How to Do a Seated Calf Raise

Seated calf raises are an isolation exercise that works to target the gastrocnemius and soleus of the calves. It requires very little “equipment” to be performed; all you need is a chair and a weight of some sort, making this a powerful addition to every fitness enthusiast’s exercise routine.

This exercise is often overlooked but can have substantial benefits to your daily life. Stronger calves can make activities like squatting more comfortable, taking the stairs easier, and you will be less likely to injure yourself if you find yourself needing to quickly change direction while playing with your children or pet, for example.

How To

  • To perform a seated calf raise, you’ll need a sturdy chair or bench to sit on and a dumbbell, weighted plate, or even several heavy books will work.
  • Sit on the chair with your feet flat on the floor and the weight positioned across your thighs.
  • To lift the weight, think about pressing your toes into the floor and bringing your heels up off the ground. Give the calves a good squeeze at the top of the movement, but not too hard!
  • Take a breath here at the top of the movement, and then slowly lover your heels back down to the ground. You’ll get just as much benefit from the lowering motion as the lifting.


Beginners can start with a low weight and aim for three sets of 10. Once you are feeling confident and your calves are getting stronger, a good goal to work toward would be about three or four sets of 12–15 repetitions. Add more weight slowly to avoid over-taxing the muscles.


Resistance band: If you want to make the exercise a bit easier, or don’t have access to weights, you can either use less weight or use a resistance band. To do so, you would place one end of the band underneath your feet with the other end around your thighs. Hold the band in place with your hands to make sure it doesn’t slide during the movement.

Foot position: If you want to make this move more difficult, you can place a block under the balls of your feet. This will increase the range of motion and cause your calves to work harder to lift the weight. You can use any solid block of wood or even a large hardcover book.

See also the standing calf raise.

Cautionary Notes

If you aren’t paying attention and are lifting heavy weight, you may start lifting using your hips and knees instead of your calves. You may not injure yourself doing this, but you will lose the benefit of stronger calves. If you find that your calves aren’t engaging, try giving them a stretch and then contracting them to wake them up before starting.

Squeezing the calves at the top of the movement can be extremely beneficial in building the muscle more quickly, but try to avoid squeezing so hard that you strain the muscle. If you are lifting a really heavy weight and already straining the muscle, you may overdo it unintentionally. 

Anyone suffering from a lower body injury should consult their doctor or a fitness professional before attempting this particular exercise.

More Seated Calf Raise Related Resources

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