muscles.

Tips for doing the standing calf raise

Keep these tips in mind as you perform this exercise:

  • Lift as high as you can onto your toes and lower your heels down as much as your ankle flexibility allows.

  • Push evenly through the entire width of your foot. Don’t push off from your big toe or the outside edge of your feet.

Gym alternative: Toe press on the leg-press machine

Perform a toe press on the leg-press machine at your gym as an alternative to using dumbbells for this exercise. Follow these steps to perform the toe press on the leg-press machine:

  1. Lie on the leg-press machine with your shoulders snugly underneath the pad.

  2. To lift the weight stack, straighten your legs completely, and carefully walk your feet down the foot platform until your heels hang off the end.

  3. Keeping your legs straight, rise up on your tiptoes as high as you can and then lower down until your heels are below the level of the foot plate.

  4. After you complete all the reps, carefully walk your feet back to the center of the foot plate before bending your knees and lowering the weights.

    As an alternative to the standing calf raise, try the toe press on the leg-press machine. [Credit:
    Credit: Photograph by Sunstreak Productions, Inc.
    As an alternative to the standing calf raise, try the toe press on the leg-press machine.
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