Calf Raise Variants

calf raises exercise

Most of the time, bodybuilders like to train with a variety of movements in order to hit each muscle group from a variety of angles. This assures that the highest possible number of fibers is recruited, and that maximum growth is achieved. When it comes to calves, however, most bodybuilders aren’t too concerned with variety of angles or machine selection. Much of the time, especially in crowded gyms, we complete calves at the end of leg day by limping to the nearest available calf machine and knocking out a few quick sets, before looking for our car keys and the next available protein source to replenish us from that tough workout.

As a result of this lack of attention and very often, lack of available equipment, many bodybuilders build calves, which are lacking development in all areas. This can be fixed, of course, using a few exercises to isolate those poor areas.

If you have small calves…
Standing calf raises will add mass to your lower legs. Seated calf raises will add mass as well as cuts. Leg press calf raises are great for adding mass, as well. Use a dumbbell, barbell, or machine. Moving heavy weight using only the lower legs is the goal, if you wish to add size.

If you have shallow calves…
For calves lacking thickness, donkey calf raises provide isolation in the back of the calves, which gives them a more three-dimensional shape, making them look better from every angle.

If one calf is less developed than the other…
Use one-legged calf raises on the leg press machine, or standing with a dumbbell, to properly deliver extra sets to make this particular group grow. An imbalance should be addressed early to ensure it doesn’t become a major symmetry issue in the future.

If the front of the leg has little muscle…
Use reverse calf raises to beef up this area. It’s already a thin muscle sheet, and many are cursed genetically. However, using the heels to do much of the movement will bring the front calves into play on this movement.

Simply being aware of these different angles for different calf deficits will help you to not only notice your own calf shortcomings, but also to grab available calf stations in busy gyms to meet your specific needs. Always tackle calf day like you do all other body parts – focused upon your body’s needs, and what machines and exercises will help you to meet these needs.

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