Machine Standing Calf Raise


Machine Standing Calf Raise

There are two basic ways to train calves. One way is with the knees locked (legs straight) and the other is with the knees bent. Exercises with the knees locked, such as machine standing calf raises, work the gastrocnemius. Exercises with the knees bent, such as seated calf raises, work the soleus.

Machine standing calf raise is perhaps the most effective calf exercise, and it’s been a standby for decades. Most gyms provide a standing calf raise machine such as the one shown in the photos. With a standing calf machine, you don’t have to balance the weight on your shoulder: you simply raise your body up.

Exercise Instructions


Stand beneath the shoulder pads of a standing calf raise machine with the balls of your feet (front part of both feet) at the edge of the foot rest (platform). Keep your legs straight and lower your heels down as far as possible to stretch the calves.


Lift your heels by contracting the calf muscles to rise as high as you can on the balls of your feet. Hold this position for a second, flexing your calf muscles, then lower your heels back to the starting position.


Your body moves in a vertical descent and ascent. Use the front part of your foot as the activator.

Machine Standing Calf Raise

Important Tips for Standing Calf Raises

  • Keep your spine in a neutral position (straight) throughout the exercise, and elevate your body directly upwards.
  • Your body moves in a vertical descent and ascent. Use the front part of your feet as the activator.
  • Avoid bending your knees or hips. Be sure your knees are locked throughout the entire range of motion.
  • Avoid leaning forward.
  • Perform reps slowly.
  • Move the feet through the complete range of flexion with each repetition in order to stretch the muscles properly.
  • Pause at the bottom whey your calves are fully stretched.
  • Squeeze at a top.
  • Do not bounce up from the lowest position to begin the upward movement.
  • You can point your feet toward the outside or the inside, but it is better to keep them in line with your legs to avoid any unnecessary twisting in the knee. The calves are strongest when your feet are very straight.

In theory, it is possible to isolate the medial gastrocnemius by pointing the toes out and isolate the lateral gastrocnemius by pointing the toes in. But in practice, this is difficult to achieve. Only separating the work of the soleus and gastrocnemius is easy to achieve. This is done by flexing the knees to relax the gastrocnemius and to put more effort on the soleus. If you want to use a different version of the exercise, you could try changing the width of your feet (close together or far apart) or working only one calf at a time.

Machine Standing Calf Raise Video Demonstration

This video is designed to show you exactly how to perform machine standing calf raise using perfect technique (proper form) so you can get the most from this great calf building exercise.

Muscles Used in Machine Standing Calf Raise

Main muscles: calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus)
Secondary muscles: peroneus longus and brevis, flexor digitorum longus, tibialis posterior
Antagonists: tibialis anterior, extensor digitorum

Exercise Variations

  • Smith machine standing calf raise
  • Power rack standing calf raise
  • You may change your foot placement on the platform to work the involved muscles in a slightly different manner.
  • You can lift with one leg at a time, instead of both together.

Replacement Exercises

Standing Calf Raises

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