20 Best Calf Exercises and Workout for Building Bigger Calves

If you’re here looking for the best calf exercises because you’re struggling to build bigger calves, you aren’t alone.

For most individuals, working to grow the leg muscles, specifically the calves, is a great challenge. Calf strength and ankle mobility are crucial for all athletes, but particularly runners.

Your calf is one of the most under-trained muscles in your body and is usually neglected from a strength program. Most people don’t understand or believe the importance of keeping your calf complex strong.

Try these simple, effective exercises for strengthening your calf muscles. But before starting to implement the calf training routine, let understand a bit about calves muscles, and best calf exercises and how to do it properly and correctly to maximize the gain.

Table of Contents

What Are Your Calf Muscles?

Before we dive into the different types of calf raises, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the anatomy of the calf muscles.

The calf is made up of two superficial muscles: the upper gastrocnemius, and the lower soleus.


  • The Gastrocnemius is the larger, more visible muscle of the calf.
  • It forms the bulge in the upper part of the lower leg and is responsible for the diamond-shaped appearance.
  • This muscle originates above the knee joint and consists of two heads – the medial head and the lateral head.
  • The Gastrocnemius contracts during activities like walking, running, and jumping, providing power and propulsion.


  • The soleus muscle is located underneath the gastrocnemius and is responsible for stabilizing the ankle joint
  • While it doesn’t directly contribute to the visible shape of the calf, it is equally important for lower leg function.
  • The Soleus is predominantly involved in maintaining posture, assisting with push-off during walking, and providing stability during activities such as standing and balancing.
Know About Calf Muscles the gastrocnemius and the soleus

The gastrocnemius attaches above the knee, and the soleus below the knee. So, whenever the knee is bent, the soleus is doing the work. When the knee is straight, the gastrocnemius is doing the heavy lifting.

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Why is Calf Strength So Important?

Your calves help stabilize and strengthen your ankles, allowing your feet to leave and hit the ground properly when you do everything from walk to jump.

Your calf muscles help you move forward with every step, they take a load when you hit them, and they support the rest of your lower limb and body.

By increasing your calf strength, you will achieve the following:

  • Calf strength is essential for stability and balance in daily activities.
  • Strong calf muscles contribute to proper posture and help prevent ankle injuries.
  • Functional movements like walking, climbing stairs, and getting up from a seated position rely on calf strength.
  • Strong calves are especially beneficial for athletic performance in explosive movements like jumping and sprinting.
  • Weak calf muscles increase the risk of injuries such as sprained ankles and calf strains.
  • Calf strength aids in power transfer from the lower body to the ground during activities.
  • Well-developed calf muscles improve walking and running efficiency, reducing fatigue and enhancing endurance.
  • Calf strength through targeted exercises is important for many things, such as performance and function.
  • The stronger your calf muscles are, the more powerfully you can sprint, and lift—and the less likely you are to get injured

20 Best Calf Exercises For Mass and Strength

Here are 20 calf exercises that will help you build strong and defined calf muscles.

  1. Barbell Standing Calf Raise
  2. Donkey Calf Raise
  3. Smith Machine Standing Calf Raise
  4. Standing Dumbbell One Leg Calf Raise
  5. Seated Machine Calf Raise
  6. Seated Dumbbell One Leg Calf Raise
  7. Hack Machine Calf Raise
  8. Bodyweight Standing Calf Raise
  9. Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise
  10. Leg Press Machine Calf Raise
  11. Dumbbell Step-Up
  12. Jump Squat
  13. Barbell Seated Calf Raise
  14. Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk On Toes
  15. Jumping Jack
  16. Jumping Calf Raise
  17. Standing Calf Raise
  18. Staircase Climbing
  19. Squat Hold Calf Raises
  20. Box Jump

1. Barbell Standing Calf Raise

The standing barbell calf raise is a highly effective exercise for targeting and developing the calf muscles. However, it also provides secondary benefits by engaging other muscle groups such as the quadriceps (quads), hamstrings, and gluteal muscles (glutes).

