Seated Calf Raise Exercise


Seated Calf Raise Exercise Guide

Learn how to do seated calf raise using correct technique for maximum results!

The posture of the seated calf raise changes the focus from the heavily used gastrocnemius muscle to the lesser-used soleus muscle. The main difference between this exercise and the standing calf raise is that your knees are bent at 90 degree angles. Everything else is the same. The form is also the same with standing calf raises.

So as you can probably guess, 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. Exercises with the knees bent, such as seated calf raises, work the soleus. Seated calf raise machine is provided by most gyms.

The range of motion for the seated calf is much shorter than for the standing heel raise, although the movement is similar.

Perfect Seated Calf Raise Technique

Sit in the seated calf machine with upright posture and place the balls of your feet on the foot plate so that your heels hang off the edge. Place the knee pad on your knees and unrack the weight. Drop your heels as low as you can to get a good stretch in your calves.

Machine Seated Calf Raise Exercise

Machine Seated Calf Raise Exercise

Lift your heels by contracting the calf muscles to raise the weight 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.

Exercise Key Points to Remember

  • Sit with your knees bent at a right angle (90º).
  • The balls of your feet are placed on the foot rest, leaving your heels free.
  • Position the knee pad over the lower part of the quadriceps.
  • Lift your heels by contracting the calf muscles to rise as high as you can on the balls of your feet. Use the front part of your feet as the activator.
  • Use the maximum range of motion by allowing your heels to drop as far as possible and then raising them as high as possible.
  • Do not bounce up from the lowest position to begin the upward movement.
  • Pause at the bottom and at the top of each rep for one second. This will ensure a good stretch and will avoid any bouncing and momentum.
  • Do not pull on the handles or lean your torso backward.
Seated Calf Raises

Seated Calf Raises

Seated Calf Raise Video Guide

This video is designed to show you proper seated calf raise technique so you can get the most from this exercise.

Muscles Engaged in Seated Calf Raise

This bodybuilding exercise isolates the soleus, whose name is derived from its resemblance to the flat fish, the sole.

Main muscles: soleus
Secondary muscles: peroneus longus and brevis, gastrocnemius, tibialis posterior, plantar flexors
Antagonists: tibialis anterior, toe flexors

Bending at the knees relaxes the gastrocnemius, which attaches at the top above the knee joint and the bottom onto the Achilles tendon, and reduce its contribution to ankle extension.

Exercise Variations

If you don’t have a seated calf raise machine you can use the Smith machine; or place a barbell across your lower thighs, just above your knee (put a towel under the bar to protect your skin); or hold a heavy dumbbell just above each knee. You can work the calf muscle in a functionally different way by varying your foot placement on the platform, slightly turning your toes in or out.

Closing thoughts

This exercise differs from the standing version in that it places emphasis on  the soleus muscle of the calf, while the gastrocnemius becomes passive due  to poor biomechanical advantage created by the knee’s flexion. 

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