Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise And Its Variations

The standing dumbbell calf raise is a good exercise for those who don’t have access to a calf raise machine or smith machine.

You can do this exercise right at home or at anyplace you like without a machine, using a dumbbell only.

Dumbbell Calf Raises target the calf muscles, which are essential for balance, stability, and explosive movements.

However, many people don’t train their calves enough and end up with weak and underdeveloped lower legs.

That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide to dumbbell calf raises, so you can take your lower leg strength to the next level.

Know About Calf Muscles

Our calves contain two separate muscles: the soleus and gastrocnemius.

  • 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.
  • The soleus muscle is located underneath the gastrocnemius and is responsible for stabilizing the ankle joint

Standing calf raises mainly focus on the gastrocnemius, while sitting raises mainly target the soleus.

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Muscle Worked During Dumbbell Calf Raise

When performing dumbbell calf raises, several muscles are worked primarily in the lower leg.

The main muscles targeted during calf raises include:

  • Gastrocnemius
  • Soleus
  • Plantaris
  • Tibialis anterior and posterior
Muscle Worked During Dumbbell Calf Raise

Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise

If you want to train the calf muscles with dumbbells only, then Standing dumbbell calf raise is one of the most suitable exercises for this. This exercise can be performed anywhere with a dumbbell only

There are many other variations of weighted calf raises, you just need to grab a barbell, a pair of kettlebell.

Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise

How To Do Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise

  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.
  • Keep the balls of your feet on the edge of the block/step. If you allow the balls of your feet to come in more, the exercise becomes easier.

Dumbbell Calf Raise Variation

There are several ways to do standing dumbbell calf raises, depending on your level of fitness.

If you are new to performing a Dumbbell calf raise, you may want to apply a few modifications to make the exercise easier. One way to counter this problem is to do chair supported calf raises or floor calf raises.

If you are looking for a more advanced variation of dumbbell calf raise, then you can do single leg calf raises. You could also make it more challenging by using weights. But focus on form while doing the same.

Dumbbell Floor Calf Raise

It is performed using dumbbells while standing on a floor instead of a raised surface, such as a weight plate or aerobic step.

You can do the dumbbell calf raise with one leg to make it harder. This challenge improves your balance and coordination and overall stability.

Dumbbell Floor Calf Raise

How to do the Dumbbell Floor Calf Raise:

  1. Start by placing a dumbbell in each hand and standing on the floor.
  2. Keep your core engaged and maintain a straight posture throughout the exercise.
  3. Push up through the balls of your feet, raising your heels as high as possible.
  4. Hold the contracted position for a second, focusing on squeezing your calf muscles.
  5. Slowly lower your heels back down to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  1. Start with lighter dumbbells and increase the weight as you get stronger and more comfortable.
  2. Avoiding any sudden jerking or bouncing movements.
  3. Don’t rely on the momentum of your movements, just use your calf muscles to lift your body up.
  4. Inhaling deeply as you lower your heels, and exhaling deeply as you raise them.
Know More: Dumbbell Leg Exercises To Mass And Strength

Single Leg Dumbbell Floor Calf Raise

One leg at a time is targeted in the single leg dumbbell calf raise, a variation of the calf raise exercise. It involves using a dumbbell for added resistance while standing on a flat surface.

Single Leg Dumbbell Floor Calf Raise

How To Single Leg Dumbbell Floor Calf Raise

  1. Stand on a flat surface with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in one hand.
  2. Lift one foot off the ground, balancing on the other foot.
  3. Push your heel up as high as you can.
  4. Squeeze your calf muscle to hold the contracted position for a second.
  5. Slowly lower your heel back down to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  7. Switch legs and repeat the exercise with the other leg.


  1. Start with a lighter dumbbell or no weight at all until you feel comfortable and stable.
  2. If needed, lightly touch a stable object with your free hand for assistance.
  3. Control the movement and avoid using momentum to lift your heel.
  4. Ensure a slow and controlled pace to maximize muscle activation and engagement.

Standing Dumbbell One Leg Calf Raise

The standing dumbbell one-leg calf raise is a very effective isolation calf exercise which targets the Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles.