The standing barbell calf raise closely mimics the natural movement of pushing off the balls of your feet, which is involved in activities like walking, running, jumping, and climbing stairs.

Try experimenting with foot placement by pointing your toes slightly inward, outward, or straight ahead to target different areas of the calf muscles.

Barbell Standing Calf Raise

How To Do

  1. Grab a barbell and place it on your upper back, across your shoulders.
  2. You can use a squat rack or have a spotter assist you in getting into position.
  3. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forward.
  4. Keeping your core engaged and your back straight, lift your heels off the ground by pushing through the balls of your feet.
  5. Rise as high as possible onto your toes, feeling a strong contraction in your calves.
  6. Hold the top position for a moment, then slowly lower your heels back down to the starting position, allowing your calves to stretch.
  7. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Start with a lighter weight to ensure proper form, and gradually increase it.
  • Keep your back straight, chest up, and shoulders back
  • Avoid using momentum or bouncing at the bottom of the movement.
Know More: 15 Best Barbell Leg Workout For Mass and Strength

2. Donkey Calf Raise

Donkey Calf Raise is one of the best calf exercises to build calf muscles. This raise is mostly the second option after standing calf raises.

The donkey calf raise primarily targets both muscles that make up the calves: the gastrocnemius and the soleus.

The donkey calf raises secondarily activates the hamstrings and abs. When you bend over to initiate the calf raise, the hamstrings receive a stretch. Try this workout as a different approach to your calf exercises.

Donkey Calf Raises

How To Do

  1. Stand on a board and bend forward, holding a table for support.
  2. Lower your heels and get as low as possible and fully contract your calf muscles.
  3. Extend your calves and get back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps.


  • You must go through full-range movements to target the calves muscles, including both gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. Since partial calf movements happen every day in walking and running.
  • Use high blocks to make sure that you are not limited in the range of your movements.

3. Smith Machine Standing Calf Raise

The Smith machine standing calf raise is a machine-based exercise targeting the muscles of the calves, particularly the gastrocnemius or upper calf muscle.

It is usually performed for moderate to high reps, such as 12-20 reps per set or more, as part of the lower body portion of a workout.

Smith Machine Standing Calf Raise

How To Do

  1. First, make sure to place a block or weight plate below the bar on the Smith machine.
  2. Place the bar on the back of your shoulders.
  3. Hold the bar with both hands facing forward.
  4. Rotate the bar so that it is unracked from the smith machine.
  5. Push off the balls of your feet to raise your heels as high as possible.
  6. Make sure to flex your calf at the top of the contraction. Hold the contracted position for a second.
  7. Breathe in as you return to the starting position by lowering your heels.  
  8. Repeat the desired the repetitions.


  • Your knees should remain extended.
  • Don’t let your heels touch the floor throughout the set.
  • Use the maximum range of motion by allowing your heels to drop as far as possible and then raising them as high as possible.
Related Post: 12 Most Effective Smith Machine Leg Workout & Exercises

4. Standing Dumbbell One Leg Calf Raise

The single leg calf raise is another excellent exercise for enhancing your calf strength and tone.

It doesn’t require any equipment, although dumbbells can always be added and virtually no space, and anyone can do them. They really should be near the top of the list of the best calf exercises.

You can do the standing dumbbell one-leg calf raise on the floor if you don’t have a platform to perform the exercise from.

Standing Dumbbell One Leg Calf Raise

How To Do

  1. Hold a dumbbell by your side, in your left hand.
  2. With your left foot, stand on a platform, with the arch and heel of your foot suspending off.
  3. Grasp something with your right hand for stability. Exhale as you raise your heel by extending your ankle.
  4. Hold for a count. Inhale as you slowly reverse the motion and lower your heel until you feel a mild stretch in your calf.
  5. Hold for a count of one. Repeat for more repetitions. Repeat with your right leg.


