How to Do Seated Calf Raises

As easy as it may look, the seated calf raise is no joke.

This move strengthens the muscles that not only make you a better runner, but also support basic functions like walking and taking the stairs.

“Our calves are one of the constantly active muscles for movement and balance,” says exercise physiologist John Ford, ACSM.

Translation: Strong calves lead to a stronger, more efficient body.

You don’t even need a seated calf raise machine to do the exercise. It’s easy to do calf raises with dumbbells, a barbell and resistance bands, or even household items like gallon jugs, or books.

Here’s all you need to know about doing the seated calf raise.


Benefits of Seated Calf Raises

“The stronger and more conditioned your calves are,” Ford says, “the more efficient you will be at other exercises, including running, jumping, and biking.”


What Muscles Do Seated Calf Raises Work?

Seated calf raises target the calf muscles—the soleus and the gastrocnemius—with more focus on the soleus.



How to Do Seated Calf Raises

  • Sit tall on a bench or chair with your feet flat on the ground, holding two heavy dumbbells on top of your knees.
  • Keeping your core engaged, lift your heels off the ground as high as possible.
  • Slowly lower your heels back down to the ground and repeat.

How to Make Seated Calf Raises Easier

Perform the exercise with less weight, or use a resistance band.

Ford suggests:

  • Put the band across the top of your legs with the ends secured under your toes.
  • Place your hands over the band to make sure it stays in place while you do the exercise.

This is a great option for doing the seated calf raise at home.

How to Make Seated Calf Raises Harder

To give your muscles more work, simply add more weight.

You can also elevate the balls of your feet with a block to increase your range of motion.

Variations on Seated Calf Raises

While seated, you can point your toes in or out to target different areas of the calves.

Seated calf raises with your toes pointed in toward each other target the outer calves, while seated calf raises with your toes pointed away from each other target the inner calves.

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