How to Do a Standing Calf Raise

Standing calf raises are a great, low-impact addition to your “leg day” routine, which can be performed with or without any additional weight. Calf raises are an isolation exercise that targets the gastrocnemius and the soleus of the calves.

Strengthening the calf muscles has the benefit of reducing stress on the Achilles tendon as well as better stability and a reduced risk of ankle and knee injury. Working the two muscles that make up the calves will leave you better able to comfortably walk and run for a more active lifestyle.

How To

  • To perform a standard standing calf raise, stand with feet planted firmly on the floor at about shoulder width apart. If you are using dumbbells for extra weight, hold them at your sides with palms facing toward your body and thumbs forward.
  • Engage your core and glutes in order to aid with stability, and slowly lift your heels as you rise up onto the balls of your feet. Make sure to keep your knees straight, but do not lock them out at the top of the movement.
  • Take a breath here and then slowly lower your heels back to the ground.


Depending on your fitness level and the amount of weight you are lifting, you should aim to repeat this move anywhere from 10–30 times. Since this exercise involves a smaller range of motion, more repetitions are actually beneficial.


No weights: If you’re looking for a place to get started, or are having trouble maintaining good form, try putting down the weights, and even consider holding the back of a chair or railing for support. Your bodyweight alone makes this an effective exercise.

Foot positioning: If you want to increase the difficulty, try increasing the range of motion by doing your calf raises on the edge of a set of stairs or a raised block. This gives a great stretch to the back of the legs as well as working the calves harder since they have farther to lift.

One-legged raises: Doing calf raises one leg at a time are a good way to address any imbalances or weakness that you may have in either of your legs. Holding a chair or railing for support is a good idea when first attempting single leg raises.

See also Seated Calf Raise.

Cautionary Notes

Calf raises seem very simple, but our modern-day sedentary lifestyle can lead to tight and weak calves. If you haven’t done a lot of work on your calves before, and you sit a lot for work or at home, you should spend some time stretching before and after doing this exercise.

It’s important to maintain proper posture doing calf raises. Make sure to stand up straight and don’t lean forward. Shifting your weight forward can cause back pain as well as reduce the intended benefits of the exercise.  

Check in with your form to make sure that your ankles don’t collapse inward or outward as you rise up onto the balls of your feet. Allowing the ankles to roll either way can cause strain and potentially lead to injury. If you need help keeping your ankles in the right position you can place a tennis ball or other object between your ankles.

More Standing Calf Raise Related Resources

How to Do the Standing Calf Raise – dummies
Standing Calf Raises | Exercise Videos & Guides |
How to Properly Execute a Standing Calf Raise | Muscle & Fitness
How To Do Calf Raises | Coach
Calf Raises: How to Do Them the Right Way, According to Personal Trainers | GQ
Standing Calf Raise – Muscle & Performance
Lower Leg Exercises | Standing Calf Raises – Wall

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