  • Keep the movement slow and under control.
  • Do not lock out your knee.
Related Post: 10 Best Dumbbell Quad Exercises To Build Mass And Strength

5. Seated Machine Calf Raise

The seated calf raise is a one of the best strength-gaining exercises that targets your calf muscles and accelerates their growth.

In the seated calf raise, your soleus is the target muscle and your gastrocnemius is the synergy muscle.

Since the soleus comprises slow-twitch muscle fibers, performing the seated calf raise builds your endurance required for running, cycling, and walking.

Seated Machine Calf Raise

How To Do

  1. Sit in the seated calf machine and place your feet on the foot plate so that your heels hang off the edge.
  2. Place the knee pad on your knees and unrack the weight.
  3. Drop your heels as low as you can to get a good stretch in your calves.
  4. Lift your heels by contracting the calf muscles to raise the weight as high as you can on the balls of your feet.
  5. Hold this position for a second, flexing your calf muscles, then lower your heels back to the starting position.


  • Do the reps in a controlled way and limit momentum at the top of the movement.
  • Use the maximum range of motion by allowing your heels to drop as far as possible and then raising them as high as possible.

6. Seated Dumbbell One Leg Calf Raise

When doing a calf workout with a dumbbell, there are plenty of calf exercises you can add to correct potential imbalances.

The seated dumbbell one-leg calf raise places more stress on the soleus than it does on the gastrocnemius.

It may also be performed with both legs simultaneously, but doing it one leg at a time is recommended to execute it as properly and safely as possible.

The seated dumbbell calf raise can be used as an alternative to the machine seated one-leg calf raise if you do not have access to the seated calf raise machine.

Seated Dumbbell One Leg Calf Raise

How To Do

  1. Sit with the front of your right foot placed on top of a block or step in front of you.
  2. Hips and knees should be bent at a ninety-degree angle.
  3. Dip the heel of your right foot as low as it can go.
  4. Hold a dumbbell vertically on top of your right knee.
  5. Exhale as you lift your right heel as high as possible, pushing against the dumbbell’s weight.
  6. Keep your right heel lifted for 2 counts. Slowly lower it as you inhale.
  7. Repeat the desired number of repetitions.
  8. Repeat the exercise on your left foot.


  • Move slowly as you stretch your calf muscle.
  • Make sure you hold the stretch for a second at the top returning to the starting position.
  • Engage your core to keep your torso upright throughout the exercise.
Related Post: 7 Dumbbell Calf Exercises & Workouts For Bigger Calves

7. Hack Machine Calf Raise

Another best calf exercise is the hack machine calf raise. It is a strength exercise, when done correctly, it can effectively target your calves.

In this study, the researchers compare how different foot positions affect different areas of the calf muscles:

  • If you turn your toes outward, the inner (medial) head of your gastrocnemius will be emphasized.
  • However, if you turn your toes inward, the outer heads of your gastrocnemius will be activated.
  • If you keep them pointing forward, both the inner and outer heads of your gastrocnemius will be activated approximately equally.
Hack machine calf raise

How To Do

  1. Stand on the hack machine platform with your back flat against the rest and the shoulder pads on top of your shoulders.
  2. Adjust your feet so that only the balls of your feet are on the platform.
  3. The heels and arches of your feet should be extending off the platform. Unlatch the hack machine from the rail.
  4. Keeping your knees almost fully extended, exhale as you push the hack machine up and away from the platform.
  5. Pause for a second and Slowly lower the hack machine back down to the starting position until you feel a mild stretch in your calves.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Adjust the angle of your feet (toes pointed inward, outward, straightforward) to target different areas of your calves.
  • Make sure that your back is flat against the rest, your hips are extended and your knees are almost fully extended throughout the exercise

8. Bodyweight Standing Calf Raise

Even bodyweight calf exercises are an effective way to strengthen your calves because the calf muscles take on so much bodyweight. 

They only use bodyweight, so they’re a really convenient calf exercise that you can do that home, or pretty much anywhere.

