There are many ways to train your calves. They get worked when you do jumps, cardio or naturally during the day as you use them every step you take. But for really growing your calves the best way is in the gym vid calf specific exercises. This is a muscle were machines are the best alternative for fast results! Below we go through the four most common calf machines.
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1. Seated calf machine
As the name suggest you do these seated. Start by sitting down on the machine and put a little more than your toes on the lower part of the platform. And keep your heels in the air. Adjust the lever pad to a appropriate height and place you thighs under it. Lift the lever up and release the safety pin, you are now in the starting position.
Start the lift by lowering your heels slowly until you feel a stretch i the calf area. Hold that position for a second before starting to lift your heel back up as high as you can. Hold the top position and squeeze as hard as you can for at least a second.
A very common mistake with this exercise is to load too much weight and do fast and bouncy reps, instead go light and with slow reps to really stretch at the bottom and squeeze at the top to really get the most benefit of this exercise.
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2. Standing calf machine
The standing calf raise is also like it sounds, you do it standing up. Start by adjusting the shoulder pads to a appropriate height for you. Step under the pad and place your front half of your feet on the pad and the back half off the pad. Squat the lever up and keep just a slight bend at the knees which you will keep constant for all reps. Do the lift by lower your heels in a slow and controlled motion until you feel a good stretch in the calf, keep that position for a second and then raise your heels as high as you can. Squeeze and hold that position for at least one second before starting to lower down again and start the next repetition.
3. Using the smith machine
This is not officially a calf machine but it can be used as one. Load the bar with your desired weight, place a step up plate, box or a weight plate or two under the bar. Dive in under the bar and place it on your shoulders, put your mid feet on the edge of the box and squat the bar up to de-rack it, you are now in the starting position. Lower your heels until you feel a stretch, hold that position for a second then push your heels up as high as you can and hold that position for at least a second.
4. Donkey calf raise machine
This is a machine were you do calf raises in a bent over position. Place the back pad at a height were your back is in contact with the pad when you have slightly bent knees. Place the balls of your feet on the feet pad with about half the foot hanging off the pad, bend forward and place your hands on the handles, you are now in the starting position and can lift off. Do the movement like the other versions with stretching at the bottom and squeezing at the top and focus on doing the reps slowly to get the most out of the exercise.
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Calf training tips
If you want to mix things up a little or your calf training has stagnated, try changing the position of your feet. Normally we do them with the feet pointing straight forward, but you can try having them point slightly outwards or inwards to surprise the body with a new technique.
Sets and reps
As this is a muscle that is used all day it likes more repetitions and longer time under tension. So go for 10 to 15 slow and controlled reps. If you do full body routines choose one variation and do 3 sets at the end of the workout. If you do a split routine we recommend doing one seated and one standing variation for 2 to 4 sets each.
It has been mentioned multiple times in this article but it is so important for this exercise so we will bring it up again. Go slow and really stretch at the bottom and squeeze at the top. We have written at least 1 second on each, but feel free to go longer on both. This can be a great way to make the lift harder without increasing the weight. Do the negative part of the lift in about 3 seconds.
Do a calf stretch after your workout, if you don’t want them to be stiff the day after.
Do this by standing with one foot in front of the other and on your front foot keep your toes up against the wall with heel planted on the floor. Keep your legs straight and lean towards the wall. Try to slowly lean closer and closer to the wall. Do this for about 40 seconds on each leg.
Now go and build a set of calves that pop and take your physique to the next level!