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The Top 6 Exercises For Increasing Calf Mass

Build thick and powerful calf muscles with these top 5 exercises: standing and seated calf raises, box jumps, leg press calf raises and dumbbell jump squats.

alves seem to be the most overlooked body part in the lower body. The muscle groups of your upper legs may very well support the core muscles of your body when you’re lifting but the lower leg muscles of the calves must work hard to stabilize the body through every movement while bearing the total weight of the body and any additional loads – twisting, raising you up onto your toes, lowering your onto your heels, twisting your feet.

It’s vital that your calves support you through every movement or you risk serious injury. Likewise, it does little good to train the rest of your body but leave your calves alone. You won’t be able to effectively stabilize the weights you’re moving and lifting outside of general workouts – meaning there’s no practical application for your muscle mass. Worst of all you will look like you’ve got chicken legs.

You cant even rely on the best upper leg exercises like squats and deadlifts to completely develop diamond calves. Start working through these top 6 exercises for increasing your calf muscles to ensure that you establish and maintain a well-rounded workout.

 1-Standing Machine Calf Raises

There’s really no way that you can go wrong with a basic standing machine calf raise. This exercise allows you to hammer your calves with a high level of intensity while keeping the weight completely steady and balanced for you.

Make sure to perform this lift with the largest range of motion possible by lowering yourself until your heels hang off the platform and raising yourself up until your heels are as high as possible.

As with all calf exercises, make sure to perform the exercise under strict control by utilizing a deliberate 3-4 second negative followed by a controlled positive with a brief pause at the top of the movement.

In order to generate maximum tension in the gastrocnemius, focus on raising yourself up onto your big toe rather than the entire ball of your foot. This prevents your foot from rolling outward and shifting the stress onto the soleus.

2-Seated Calf Raise

This is a workout that is necessary to achieve complete development of the calf muscles. While this movement is similar to the standing calf raise, the seated calf raise will actually target the lower muscles of the calf (the soleus).

Sit with the machine pads resting on your thighs. Again, drop your heel to 2-4 inches depending on how flexible you are. Raise again and squeeze the calf muscles once you reach the top. The rep range for this workout, as well as the standing calf raise, should between 10 and 20 depending on the needs of your body and what you can tolerate.

3-Calf Press on the Leg Press

The calf press on the leg press is a fantastic variation on the standing calf raise and is one of my favorite exercises for the gastroc.

Sit on the leg press machine and hold the sled with only your toes and the balls of your feet. Do not move with your hips or knees and instead put all the movement into your ankles. This puts all the emphasis on your calf muscles and nowhere else in the leg.

4-Dumbbell Jump Squat

While this movement does also work the upper leg muscles it focuses a great deal of attention on the calf muscles as well and is an integral part of any whole body workout. Like the box jump, the dumbbell jump squat can help add explosive power to your workout routine. This form of workout helps to develop muscle quickly – increased mass equals a higher metabolism and a better calorie burn through your other workouts.

To perform, simply place yourself in a position for a standard squat and lower your body into the squat, moving to the balls of your feet and toes as you do so. Once you’re at your lowest point, propel yourself up and explode upward into a jump. Land on the balls of your feet and immediately move into another squat. Use dumbbells for this exercise to increase the difficult, but avoid using a barbell. Dumbbells will provide a lower center of gravity and give you more central control of your balance.

5-Donkey Calf Raise

The donkey calf raise was one of Arnold’s favorite calf exercises and for good reason.

6-Box Jumps

In many lifting exercises you need to have explosive strength in your legs. The box jump offers that, as it’s a functional exercise made to give your calf muscles far more power and “spring”. This exercise can train your muscles to react and contract much more quickly, and will deliver some serious tone to your calf muscles.

Stand on the balls of your feet and you toes in front of a box, with the height appropriate to your limitations. Jump onto the box and land again on your toes and the balls of your feet. Jump back down to the floor and repeat for 8 to 10 reps. Do not use dumbbells or other held weights during this exercise as you may need your hands free in order to catch yourself if you trip.