Bodyweight calf exercises are handy to exercise your calves without having to set foot in the gym.

Bodyweight Standing Calf Raise

How To Do

  1. Stand up straight with your feet facing forward and placed hip-width apart.
  2. Keep a slight bend in your knee and hold your hands by your side.
  3. Raise your heels by pressing the balls of your feet into the ground.
  4. You should move your body upwards until you’re stood on your toes.
  5. Hold this position and then slowly lower your heels back to the ground.


  • Pause and squeeze for a count of 1-2 at the top of the movement for added intensity.
  • Keep the balls of your feet on the edge of the block/step.
Know More: Bodyweight Leg Exercises For Mass, Strength And Power

9. Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise

If you want to train the calf muscles, the Standing dumbbell calf raise is one of the most suitable exercises for this. 

This exercise can be performed anywhere with a dumbbell only, and it is also possible to perform the exercise without a machine. The calf raise is an exercise that can be found in many training plans.

To work your calve muscles harder than a bodyweight standing calf raise, you can add resistance to the move.

There are multiple variations of weighted calf raise workout, you just need to grab a barbell, a pair of kettlebells, or a set of dumbbells. I recommend adding this exercise to your list of calf exercises.

Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise

How To Do

  1. Hold a weight in each hand. Stand up straight on stepper with your feet facing forward and placed hip-width apart.
  2. Keep a slight bend in your knee and hold your hands by your side.
  3. Raise your heels by pressing the balls of your feet into the ground.
  4. You should move your body upwards until you’re stood on your toes.
  5. Hold this position and then slowly lower your heels back to the ground.


  • Pause and squeeze for a count of 1-2 at the top of the movement for added intensity.

10. Leg Press Machine Calf Raise

The leg press calf raise is a variation of the machine calf raise and an exercise used to build the muscles of the calves.

The calves can be a very stubborn muscle group, so it’s important to target them with plenty of different angles and a high training frequency.

Working your calves on the machine has a great benefit compared to standing calf raises. That is, it does not put stress on your back.

It supports your upper and lower back, hence if you have problems with your back, use the seated leg press machine instead of the vertical moves.

Leg Press Machine Calf Raise

How To Do

  1. Sit in a leg press machine and place your feet on the bottom of the foot plate so that your heels hang off the foot plate.
  2. Press the foot plate up from the safety hooks (but do not unlatch them) by straightening your legs.  
  3. Drop your toes down toward your shins to stretch your calves.
  4. Press the weight up with your toes by contracting your calf muscles.
  5. Hold this position for a second, flexing your calf muscles, then lower your heels back to the starting position.


  • Keep the repetitions slow and controlled. Limit momentum and pause at the top to emphasize the contraction.
  • Try to move through the ball of the foot rather than the base of the toes.
  • To perform the exercise correctly and safely, you must wear proper footwear. No slippers.

11. Dumbbell Step-Up

The dumbbell step-up is a great exercise for building lower-body strength and power. This work out exercise targets hamstrings and quadriceps and also involves calves and glutes & hip flexors.

The step-up is a great all-round exercise that is perfect for all, since it can be modified to create a challenging workout for anyone, whether you have just started exercising or have been training for years.

Dumbbell step-up

How To Do

  1. Place a knee-high box or bench in front of you and grasp a dumbbell in each hand, or use just your body weight.
  2. Stand with your feet in a comfortable hip-width stance.
  3. Step forward with one leg onto the step and drive through that thigh to bring your body upward.
  4. Bring the trailing leg to the top of the step and stand on the box.
  5. Then step back with the opposite leg to the floor and lower yourself. Alternate legs with each rep.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Control the movement, using your muscles to slowly lift and lower yourself.
  • Be sure to keep your low back in its natural arch and your upper body upright throughout the whole movement.
  • Keep your body upright and your feet and knees pointing in the same direction.