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 Standing Dumbbell One Leg Calf Raise

  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.
  4. Exhale as you raise your heel by extending your ankle.
  5. Hold for a count and then slowly reverse the motion and lower your heel until you feel a mild stretch in your calf.
  6. Hold for a count of one. Repeat for more repetitions.
  7. Repeat with your right leg.


  • Keep the movement slow and under control.
  • Do not lock out your knee.
Know More: Bodyweight Leg Exercises for Mass, Strength and Power

Dumbbell calf raises sets and reps


  • 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.


  • 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.

Additional Exercises To Complement Dumbbell Calf Raises

In addition to standing calf raises, it is helpful to incorporate complementary exercises into your lower body workout routine.

Here are some exercises that target different muscle groups and can be combined with calf raises:

Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise

Dumbbell Seated calf raises Exercises are perfect to train the Soleus muscle.

When performing the seated version of the calf raises, it’s important to get a good stretch on the bottom and squeeze at the top, that way you will hit every muscle fiber available.

Sometimes it’s hard to get a good pump in the calf muscle, so make sure to add enough weight and reps.

Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise

How To Do Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise

  1. Use a seated calf raise machine or sit on a bench and rest the balls of your feet on a block or plates and hold dumbbells on your thighs for resistance.
  2. Your knees should be bent 90 degrees and your toes pointing straight ahead.
  3. Allow your heels to drift toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your calves.
  4. Now drive the balls of your feet into the platform and raise your heels as high as possible. 
  5. Repeat the desired number of reps.


  • 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.

Benefits of Dumbbell Calf Raises

Adding dumbbell calf raises to your workout routine can help you:e:

1. Increased Muscle Strength

One of the primary benefits of dumbbell calf raises is increased muscle strength. This exercise targets the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, which are responsible for plantarflexion, or pointing your toes downward.

As you perform calf raises with dumbbells, you’ll work these muscles and gradually increase their strength and endurance.

This can improve your overall athletic performance and help you avoid injury.

2. Improved Balance and Stability

Strong calf muscles are also essential for balance and stability.

Your calf muscles help to support your body weight and maintain your posture, especially when you’re performing exercises like squats, lunges, or deadlifts.

3. Better Aesthetics

Let’s face it: toned, defined calves look great! Standing dumbbell calf raises can help you achieve the toned and defined look you’re after.

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.


Barbell vs dumbbell calf raises

Barbell Calf Raises:

  • Barbell calf raises allow for greater weight progression and can help increase overall calf strength and muscle mass.
  • Barbell calf raises provide stability through the fixed grip of the barbell.

Dumbbell Calf Raises:

  • Dumbbell calf raises improve calf strength, ankle stability, and balance. They also allow for greater range of motion and can help target each calf individually.
  • Dumbbell calf raises challenge balance and coordination due to the use of free weights.

How to make Dumbbell Calf Raise easier

You can also do this exercise without the dumbbells, please have a look at our bodyweight calf raises exercise.

How to make Dumbbell Calf Raise more challenging

To make dumbbell calf raise more challenging, you could try single-legged calf raise, or you could increase the weight.

Slowing down the lowering (eccentric) part of the exercise is another way to gain muscle

How Many Standing Calf Raises Should You Do?

“If you’re a beginner, you can start by doing this exercise with a low weight for 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.

As you get stronger, you can increase your reps and use heavier dumbbells. 3 to 4 sets of 12 to 15 reps is an excellent goal for growing your calf muscles.

Do these standing dumbbell calf exercises two or three times a week.

Can You Do This Move at Home?

Absolutely! You can do calf raise exercise right at home using a dumbbell only.

Are dumbbell calf raises effective?

Strength training with dumbbell calf raises is a very effective exercise, and it will help improve your performance during exercises that require explosive movements like sprinting and jumping.


Calf training is often overlooked, but it’s an essential part of any well-rounded workout routine.

Strong calf muscles can improve your balance, stability, and athletic performance, as well as give you a toned and defined look.

With the tips and workout plans in this guide, dumbbell calf raises help you build bigger and stronger muscles.

Best Dumbbell Calf Exercises To Build Bigger and Stronger Calves

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