12. Jump Squat

Jump squats are the power packed HIIT version of squats. Squat jumps and their variations help shed fat from the lower body, tone your butt and legs, and improve strength and balance.

This exercise is often used as the beginning movement to develop proficiency in the vertical jump, high jump, long jump, and box jumps.

Squat jumps are a great exercise to include in-home workouts since they can be done in a small space without any equipment.

Jump Squat

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Quickly drop by bending at the knees and hips, letting your glutes track backward to lower yourself into a squat.
  3. At the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor, quickly and explosively reverse direction, driving up through your heels and the balls of your feet to lift your body off the floor as high as possible.
  4. Land with soft knees and immediately lower into the next rep.


  • Keep your head up and your torso upright.
  • Don’t perform this exercise with cold muscles. Do a cardio warm up before it.

13. Barbell Seated Calf Raise

The barbell seated calf raise is a great variation of the seated calf raise if you have limited equipment (e.g., a home setup). But you can still utilize it as a gym exercise as well.

This is a very useful exercise if you don’t have access to a seated calf raise machine.

Barbell Seated Calf Raise

How To Do

  1. Sit on the end of a bench, chair, and place the barbell on the end of your thighs near your knee but not on your knee.
  2. Sit up straight and place the top half of your feet or balls of your feet on the floor or elevated object so that your heels are hanging off. 
  3. Lift your heels by contracting the calf muscles to raise the weight as high as you can on the balls of your feet.
  4. Hold this position for a second, flexing your calf muscles, then lower your heels back to the starting position.


  • Have a firm grip on the barbell to keep in it in one place.
  • Perform the reps nice and slow using a full range of motion.

14. Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk On Toes

The farmer walk exercise is a simple but extremely effective workout since you need to use your legs, calves, forearms, and core.

However, you can perform the farmer walks on the toes. That way, you will amplify the calf muscle.

Try the exercise with no weights first, and then add or increase the weights as you feel comfortable and more stable.

Then you can just grab some dumbbells or kettlebell and start walking on your toes.

Farmer’s walk on toes

How To Do

  1. Grab a set of dumbbells, and hold them at your sides with your arms extended.
  2. Stand with a long, tall spine, feet together, and brace your core strongly.
  3. Rise onto the balls of your feet. Take a small step forward, staying as high on your toes as possible.
  4.  Continue moving forward, taking 20-30 small steps.


  • Squeeze both calf muscles as you walk, remaining high on your toes throughout the movement
  • Don’t perform this exercise with cold muscles. Do a cardio warm up before it.

15. Jumping Jack

Jumping Jack is a popular aerobic exercise that involves jumping while simultaneously spreading the legs wide and raising the arms overhead.

It is a full-body exercise that helps to improve cardiovascular fitness, increase calorie burn, and engage multiple muscle groups.

Jumping jacks

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet together and arms resting by your sides, maintaining proper posture.
  2. In one swift motion, jump up while spreading your legs out to the sides.
  3. As you jump, raise your arms overhead and touch your hands together.
  4. Quickly return to the starting position by jumping again, bringing your legs together and lowering your arms back to your sides.
  5. Repeat the motion for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Keep your back straight, core engaged, and land softly on the balls of your feet.
  • Inhale deeply as you jump, and exhale forcefully as you return to the starting position.

16. Jumping Calf Raise

The Jumping Calf Raise is a dynamic exercise that targets the calf muscles while incorporating a plyometric or explosive element.

It helps to strengthen and develop the calf muscles while also improving power and explosive strength.

Jumping Calf Raises

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, and arms by your sides.
  2. Start by performing a regular calf raise: Rise up onto the balls of your feet by pushing through your toes, lifting your heels off the ground. This is the starting position.
  3. From the starting position, explosively jump off the balls of your feet, propelling your body upward.
  4. While in the air, quickly extend your ankles and point your toes down, fully contracting your calf muscles.
  5. Land softly on the balls of your feet and immediately go into the next repetition by performing another explosive jump.
  6. Repeat the sequence for the desired number of repetitions.


  • If you’re new to jumping calf raises, begin with regular calf raises to build strength and familiarity with the movement.
  • Focus on landing gently and quietly to minimize impact on your joints.
  • Bend your knees slightly as you land to absorb the shock.
  • Start with a lower number of repetitions and gradually increase the intensity, height, or speed.

17. Standing Calf Raise

Calf exercises are performed to build 2 basic calf muscles, soleus and gastrocnemius.

If there is only one exercise you want to do for your calves, then it should be calf raises. It is the overall Calf muscle builder.

Standing calf raise targets the whole gastrocnemius muscle.

A wide stance tends to emphasize the inner (medial) head, whereas a narrow stance targets the outer (lateral) head.

To maximize the range of motion, aim for a full stretch at the bottom and full squeeze at the top.

Standing Calf Raise

How To Do

  1. Step on a Calf raise machine with your toes on a block and heals extended into space.
  2. Place the shoulders under the pads and hook the weight off the support.
  3. Now raise yourself up using only the toes and come as far as possible.
  4. Hold this position for a second, flexing your calf muscles.
  5. Slowly lower your heals as far as possible towards the floor. Keep your knees slightly bent.
  6. Go as heavy as possible. With time, you can perform partial repetitions once you get tired on a set.


  • The movement too quickly isn’t effective—it’s best to raise and lower your heels slowly.
  • To stay properly balanced while performing calf raises, keep your chest up and stand tall
  • To help keep your balance, keep your eyes facing forward at all times.

18. Staircase Climbing

Staircase climbing is a cardiovascular exercise that involves climbing up and down a set of stairs.

It is a highly effective way to improve cardiovascular fitness, strengthen leg muscles specially calf and quad muscles.

To add variety and challenge, you can incorporate intervals of faster-paced climbing or skipping steps to increase the intensity of your workout.

Stair Climbs

How To Do

  1. Look for a set of stairs that are safe and suitable for climbing.
  2. Begin at the bottom of the stairs and start climbing up, taking one step at a time.
  3. Use proper form: Keep your posture upright, engage your core, and look forward while climbing.
  4. Use your entire foot to push off from each step, and avoid using only your toes or heels.
  5. Find a comfortable pace that allows you to keep moving continuously.
  6. Once you reach the top, carefully descend the stairs, either by walking down or using a controlled jogging motion.
  7. Repeat the desired number of repetitions or duration of your workout.


  • Take each step deliberately and be cautious to avoid tripping or slipping.
  • Breathe deeply and rhythmically throughout the exercise

19. Squat Hold Calf Raises

Squat hold calf raises works the soleus muscles more than the gastrocnemius, but a considerable amount of force is still produced by the latter.

To complete this exercise, the individual should assume a squat position with feet shoulder width apart and hands in front or placed on the hips.

While maintaining the squat position, the individual pushes up to stand on their tip toes and then back down to the ground. You should try this bodyweight calf raise exercise.


How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet about three to four feet apart, toes turned out.
  2. Bring your hands together in front of your chest.
  3. Squat down by bending at the knees and hips, letting your glutes track backward to lower yourself into a squat.
  4. Raise your heel off the floor, and squeeze your calves.
  5. Repeat until the set is complete.


  • Keep your abs tight, your back straight, and maintain your knees in line with your toes.
  • Don’t perform this exercise with cold muscles. Do a cardio warm up before it.

20. Box Jump

The box jump is a plyometric exercise that focuses on developing an athlete’s lower body explosiveness and proprioception.

Plyometric exercises like the box jump help improve explosiveness, which combines power and speed to output force from the exerciser’s body.

This exercise is commonly used as part of an athletic training circuit, providing both leg muscle training stimulus and sports-specific skill development, such as proprioception, lower body stability, and multi-joint movement coordination.

Box Jump

How To Do

  1. Stand in front of a sturdy box or platform, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lower yourself into a quarter squat position, swinging your arms back for momentum.
  3. Explosively jump upwards, swinging your arms forward to help propel you upwards.
  4. Land on the box with both feet, ensuring you have fully extended your hips and knees at the top of the jump.
  5. Step back down from the box and repeat for the desired number of reps.


  • Start with a lower box height and increase it as you get stronger and more skilled.
  • Use a sturdy box or platform that can support your weight and won’t slip or slide during the exercise.
  • Keep your core tight and your knees aligned with your toes during the jump.
  • Make sure to fully extend your hips and knees at the top of the jump.
  • Land softly and quietly on the box to minimize impact on your joints.

Set and reps for calf workout

Of course, the number of sets and reps will be determined based on your fitness journey. The development of calf muscle mass and strength is achieved through a variety of set and repetition ranges.


  • Beginners: Start with 4-6 sets per week.
  • Most intermediate-advanced lifters require a minimum of 8 sets of direct calf work per week to make noticeable gains.
  • For people who train twice a week, this is about 4 sets per session.
  • If following a 3x training frequency, aim for around 2-3 sets per session.


  • 3 to 5 reps for power
  • less than 6 reps for strength
  • 6 to 12 reps for hypertrophy
  • 12 to 20+ reps for endurance

To target the slow twitch fibers in your calves and promote growth, focus on higher rep ranges of 15-30 reps per set. These fibers are resistant to fatigue and require extended time under tension.

Also, do a smaller number of workouts per week (around 1-2) that include lower rep ranges of 6-12 reps to give you more variety and work different muscle fibers.

How To Build Calf Muscle

To build three-dimensional calves, you need a multitude of approaches by constantly working the concentric and eccentric contractions of those muscles from variable angles.

Varying rep strategies are also critical. Think of doing reps between 10 and 25, alternating between volume and strength days. That also means that you shouldn’t be afraid to load up the weight on those strength days, either.

Pick two or three of these calf exercises to do two or three times a week. Do three sets of each.

Your calves are used to high-volume work (think of how much they support you when walking all day), so they can be trained at greater frequency.

This Post contains detailed descriptions of all major exercises that focus on the calf muscles, including the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.

The calf workout is divided into exercises that focus on the gastrocnemius and exercises that target the soleus, as well as exercises for the tibialis anterior.

Training Technique Build Bigger and stronger Calf Muscles

If you are looking to take your calf training to the next level, there are a few advanced techniques you can incorporate into your workouts.

Try out the techniques and approaches and see which ones work best for you.

1. Drop Sets

Drop sets involve performing an exercise to failure, then immediately reducing the weight and continuing the exercise.

This technique can be used for any calf exercise, like standing calf raises or seated calf raises.

2. Eccentric Training

Eccentric training involves focusing on the lowering phase of an exercise.

For example, when performing standing calf raises, focus on lowering your heels slowly and under control. This technique can help to stimulate muscle growth and increase strength.

Eccentric reps create a lot of stress on the muscle, so I recommend doing them at most every other week.

3. Isometric Holds

Pause for a few seconds at the peak contraction of each calf raise. This isometric hold challenges the muscles and enhances muscle recruitment.

Gradually increase the duration of the holds as your strength improves.

4. Go Full Range Of Motion

Do Full range of motion and Go all the way up and all the way down when you do your calf raises (but avoid relaxing at the bottom, which stresses the connective tissues). 

5. High Reps and Short Rest

Give calf muscles a big pump by forcing a large amount of blood into a muscle is one way to encourage growth.

The best way to get a good pump is with high reps (20-50) and short rest (30-60 seconds) in between sets.

6. Plyometric Training

Jumping rope, jumping squats, or single-leg hops are some of the explosive plyometric exercises you can do for your calf workouts.

Plyometrics enhance power and explosiveness, which can translate to improved athletic performance.

7. Mind-Muscle Connection

Focus on developing a strong mind-muscle connection with your calves during each rep.

Concentrate on feeling the muscles working and contracting with each movement in order to maximize the effectiveness of your training.

8. Increase the weight and intensity

To stimulate growth through high resistance, you should load significantly more than your bodyweight. Another option is to use less weight, but lift with one leg at a time. 

Use a variety of exercises to strengthen your calves from different angles.

Benefits Of Calf Exercises

1. Lower Body Strength And Power

Regularly performing calf workout can increase the strength and endurance of your calves, allowing you to tackle activities that require strong lower leg muscles.

This improved strength can be extended to other lower body exercises and improve overall lower body performance.

2. Strength And Explosiveness

By engaging in calf training, you can strengthen and increase the endurance of your calf muscles, which will result in enhanced explosiveness and power output.

It directly impacts your overall athletic performance, allowing you to excel in activities that require strong, forceful leg movements.

3. Enhanced Performance

It is important to build stronger calves since they play a significant role in various full-body exercises, such as running on the treadmill or performing deadlifts.

Strengthening the calves through exercises such as calf raises can help athletes achieve greater stability during athletic, explosive, and strength-based movements.

4. Improve Ankle Mobility

Calf raises provide excellent joint support, particularly for the ankles. By targeting muscles like the peroneus, gastrocnemius, and soleus, calf raises enhance ankle mobility and strength.

This stability is particularly beneficial when walking on uneven surfaces, wearing high heels, or engaging in activities that require precise footwork.

5. Strengthening The Achilles Tendon

Calf raises target the Achilles tendon, the largest and strongest tendon in the body. When the calf muscles contract during the exercise, they work with the Achilles tendon to make it stronger and more resilient.

strong Achilles tendon improves exercise tolerance, reduces the risk of injuries, and enhances your feet range of motion.

6. Bigger Calves

To achieve well-rounded calf development, it’s essential to target both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.

Standing calf raises primarily emphasize the gastrocnemius, while seated (bent knee) raises predominantly engage the soleus.

Calf raises are a proven method to induce muscle hypertrophy in the calf muscles. This hypertrophy increases the size of the muscles and can make the calves look more attractive.

Frequently Asked Question

Calf exercises for beginners

  1. Standing Calf Raise
  2. Seated Calf Raise
  3. Calf Raises on Staircase
  4. Calf Raises on Step Platform
  5. Calf Raises with Resistance Bands
  6. Calf Raises with Bodyweight
  7. Toe farmer walk
  8. Calf Raises with Dumbbells

What is the best exercise for calves?

There are several calf exercises that will improve strength and definition. That includes the following: standing calf raise, Donkey Calf raise, seated calf raises, single-leg calf raises, dumbbell step-Up and side lunges.

How can I increase my calf size?

 The calf muscle group is one of the most difficult to grow. If you really want to strengthen your calf muscles, you should train them in different ways.

  • Set calves are a high priority, treat them that way by training them first on leg day.
  • Emphasize high volume and perform at least 20 reps per set. Keep it under 20-25 reps per set.
  • Include one standing and one seated exercise per calf workout.
  • If you want to grow your calf, you need to focus on the squeeze and contraction—i.e., the top part of the movement.

Should I train calves everyday?

It is not advisable to train your calf muscles daily. Remember to give your body enough rest. Do not overtrain because that will lead to fatigue and breakdown. 2-3 days a week is enough for a calf workout.

How often should I train my calves?

It’s recommended to train your calves 2-3 times per week. However, if you’re an experienced lifter, you may be able to train them more frequently.

Does walking build Calf Exercises

Since our calves receive a lot of stimulation from walking around, your best training results will come from stimulating them in ways that are different from walking.

If you use walking as a form of exercise, try walking up hills or using the incline on the treadmill.  The incline will increase the range of motion at the ankle to stimulate calf growth.


Building defined calves takes time, consistency, and dedication.

With a variety of exercises, using proper form and technique, and focusing on proper nutrition and recovery, you can get the strong and defined calves you’ve always wanted.

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